[antlr-interest] [v3] Lack of documentation

Phil Oliver antlr at olivercomputing.com
Mon Jul 2 11:43:18 PDT 2007

This thread is not about ANTLR, but about the philosophy of open 
source software - so that's the context of my comments.

David wrote "Again, I think it's a limitation of our 
laws/institutions, and you can't blame Ter for it." That so-called 
limitation is actually a noble foundational principle of actual 
civilization: the concept that one's work morally belong's to one's 
self. It is no accident that the 20th century was the most brutal in 
human history - it was the era of the opposite principle 
(collectivism) put into the widest action, "from each according to 
their ability, to each according to their need."  Anybody who wants a 
fully fleshed-out treatment of the consequences of each principle 
(individualism vs. collectivism) should read the classic novel Atlas Shrugged.

The bottom line is that nobody has any right whatsoever to demand 
another's time/money/life for free. Even a trade must be voluntary, 
and a seller has a perfect right to refuse a buyer as well. The root 
reason is that each person's life belongs to themselves. If somebody 
chooses to give away software that they own, that is their right - 
and if they choose to sell it, and/or associated documentation, that 
is also their right. If somebody wants to write up documentation on 
ANTLR v3 that's better than Parr's, they can do that, and either give 
away or sell the result too, as *their* creation - but nobody else 
should be insolent enough to *demand* another's time. I would add: 
not only is it their *right* to sell a product, but they should be 
proud that others find enough value to buy it, and should not feel 
one iota of shame or guilt about providing such a value (nor should 
those giving stuff away feel smugly superior.)

Frankly I would rather pay a reasonable price for a piece of software 
that is proudly written and maintained by other programmers, so that 
I *can* hold their feet to the fire if their product has irritating 
bugs - and so that they can make an honest living from the creative 
expenditure of their time and hard-earned intellectual skills.

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