I would expect to get a couple of standard questions when I say I'm developing an open source weblog system in perl, inspired by slashdot. Here they are, in no particular order, with answers:
Q. Why would you want to write your own, when slash is available for free, with all them features and stuff?
A. The answer to this has a couple of parts. First, I'd already done quite a bit of work on Scoop when the slashdot gang released their code. Had they perhaps let the community know when the release was going to be, I might have held off. Then again, they'd promised it so many times by then that I probably wouldn't have believed them. But in any case, I already have a significant commitment of my time and effort in Scoop.
Secondly, everyone kept saying "Don't bitch about slash unless you've written your own." I don't believe this crap for a minute, but nevertheless, no reason to give them an easy out. :-)
Thirdly, if you look at the slash 0.9 code, and the scoop code, you'll immediately see that there are some significant stylistic differences between my coding style and theirs. I tend to a semi-OO style, and I absolutely despise global variables. Slash is totally function-oriented, and has about a billion global vars and functions. This bothers me, and making it not bother me any more would be a lot of work, and would likely constitute a major code fork anyway. If I'm going to fork the code, I might as well start from scratch and do it all my way.
Q. Why don't you help fix slash 0.9, if you still don't like it? Why waste your effort recreating an existing application?
A. I don't believe it's a waste of effort. I did for a while, but as per part three above, I no longer do. Like I said, it'd be just as much effort for me to work on the old code, and I believe TMTOWTDI*. For those who wish to work on slash, best of luck. I'd love to have developers to help me, but I'm certainly not going to say one or the other is "wrong."
Q. Were't you one of the people doing the most strident complaining about the slash code being closed? And now you're not working on it? You hypocrite!
A. As I tried over and over to point out, my main complaint was not that I couldn't use the code. My complaint was that the owners of Slashdot were making big bucks off their Open Source news site, and yet had a total "screw you" attitude when it came to questions about their own code. Everyone's entitled to do as they see fit, but the particulars of this example made me very queasy.
It's clear that there really was work going on behind the scenes, and it's all come out well in the end. Still, Rob's communication (or lack thereof) with the community should be noted and hopefully will serve as an example to others of how NOT to do things.
The other side of the issue was that there are a lot of good ideas in slashdot, and it's nice to have the code to refer to if I'm stuck on how to implement something. I don't know if I will refer to the code, but at the very least, the database structures for Scoop are identical to those of slash 0.3, so there's of course been an influence already.
Any other questions? Ask 'em below, and I'll answer. In case it's not clear, I have nothing but praise for Rob, Hemos, CowboyNeal, and Patrick Galbraith and wish slashcode.com the best of luck. Hopefully there will be some interesting convergence between Scoop and slash in the future. Till then, use what makes you happy! :-)
* "There's More Than One Way To Do It," a major Perl motto.