Monday, July 31, 2006

Death of NDOC

I caught the news first from Bill Wagner's blog that NDoc 2.0, the documentation tool for .Net developers, was losing its main developer and motivating force, Kevin Downs. (And incidentally, I never saw anything useful on either Digg or Technorati about it. Simple Google is still the best place to look.) Here's what Kevin had to say in an email that was quoted in dozens of blogs:

As some of you are aware, there are some in the community who believe that a .Net 2.0 compatible release was theirs by-right and that I should be moving faster – despite the fact that I am but one man working in his spare time...

This came to head in the last week; I have been subjected to an automated mail-bomb attack on both my public mail addresses and the ndoc2 mailing list address. These mails have been extremely offensive and resulted in my ISP temporarily suspending my account because of the traffic volume.


The standard line of bloggers has been, more or less: What a shame, what a loss to the community, why aren't these mailbombers contributing, that's what happens to open source projects.

It certainly is a big loss. But to be honest, I don't see it as a huge deal. Bill sees it as a problem with the whole open source software model, which I disagree with - I think the Asterisk project is one counterexample. The email, to me, has a bit of a defensive tone, like the writer's lost all his enthusiasm for the project and is looking for an excuse to get out of it. (I've sure been in that position, and it's got nothing to do with open source!) Is NDoc really that heavily used? Doxygen has the advantage of working with more languages, so it's my preferred tool, but I would think if there are that many people interested in using it, surely someone can step up as a new administrator, even if the project languishes for a while. And a mailbomb attack? Do those really still work? I would have thought any administrator would have been able to block some IP's and stop it. I guess it was the product of someone's bot army; but that brings up another point: anyone can launch a mailbomb or DOS attack. You can make one person mad online, even for a perceived rather than an actual insult, and the attack can come. If you're a small organization, you just have to weather the storm and move on.

I'm not saying Mr. Downs made the wrong decision; far from it. It's his life and his work and we should be grateful for whatever he is willing to donate to the community. But let's accept it and move on without getting huffy about it.

Oh, and maybe I better see if Doxygen could use any extra coders...