[sword-devel] Open Content Creation

Paul Gear sword-devel@crosswire.org
Fri, 02 Feb 2001 05:44:03 +1000

darwin@ichristian.com wrote:
> Jerry Hastings writes:
> > Another great idea! I like it. Need to be careful with the "cult" word
> > though. Open source software development is not a good place to practice
> > counter cult methods.
> The following sounds harsh, but I am looking for something I am missing,
> and not stating my thoughts on what the policy should be at Sword.
> I am confused.  What connection is there between development methodology
> and the willingness (and mandate) to fight heresy?  I see no reason to
> tolerate heretic developers any more than I would heretic ushers willing to
> guide people to their seats in Church...

I agree with you in one part.  Programming is no less a sanctified
activity than preaching if we take a wholistic approach to our faith.

However, i have one problem with your position: define "heretic".  When
it boils down to it, what most people mean when they say "heretic" is
"someone who doesn't believe what i do", and it can be a very hard thing
to agree on the definition of a heretic when so many people are

The way most people solve that is by saying that there is a set of core
beliefs that are essential, as opposed to many things which are
non-essential, and rate heretics based on their conformance with the
core criteria.  However, how do you decide who gets to define the
criteria?  All members of the development list?  Only members of the
development list who attend a recognised mainline denomination?  Only
the directors of CrossWire?

I hope you can see why i think:
a) this is too hard, and
b) a software development mailing list is not the place to solve it.

If we were all part of the same local church, submitted to the same
Christian leaders, then deciding who could and could not develop
software would be possible, and maybe even advisable.  However, we
aren't, and this is the Internet, where i don't even know that you are
who you say you are.  :-)

Incidentally, the point i think Jerry was alluding to (that because we
are an open software project that we could not do this) i don't believe
is an issue: we could still be in perfect compliance with the GPL and
refuse people access to the sword-devel mailing list and CVS repository,
as long as we provided a place where they could download the code. 
(Obviously, this is not practical IMO.)

"He must become greater; i must become less." - John 3:30