Proposal: Open Source

The site description currently reads:

Proposed Q&A site for questions regarding motivation, marketing, organisation and coding pertaining specifically to open source projects.

What sort of coding questions do you anticipate being asked? I'm struggling to think of coding questions that only apply to open source projects. Additionally, there is the question of significant overlap with Stack Overflow.

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One thing I can imagine is questions about how to modularise specific programs as much as possible. Something that is necessary in open source more than anywhere else.

Building on the example of modularity as a reference for the larger discussion of the direction of the site, I would hope to see discussions around community practices (e.g. in managing modules), rather than technical discussions. As overactor says, there are already resources out there for technical discussions (like programming and I would add modular development), but a very few on how to manage a project which employs modular development.

I like the proposal's theme:

questions regarding motivation, marketing, organisation and coding pertaining specifically to open source projects. ...but I would limit the "coding" to none technical discussions (point to existing work) and rather focus on coding issues like, "how to learn to program through open source projects," "creating/enforcing coding standards/styles" "managing diverse/multiple programming languages in a project" "auditing code submissions (security)" etc.

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Here's an example of a "How to modularize" question which is pretty specific to open source.

Scenario:

  • I want to use some code published under Apache 2 (so, no derived works gotchas) in a commercial product.
  • I need to make some modifications and extensions to it which need to remain closed (perhaps they would expose the workings of some secure hardware).
  • The changes involve more than just adding new methods to the API. I would have to change the implementation of some existing functions.

Question:

  • How do I make my changes so that the proprietary code can be under a commercial license, while maintaining the Apache 2 status of the original code?
  • How do I do this in a way that avoids me having to fork (and hence maintain) the upstream project?

The proposed answer is likely some along the lines of

  • Modify the original functions to call 'hooks' in another module
  • Push the modifications upstream, along with "dummy" implementations of the hooks
  • Put your proprietary hook implementations in a separate file (or better yet library) which is under a closed license.

Now, I don't even know if this answer is correct ... and I'd actually like to know.

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This is an important question. I'm not quite sure if we can find a subset of programming questions that fit on Open Source better than on SO or Programmers.

One thing I can imagine is questions about how to modularise specific programs as much as possible. Something that is necessary in open source more than anywhere else.

If we can't find good coding questions that fit, we might have to reconsider the scope, so I encourage everyone to try their hand at asking an example coding question, even if you're not sure if it's a good one; it's the best way to define the scope.

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modularizing is no more (or less) important to open-source development than it is to any other "type" of development – warren Jan 20 '15 at 14:20

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