Is this a question to the management, the elite, or the masses?
I will answer it from my own opinion down here in the masses:
What's wrong with using the GPL or a variety of similar copyleft licenses?
Why not have an "attach code" box that allows you to specify from a list of approved licenses, all of which are copyleft to some degree?
I'll share how this directly affects people here with an example that happened to me just this evening.
I recently got screamed at, well-actually, typed at, by a few people for posting GPL'd code for HAMP Home Loan Modifications here. This is a hot topic important not only to many people's finances and whether they can stay in their home but also as a public policy topic that gets argued back and forth.
The spec of how to do HAMP modifications is a US Federal public document, subject to change, and outside my control so I lose very little releasing GPL'd code into a big forum and would have a lot to gain trying to see if I could learn some good refactoring and UI techniques or possibly find partners by demonstration. I made clear, which I think is only honest, that I wanted to create a subject oriented website from it and that my intentions were to find some of the partners right here and now.
The immediate remarks in the initial minutes were a mishmash of the following and so I voted to delete:
- stackoverflow is not the place to start your business
- stackoverflow is not the place to refactor code [despite several postings of that nature already and studies of, say, how to write factorial algorithms in 50 languages (I contributed "Oh fork, another example in Perl" that forks log(2,N) times)]
- You must use the cc-share alike license
- You may have lost all the rights to your code the moment you posted it here (an attempt to annoy and scare? I thought only that big software company people hate uses FUD. Anyway not true, I'm afraid; I had to go read and find it but cc-share alike is based in the rights of original creators and allows alternative licenses from the original creators and on this point is similar to the GPL)
- Go read legal, or, hand it to your lawyer and run up a bill if you are at all serious about this (implying suspicion that I don't know WTF I'm doing)
- You can't take ideas from here and make proprietary, non-free code with it (actually, as someone above points out -- mere ideas have no copyright; as to suggesting I want to steal code, aint that a great way to greet someone who wants to do something positive?)
- Why don't you go to refactormycode.com? (this might have been helpful as there is such a place or it could mean just go away...)
I don't know if any of the people who were upset are partners of the stack overflow business or just users like myself.
Of course I am aware of the meritocracy driving the site, to give super duper users powers similar to partners, and that there are a few arrogant people mixed among all the helpful ones. People who unfortunately believe that a 2,500 in front of their name means they are definitely not a user "just like myself" with only a 450.
A lot of programmers and others are out of work..... so what's wrong with trying to start a shoestring startup here, based on free code, and meet similar enthusiasts? If it goes nowhere, no one is hurt. If it goes somewhere, it doesn't have to be by stealing ideas or robbing the customer.
So what's the deal with the specificity in licensing and the attitudes. Can't the forum be adapted to accept various licenses, goals, and attitudes? Thats my answer at least... the license should be anything reasonably compatible with the goals of the forum.... Or is this place only about one liners, homework questions, and the like...?