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Open Source Democrats Software Politics

To Open Source Obama's Get-Out-the-Vote Code Or Not? 356

An anonymous reader writes "There's a battle brewing amongst Obama's election team. The political folks want to keep the get out the vote code closed source so republicans never get access to it, but the programmers want it open sourced so it can be improved upon. 'In this sense, the decision to mothball the tech would be a violation of the developers’ ethical principles. But the argument is about more than whether putting the tech back in the hands of the public is the right thing to do. "The biggest issue we saw with all of the commercial election software we used was that it’s only updated every four years," says Ryan. It was these outdated options that convinced team Obama to build all the campaign tech in-house. If the code OFA built was put on ice at the DNC until 2016, it would become effectively worthless. "None of that will be useful in four years, technology moves too fast," said Ryan. "But if our work was open and people were forking it and improving it all the time, then it keeps up with changes as we go."'"
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To Open Source Obama's Get-Out-the-Vote Code Or Not?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:02PM (#42660333)

    Ok folks put up or shut up time

    Open source and 'bad people' can use your code. Or keep it closed...

  • Improving you say (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gadzook33 ( 740455 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:02PM (#42660351)
    Personally I wouldn't want my code maintained to levels I've come to expect from open source "standards".
  • simple. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThorGod ( 456163 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:03PM (#42660359) Journal

    Have the DNC set aside $400k or so to keep a 3 member team of coders updating it for the next 4 years. Don't forget, there are midterms in 2 years.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:08PM (#42660429) Journal

    Because they don't care about good policy, they care about their team winning.

  • by Sparticus789 ( 2625955 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:17PM (#42660507) Journal

    You mean the same way that Maryland gerrymandered districts to eject a Republican congressman? District 3 in Maryland isn't even consecutive, it is 3 areas of the state that are 10-20 miles apart. Only fair that some Republicans in other states get to do the same.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:18PM (#42660517)

    The GOP does not have very sophisticated get out the vote tools.

    Evangelical Christianity?

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:18PM (#42660539) Homepage Journal

    Open source and 'bad people' can use your code.

    Puh-leese, that ship has already sailed. They worked hard to re-elect a guy who, according to the NYU/Stanford report [livingunderdrones.org] has killed nearly a thousand civilians with drones, including 176 children, not to mention the number of injured.

    If these programmers' work was actually influential in the election's outcome (I doubt it, but for the sake of argument...) then they share in the responsibility for every additional man, woman, and child who will be murdered in the next four years. They could have chosen to work for one of the peace candidates, but declined to.

    There are no 'good people' in this equation. There are only political opponents.

  • Ethical concerns (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:25PM (#42660635)

    In this sense, the decision to mothball the tech would be a violation of the developers’ ethical principles.

    Unless the developers were tricked into thinking they were developing an open source software platform, I don't see where ethics come in. Why would a business release the software that is widely believed to have given it a competitive advantage?

    . "It’s going to send a very bad signal to engineers who might consider working on the next election cycle in 2016," says Rathee. "It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how we work."

    There are lots of programmers that understand confidentiality and realize that their code is never going to be open sourced. Is there a growing body of developers that want everything to be open sourced and free to the world?

    The things we built off of open source should go back to the public," says Manik Rathee, who worked as a user experience engineer with OFA. The team relied on open source frameworks like Rails, Flask, Jekyll and Django.

    Isn't this exactly the type of thing Rails, Flask, Jekyll and Django were built for? To allow developers to quickly develop and deploy applications? This is the kind of FUD that makes corporations afraid to use open source - they think that if they take advantage of an Open Source framework then they are obligated to open source their code even if it's used only for an in-house application.

    I don't see the source code for Google's search engine or Facebook's core code available for download even though both companies take advantage of FOSS software in their infrastructure -- that's not to say that they haven't released some of their support code, but the "secret sauce" that runs the business is still private.

  • by pixelpusher220 ( 529617 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:28PM (#42660675)
    The only 'fair' thing is to remove politics from the district drawing process altogether. Not easy or simple, but Money and Political District Drawing are 2 things that quite literally are a direct threat to our governmental system.
  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:43PM (#42660887) Homepage Journal

    if by batshit crazy you mean advocating the withdrawl of U.S. troops overseas and not wanting to start pointless wars, or supporting 1st, 2nd and 4th Amendment rights and opposing the expansion of TSA, Patriot Act, stop the indefinite detention of American citizens, or wanting to reduce federal spending and balance the budget, or legalize marijuana and stop the war on drugs, or support gay marriage and other civil rights for gays, then yeah I guess he's batshit crazy.

