Hi Ibsen,

Ibsen S Ripsbusker wrote on Sun, Jul 21, 2019 at 05:51:21PM +0000:

> benevolent dictatorship

I'm aware you did not call OpenBSD a "benevolent dictatorship",
and i totally see how the term can be used both to shut down
or to incite controversy.

Yet, i heard the term used several times in the past in relation
to OpenBSD, and merely wanted to mention that i think is misses the
point.  Words of the "...cracy" field can be used for systems of
making, adjudicating, and executing laws, laws that limit or expand
what people can and cannot have or do, that directly impact people's

Nothing of the kind is at stake here or at the very most, the right
of using the name "OpenBSD".

OpenBSD cannot make any laws that bind me or cannot tell me what
to do or what not to do, not even in programming, so the question
what kind of a "...cracy" it is is already a moot question to ask.
I'm 100% free to walk away at any time if i'm unhappy with the
colour of the servers in Theo's basement and publish my software
elsewhere.  That isn't just a theoretical possibility, it's quite
easy in practice if needed; in fact, mandoc.bsd.lv is already up
and running, and so is bsd.plumbing and other similar places - not
because developers are unhappy with Theo providing free servers in
his basement and fostering a very fertile development community
around them, but simply because having your own site and name with
global visibility is not such a big deal in this day and age.  Also,
walking away does not necessarily even uproot you from a development
community - i doubt that people like bapt@ at FreeBSD or wiz@ at
NetBSD or stapelberg@ at Debian or Leah at Void greatly care whether
or not i contribute to OpenBSD this week.

So, yes, OpenBSD developers form a social group, but not in a way
that (formally or effectively) assigns rights or duties or opportunities
such that describing it as a "...cracy" would make much sense.

People walking away and doing their work elsewhere under a new name
happens all the time for very diverse reasons and often enough for
good reasons: pf(4), OpenSSH, LibreSSL, heck, OpenBSD itself, and
even NetBSD before that...  When it happens, the parent projects
sometimes fade into oblivion - consider pf(4), OpenSSH - and sometimes
live on - consider (so far) the parents of LibreSSL and of OpenBSD
itself as examples.

See, if you dislike the way Andorran politics is currently being
run, you cannot simply renounce citizenship and set up your own
state in some corner of the country.  So in some contexts, asking
about "...cracy" is indeed highly meaningful.  For a completely
free software project, no so much.

Even in a commercial enterprise, the question of governance is more
relevant than in OpenBSD - while in most countries, employees are
formally free to quit, for some employees, that may be a somewhat
theoretical option because some may have few practical chances to
make their living in some other way.  And besides, employers *do*
almost invariably tell employees what to work on and how, which
isn't the case here either.


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