OpenP2P.com: LazyWeb and RSS: Given Enough Eyeballs, Are Features Shallow Too?
Jan 09, 2003, 02:30 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Clay Shirky)
"A persistent criticism of open source software is that it is
more about copying existing features than creating new ones. While
this criticism is overblown, the literature of open source is
clearer on debugging than on design. This note concerns an attempt
to apply debugging techniques to feature requests and concludes by
describing Ben Hammersley's attempt to create such a system,
implemented as an RSS feed.
"A key observation in Eric Raymond's The Cathedral and the
Bazaar is: 'Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.' Raymond
suggests that Brook's Law--'Adding more programmers to a late
software project makes it later'--doesn't apply here, because
debugging is less collaborative than most other software
development. He quotes Linus on the nature of debugging: 'Somebody
finds the problem, and somebody else understands it. And I'll go on
record as saying that finding it is the bigger challenge.'
"Finding a bug doesn't mean simply pointing out broken behavior,
though. Finding a bug means both locating it and describing it
clearly. The difference between 'It doesn't work' and 'Whenever I
resize the login window, the Submit button disappears' is the
difference between useless mail and useful feedback. Both the
description and the fix are vital, and the description precedes the