  • by kawabago ( 551139 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:53PM (#42660989)
    Getting more people to vote is good for the democratic process so the DNC should not look at it as a benefit to the Republicans but instead it is a benefit to all Americans. It should be open sourced so America benefits.
  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:56PM (#42661029) Journal

    How about we hang both Democrats AND Republicans who gerrymander? That's only fair.

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:58PM (#42661037)

    They are the same evil. Your mentality IS the problem with this country. You are what keep this bullshit going. Just stop... get out of politics. Don't vote... please. If only the people that actually cared about this country, and the people having hellfire missles landing in their livingrooms got to vote, then maybe we'd get somewhere. We're involved militarily in more countries now, than when Bush was in office. How is that the lesser of 2 evils?

    Often we hear about candidates that they are "Radical" or out of the "mainstream" If the normal mainstream is bombing nearly every country in the African continent, most countries in the middle east, ans southern Asia, then we definitely need a radical in office. The people do not need our "help" the help is usually worse than what they had before. Also, our country is on the fiscal decline. That's ok, we don't have to be the richest country on earth by several orders of magnitude. We can live comfortably... but we do not have all this extra money to be pretending to be the worlds police force. We have a crap ton of nukes, no ones going to invade us. So lets just scale back a "tad" Shit, if we spent the military budget on building bases on the moon we could just move there and let the world go to shit on it's own (just kidding, but really... the military budgets way too big.)

  • Re:false dilemma (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @05:05PM (#42661137)

    It's easy to do a lot of things, it's hard to do many things well without experience and trial/error.

    Such being the case, why make a big stink about it? Release it, and save everyone the trouble.

    Well, from an administration who would not release a birth certificate...

    My suspicion is they are relying on more than just public, free, and/or legal data.

    Posting anonymous to at least get a head start on the kill-squad.

  • You are making a critical error in your comparisons. You are comparing what Obama has said to what other presidents have done. Obama has been president for a full term now, it is time to look at what he has done.

    And if you do that, you will be hard pressed to find a single bill that he has signed that would not have been signed by Reagan. Hell, Obama has even raised taxes fewer times - for a lower total percentage - than Reagan did in his first term.

    Every president as a candidate says they will do various things, and each president accomplishes a varied amount of those things (one could argue Obama is distinct in how few of those he has accomplished). However if you are talking about what Reagan, Bush, Clinton, or Bush Jr did, then you need to compare it to what Obama has done. And if you do that, you'll find that he is easily the most conservative of the set. We can even go back further and add Nixon to that set and Obama is arguably more conservative than him as well.
  • by TsuruchiBrian ( 2731979 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @05:23PM (#42661341)
    If you are prone to accepting false dichotomies, then yes, that was the alternative. Otherwise the alternativeS were/are not voting for the lesser of 2 evils, and vote for someone you actually agree with. Is this not feasible because of our 2 party degenerate FPP voting system? Then maybe an alternative is working towards improving our voting system. These aren't easy alternatives, but usually the good alternatives are not easy. Democracy was not an easy alternative. Abolishing slavery was not an easy alternative. At one point in history people said these things were never going to happen. These goals may not even be attainable in my lifetime, but working towards them seems a much more worthy goal than picking sides in the internal squabbling of the republicrat party.
  • by LordLimecat ( 1103839 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @05:34PM (#42661473)

    Don't vote... please. If only the people that actually cared about this country, and the people having hellfire missles landing in their livingrooms got to vote, then maybe we'd get somewhere

    Has it occurred to you that in the 200+ years of only having US citizens vote (mostly), we HAVENT had a major revolution, we havent had a substantial invasion (excepting the War of 1812), we havent had any dictators, and we generally have been pretty stable compared to almost everywhere else (along with perhaps the UK).

    But no, our system is flawed and clearly the solution is to throw out what has been working remarkably well given how messed up people generally are. Lets go with anarchy, thats always a great fallback, right?

    If you ask me, I would go with "lets address the problems we have" rather than "lets throw it all away and hope things dont get substantially worse".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @05:51PM (#42661747)

    You don't consider the Civil war a major revolution? It is the war in which more Americans were killed than any other. There was even a President of the Confederate States of America. Seems pretty major to me. We haven't had a successful, violent revolution.

    Aside from that I agree we can assume the base of this democracy is solid. But it does need much work.

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.