[linux-elitists] Closed Source Tests damage careers, schoolchildren

Karsten M. Self kmself@ix.netcom.com
Tue May 22 12:40:34 PDT 2001


on Tue, May 22, 2001 at 09:36:52AM -0700, Ben Woodard (ben@valinux.com) wrote:
> > On Mon, May 21, 2001 at 05:44:01PM -0400, Bulent Murtezaoglu wrote:
> > > >>>>> "SL" == Ron Guerin <ron@vnetworx.net> quoting slashdot:

> > >     SL> [... horror story ...]  It's a fascinating
> > >     SL> story of the risks of going with a closed source vendor - how
> > >     SL> the company acts to perform damage control, lies, stalls,
> > >     SL> compartmentalizes the damage by telling each complainer that
> > >     SL> they are the only one experiencing problems, [...]

<...>

> > "A post-mortem of how this error spread unimpeded for so long lays
> > bare a basic truth of standardized testing: school districts lack
> > the ability to uncover serious testing errors on their own, and must
> > rely on the testing companies to do so voluntarily."
> > 
> > The only place I think you're wrong, is that it's not a risk related
> > to closed-source.  While you can certainly find an inept open source
> > vendor, you can examine the source to verify errors, or get them
> > fixed.  When using a closed-source vendor, the risks you take by
> > using their code are far greater.  You cannot examine the code,
> > meaning you have no way to see the actual error in the code (or have
> > someone else examine it for you), or have it fixed.  You're
> > completely at the mercy of the closed-source vendor.  This would not
> > be the case with open source.
> 
> Quite honestly, I think for cases like this have an open bug tracking
> system in this case would probably have done more to contain the
> problem than having open source code. 

<...>

> The real problem was that the company was trying to cover up the
> problem by telling everyone "everything is OK" when it had multiple
> reports of similar problems.

I'm agreeing with this assessemnt.  Having seen some open source
development in which quality control was not addressed honestly,
directly, or expeditiously (over strenuous protests from the QA manager
and yours truly), the CTB/McGraw Hill incident is hardly specific to
closed source.  With free software, you've got less room to hide; users
can dig through the codebase and see what's wrong.  But a subscription
service based on free software in which data are shipped to a processing
site and results returned could fail in precisely the way CTB did.

-- 
Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>    http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?       There is no K5 cabal
  http://gestalt-system.sourceforge.net/         http://www.kuro5hin.org
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