[erlang-questions] Re: Volunteers wanted for new project

Michael Turner <>
Thu Jul 22 16:03:39 CEST 2010

> I'm an Erlang newbie so I'm qualified to talk about this :-)

Perhaps in an emperor/new-clothes kind of way. ;-)

I think your suggestion of consolidating the various Erlang sites takes us
somewhere near the root of the problem: erlang.org isn't a typical
myfavoritelanguage.org site.  It's essentially the open-source face of
Erlang/OTP, which is a corporation's product.  If you click on "About
erlang.org", the only human identification for this supposed non-profit
organization is the word "we", in the sentence "we are releasing free of
charge [some source code, libraries and documentation]".  In context, "we"
is Ericsson giving permissions, and Ericsson Computer Science Laboratory
acting within the limits of those permissions.

In short, if something that non-customer users consider desirable for
Erlang/OTP hasn't happened at www.erlang.org, it's probably because there's
no corporate budgeting for it, but corporate *also* won't allow it to be
done by volunteers.

There's no Guido.  There's no Larry.  There's not even a Bjarne.  Say what
you want against BDFLs (and I have, I have), we're not getting some of the
benefits of having one.  There's just a big corporation that actually tried
to kill Erlang/OTP at one point, but which is now grudgingly putting in some
money and allowing some of us out here to see things and contribute patches.

I'm not keen to venture a strong opinion about what would happen to Erlang
if its center of gravity happened to shift to some point outside Ericsson
corporate walls.  It's possible the result might not be good for Erlang.
 (Several decades of industry-watching have given me a healthy respect for
the Law of Unintended Consequences.)  But there might be a more effective
community, even if that community couldn't substitute for all the benefits
Ericsson brings to Erlang.

BDFLs rule, in part, through the "B" (benevolent) part -- they know they
have to bend a little to serve a community of volunteers, or else those
volunteers -- and even the entire code base -- can just walk away, leaving
them powerless. Ericsson?  It probably doesn't care that much.  Corporations
are beholden to stockholders seeking ROI, customers wanting products and
services, governments requiring tax payments and regulatory compliance.
 Volunteer hackers on code it has open sourced?  Priority #12 or #13.

If I were at the VP level at Ericsson, and a proposal somehow got up to me
about organizing nicely cataloged user-contributed packages written with
Erlang/OTP (which would equally available to Ericsson competitors), I'd be
furrowing my brow and asking, "Sounds like a worthy cause, a great project,
but ... could you explain again what's in it for us?  I must have missed
that part."

-michael turner

On Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 10:17 PM, Pietro Maggi <>wrote:

> Hi,
> I'm an Erlang newbie so I'm qualified to talk about this :-)
> On Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 3:07 PM, Tim Fletcher <> wrote:
> >
> [SNIP]
> >
> > Combining functionality from other sites with the same design/domain
> > of erlang.org would reduce the fragmentation, i.e. how about moving...
> >
> >  tryerlang.org to try.erlang.org
> >
> >  planeterlang.org to planet.erlang.org
> >
> >  totally-erlang.com to jobs.erlang.org
> >
> >  trapexit.org to wiki.erlang.org
> >
> This seems to me the best solution to this problem, by far.
> Where can I sign to put my vote on this?
> regards
> Pietro
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