20
Nov

Bazaars do not always guarantee quality products.

Post title - LIONblog

A thought-provoking article in The Communications of the ACM [1] argues that the new way of producing software advocated in Eric Raymond's book The Cathedral and the Bazaar (O'Reilly Media, 2001) may not always produce top-quality results. In the Bazaar model the code is developed over the Internet in view of the public. "Given a large enough beta-tester and co-developer base, almost every problem will be characterized quickly and the fix obvious to someone." As usual, the hype around "new ages" for software development did not always live up to expectations.

It is difficult to deny that serious "enterprise level" software requires a level of responsibility and design which is difficult to achieve by a self-regulating Bazaar-like collaboration. Let me cite a passage from the article:

"Getting hooked on computers is easy—almost anybody can make a program work, just as almost anybody can nail two pieces of wood together in a few tries. The trouble is that the market for two pieces of wood nailed together—inexpertly—is fairly small outside of the "proud grandfather" segment, and getting from there to a decent set of chairs or fitted cupboards takes talent, practice, and education. The extra 9,900 percent had neither practice nor education when they arrived in our trade, and before they ever had the chance to acquire it, the party was over and most of them were out of a job. I will charitably assume that those who managed to hang on were the most talented and most skilled, but even then there is no escaping that as IT professionals they mostly sucked because of their lack of ballast.

The bazaar meme advocated by Raymond, "Just hack it," as opposed to the carefully designed cathedrals of the pre-dot-com years, unfortunately did, not die with the dot-com madness, and today Unix is rapidly sinking under its weight."