Kyndig and Dead Souls

Back in 2005, when the first prototype versions
of Dead Souls were ready to be released, I looked around
for a means to distribute the lib. I hit upon the
obvious, Sourceforge, immediately.

Eventually came to my attention
because of its widespread recognition, influence in the
"mud community" (whatever *that* is), and obvious
depth and quality of its software archives. My code
was accepted, and soon enough I was granted ownership
of my little Dead Souls corner of the site.

There was a moment during which I found Kyndig's
enforcement a bit precipitous
, but at the time I
reasoned that, lacking thorough documentation on the
issue, I might have pulled the trigger on a GPL
violator just as quickly.

I shrugged off complaints against Kyndig as a
familiar variation of the "admins suck!!1!" song I've
often heard before. Non-admins typically have no idea
how punishing it is to be diligent in your duties, and
the Kyndig complaints sounded pretty much like the
ill-justified wailing of children I was familiar with.
I even went so far as to try to articulate this in
a flame thread that started over a controversial
banning on mudmagic. To my dismay, not only did my
post disappear, the entire mudmagic flame board went
away. This was the event that made me start to see
things differently. Like the "big twist" in an M. Night
Shyamalan movie, everything shifted over just one
degree, but it changed the meaning of everything
that had gone before. And, like an M. Night Shyamalan
movie, I felt dumb for not having seen it before it
was rubbed in my face.

I began to reevaluate the controversial banning
itself. Back when it happened, I'd thought that Tyche
richly deserved some sort of sanction because, well,
frankly, I just didn't like him much. When I heard
that Kyndig banned him, I thought that sounded way too
harsh, but assumed that as much as Tyche had been an
asshat with me, he'd probably been plenty annoying
to Kyndig too, and Kyndig probably just got sick of
dealing with his shit. I've gotten fed up with people
myself, and I wasn't in a position to judge Tyche's
punishment, really. I just shrugged and said, "good

When I heard Samson had been banned, I was very
surprised. Based on the dispute I had seen on the
moderator list, it seemed clear to me that Samson
was pretty well justified in being angry, and that his
responses, though intemperate, were reasoned, non-
flaming, and pretty humorous to boot. Nothing I
saw seemed to justify Samson getting kicked, and
this made me extremely uneasy, but, again, I just
assumed I didn't know the whole story, and on Kyndig's
site, he's the boss. I let it go, and, as mentioned
above, even chided people for leaping to conclusions
about it.

The next straw was "the dog that didn't bark."
You know the Sherlock Holmes story where he figures out
the owner was was the culprit because on the night of
the crime the dog didn't bark? The next thing I
expected was a public declaration from Kyndig about
his reasons for his actions. I have led people before,
and good leadership requires that when you cut major
players from a team, you need to explain why in a way
that clearly demonstrates your reasoning, your
justification, and gets buy-in from everyone that you
did it for legitimate reasons, and not pettiness.

The reason this is important is that if you
don't let people in on your decision-making, then
cutting people doesn't look like a justified act of
administration. It looks like a vindictive purge.
There may have been some vague mention about keeping
the site stable and such, but nothing that spoke to
the remaining contributors and moderators in a way
that made the actions sound *right*. To me, anyway.

Even then I thought, "Well, maybe he's not a
good leader. Doesn't make him *wrong*."

Then came the removal of the flame board, and it
started to dawn on me that Kyndig's administration
might not just be flawed, it might be fundamentally
misguided. I'd heard rumors about Kyndig brooking no
dissent, but this was stunning all the same. It's one
thing to frown on people complaining, but to remove a
forum dedicated to complaining, because people complain
about *you*, is damned hard for me to sign off on. To
me it doesn't matter that there are business interests
to protect. Controlling information actually does work,
and it is an efficient means to protect your business,
but an organization that operates this way loses my
respect. It seems to me especially foolhardy to operate
this way in an internet business, where spirits tend to
be high and resistant to censorship.

It was at this time that I made a compromise I
regret. I decided that I might not like the way Kyndig
does business, but it *is* his business, and it is of
benefit to me in distributing my software. I mightn't
like it but his site was useful, and I wanted to continue
to use it to promote my work.

In rapid succession I have learned of more
outrages. I can't know for sure it's all true, because
it isn't first hand experience. But as best as I can
gather, the following has happened:

* People speaking up for Samson and/or Tyche on mudmagic
have been banned.

* People speaking against Kyndig on sites other than
mudmagic have been banned.

* Kyndig has enforced restrictive policies on people
unrelated to these issues, based on affiliation with Samson
and/or Tyche.

These are the things that to the best of my
knowledge actually have happened. There are many other
rumors and allegations I've heard, equally appalling,
that I cannot fairly say probably are true, so I'm
omitting them.

I've come to the conclusion that I can't in good
conscience continue to have Dead Souls hosted on Kyndig's
repository. I find his behavior abhorrent to the
ideals of openness, fairness, and good judgment. I find
his hostility to criticism to be failure of character. I
believe that his weaknesses as a leader make him unfit
to hold any authority over the distribution of Dead Souls.

This will come at some cost to me, I suspect.
Mudmagic was a swell place to host my content, and I
respect and admire many of the the folks still there. I
hold no grudge against them for their decision to stay
there and keep their mouths shut. They have their own
consciences and their own reasons, over which I am
not qualified to pass judgment. For me, I know this will
mean a slower adoption rate of Dead Souls in general.

But I cannot abide the idea of the mud community
seeing any affiliation between Dead Souls and Kyndig.
His association with my software taints it, corrupts
its image, and I find it intolerable.

Update, Sep 1 2006

This document, at this point, used to say this:

"I am therefore asserting my authority as
copyright holder of post v1.1 Dead Souls, and revoking
the privilege of distribution of that software from
Kyndig or any site under his control."

It was, when written, an attempt to sound
important and make a big declaration. At the time, I
had been under the impression that once downloaded,
a GPL licensed work was beyond the reach of its author.

There were various debates going on about
this, and lots of opinions were thrown back and forth.
Persuasive cases were made on both sides of that question,
and frankly I teetered back and forth on which I
thought was correct. In the end though, I was persuaded
that GPL was a great fortress behind which adopters
were proof. Mostly my reasoning was "Why else would
you have it?"

Therefore, to me they were empty words...a
simple gesture with no practical effect, because Kyndig
could easily download the GPL version elsewhere,
slap it on his site, and I'd be powerless to do anything
about it.

The kind readers of the mudconnect site have
updated my understanding of this, and gently redirected
my opinion of my action in this regard. I see that as
author, I do indeed have copyright that supercedes any
verbiage in GPL, and I now see the fragility of
Open Source, which depends on the continued trust of
authors' responsible exercise of copyright.

As a developer, I'd rather have a reputation
for responsible copyright behavior than keep my pride.
I am therefore stating here that my revocation of
Kyndig's right of distribution was made under erroneous
assumptions, and is no longer in force.

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