I'm sure there are those of you who are thinking, "Hey, you shared the
admin privileges with someone; it's your fault and no one else's."
And that's fine by me--I blame no one but myself for trusting someone
who obviously wasn't as trustworthy as I first thought. Believe me,
in the future I will think very hard about inviting admin help.
But what really chaps my ass, and this is the subject of my rant, is
the response, or lack thereof, by SourceForge. I dutifully searched
the docs for variants of "hijacked project appeal procedures," and,
finding none, posted to the Support team tracker. I explained the
reasons why I felt this was a malicious action on the part of one of
their subscribers, citing evidence I mentioned previously. The
response I received was a canned response that advised me to go
through the APT (abandoned project) procedure to "reclaim" the
I wrote back, explaining that I think there was a misunderstanding:
I'm not trying to pick up an abandoned project; I simply would like
some support in trying to iron out the issues involved. The response
I received was curt: Go through the APT procedures, or fork the
This (in)action got me thinking about SourceForge. I and others have
made no bones about the fact that SourceForge holds almost all the
eggs in the open source basket, and that there is not much that
separates VA Software from the fate of many other dot coms (VA
Software's explosive increase in advertising on most of their sites
bears witness to the fact that funds are being depleted). If VA
Software decide to shut down SourceForge today, what would be the
effects on the open source movement?
I believe the effects would be extremely damaging to the open source
community. How many projects are hosted, in their entirety, on
servers other than those controlled by VA Software? Even if 10% of
the 80,000+ projects hosted by SourceForge are active, what would be
the cost in time and effort to bring 8,000 projects back on-line?
Don't count on Freshmeat being there to point users to your new site:
I would imagine whatever financial calamity warranted the shutdown of
SourceForge would also bring down Freshmeat and all the other
non-revenue-bearing sites of the VA Software corporate machine.
For many developers and open source supporters, SourceForge boils down
to convenience: Free hosting, free utilities, secure access, one-stop
shopping, and well-known presence. But what will be ultimate price paid
by the open source community for this convenience?
This incident has really opened my eyes to the dangers of a VA
Software hegemony over open source. Up to this point, like many of
you, I've simply been too lazy to do anything about it. Now that I've
been forced into action, I see that I should have heeded my own
advice. Again, no one to blame but myself. The question is, who will
you blame when the money runs out and SourceForge is history?