A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Michael Schwern created a Perl module for objects to represent database queries. You didn’t need SQL or other fancy things. Through various magics, it figured it all out behind-the-scenes and it worked. He called it Class::DBI, and it was good.
Later, Tony Bowden took over the lead maintenance role, set up a mailing list and wiki, and that was good too. One of the hallmarks of a good open source project is that you can pass on the reins to someone else, not only because people want to work on it but because a lot of people want to use it (those always don’t go together ;)
This week, there was a bit of a dust-up on the Class::DBI mailing list. You can still find the archives, but Tony killed the list. (Fear not, there is a new one already, even if it is just temporary).
Sebastian Riedel and Tony apparently had some off-list as well as on-list scuffles. Tony kicked Sebastian off the list and Sebastian came right back onto the list. Rinse, repeat. Finally Tony threatens legal action.
Update: Wednesday morning In a show of his willingness to compromise, Sebastian voluntarily removed his post from use.Perl. I’m optimistic that this can defuse most of the situation.
created used an his account on Use.perl (Correction: Sebastian tells me he had the account for a while, but hadn’t used it to post to the journal before) and posted to post his side of the story along with some private email between him and Tony in “What the hell is going on in Tony Bowden’s head?”. However crass that may be, he did it. He also disabled didn’t enable comments so and people couldn’t reply to his post (Correction: Sebastian tells me that this was uninentional. Indeed, whether comments are turned on or off is a preferences setting and not something you have to decide for each entry). From other posts and some private personal email with other people, I’ve gathered there were some disagreements about the feature set that would make it into the next release and how those would work. That seems to be the sort of thing that causes these sorts of problems: two people convinced they are right and unable to work together because of it.
Schwern replied in his own Use.perl journal that Sebastian fudged the story a little bit by linking to a seemingly innocent part of the email exchange. Schwern provided the links that show a lot of inflammatory language from Sebastian.
It gets worse though. Since Sebastian posted to Use.perl and Tony doesn’t like what Sebastian says, Tony threatens Use.perl (
a VA project Correction: Chris Nador owns Use.perl, but VA sponsors the site infrastructure) with legal action. Tony, a formerly respected member of the Perl community, now seems to think he has to burn down the village to save it.
No matter who’s right, these things don’t help either side. Indeed, as sigzero points out, this is just more fodder for people who think Perlers are a bunch ill-tempered miscreants. Where a rational person might just take the weekend off and let things blow over (or at least not inflame the situation), both sides seem to want to fight it out. They’ve forgotten that they both want a really cool module to get better, and maybe that means they don’t have to kill each other to make it happen.
Who cares about these petty problems? A lot of people are using Class::DBI and they want to keep using it. It’s not going to disappear. Even if Tony decided to delete every version on CPAN, the BackPAN still has all of the current and previous versions. Someone will just take his place.
The mostly sane workers and users really just want to get on with business, I’ve heard rumblings of a fork in Class::DBI. The only way around this might be to just bypass the personality problem by removing the personalities. I think that would tragic, even if it ends up being unavoidable. Can Class::DBI do that without bifurcating?
Do you think Class::DBI should fork?