Even a chimp can write code

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Eric Raymond shows his ugly side

I have a feeling some folks in Microsoft had a good laugh at Eric S. Raymond's expense last week. Someone on the research team told an MS recruiter (a vendor incidentally) that ESR would be a good employee candidate. So the recruiter sends him a feeler via email. The email has the usual template content:

Your name and contact info was brought to my attention as someone who could potentially be a contributor at Microsoft. I would love an opportunity to speak with you in detail about your interest in a career at Microsoft, along with your experience, background and qualifications. I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have and can also provide you with any information I have available in regard to the positions and work life at Microsoft.

ESR's response to him is a riposte you'd expect from a pre-pubescent teen: totally banal, and lacking in stature and tact. It is reproduced here so you and I can continue to have a laugh long after it is taken off ESR's blog:

I’d thank you for your offer of employment at Microsoft, except that it indicates that either you or your research team (or both) couldn’t get a clue if it were pounded into you with baseball bats. What were you going to do with the rest of your afternoon, offer jobs to Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds? Or were you going to stick to something easier, like talking Pope Benedict into presiding at a Satanist orgy?

If you had bothered to do five seconds of background checking, you might have discovered that I am the guy who responded to Craig Mundie’s "Who are you?" with "I’m your worst nightmare", and that I’ve in fact been something pretty close to your company’s worst nightmare since about 1997. You’ve maybe heard about this "open source" thing? You get one guess who wrote most of the theory and propaganda for it and talked IBM and Wall Street and the Fortune 500 into buying in. But don’t think I’m trying to destroy your company. Oh, no; I’d be just as determined to do in any other proprietary-software monopoly, and the community I helped found is well on its way to accomplishing that goal.

On the day *I* go to work for Microsoft, faint oinking sounds will be heard from far overhead, the moon will not merely turn blue but develop polkadots, and hell will freeze over so solid the brimstone will go superconductive.

But I must thank you for dropping a good joke on my afternoon. On that hopefully not too far distant day that I piss on Microsoft’s grave, I sincerely hope none of it will splash on you.

Cordially yours,
Eric S. Raymond

What a pompous ass!

Now, from time to time, we are all guilty of thinking of ourselves as being more important to the cause than is actually the case. Apparently ESR is the only person on Earth to think of himself as the leader and founder of the open source movement. The biggest thing to come out of this -- aside from ESR's ego -- was the absolute cluelessness of the guy to the fact that the free/open-source software community doesn't think he has as big an impact on the tribe as he claims to. That delusion probably also made him mistake this initial feeler to be a 'job offer'.

Before I joined Microsoft, I was involved with the Java Community Process, which while not F/OSS, did follow the principles of community-driven software development that is such an important ingredient of F/OSS. I have used many open source solutions and have made minor contributions to some. So you could say I drank the kool-aid. When I look at it from that perspective, here is a guy -- admittedly an important figure in the F/OSS world -- with an opportunity to tell us in Microsoft why he wouldn't dream of being one of us. He could have framed his response in any manner of ways. The response could have been aimed at telling Microsoft where he thinks it is going wrong. Or aimed at marshalling the F/OSS rank and file. Instead he resorted to invectives and cheap shots.

Years ago, when I read "The Cathedral and The Bazaar", I thought of ESR as a bright and insightful guy. I have now lost all respect for him.

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2 Comments:

  • Confirm, but he's so.... a dumb! He's got a chance to make a great carrier, (a lot of) money and work on exciting edge technologies. Instead, he'll peg out on his "better-world" ideas, till he's an old and useless guy. =:-S

    By Anonymous Konstantin, at September 19, 2005 at 2:29 AM  

  • As a new recruit to the Microsoft ranks, I must say that In all my years working for various companies I was pleasantly surpised by the honesty and vision presented before me upon going for a role at Microsoft.

    I have had some brand politics thrown at me for simply admitting I was considering going to the "dark side" as some would put it. Yet, so far its been nothing but excitment, great package (family support) and above all a sense of "new" something I've not seen in other companies for quite some time.

    I was on the opposite fencline like ESR for many years (but not as vocal or opinionated as him) but It took an ex-ORACLE dev to show me that only the ignorant buy into the "politics" of technology as its not about "who has the best" or "who copied who" its about solving problems in a rappid manner.

    I agree, very disturbed posting and I'd wonder if ESR has lost perspective on OpenSource and now has become the "Corporation" he seems to hate so often (protecting his own shareholders, his public audience).

    By Anonymous Scott Barnes, at December 24, 2006 at 4:49 AM  

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