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Offset Bad Code, With Bad Code Offsets 279

Posted by timothy
from the don't-blame-me-I-voted-foss dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Two weeks ago, The Daily WTF's Alex Papadimoulis announced Bad Code Offsets, a join venture between many big names in the software development community (including StackOverflow's Jeff Atwood and Jon Skeet and SourceGear's Eric Sink). The premise is that you can offset bad code by purchasing Bad Code Offsets (much in the same way a carbon-footprint is offset). The profits are donated to Free Software projects which work to eliminate bad code, such as the Apache Foundation and FreeBSD. The first cheques were sent out earlier today." Hopefully, they work better than carbon offsets, actually.
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Offset Bad Code, With Bad Code Offsets

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  • Deliberately bad? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @03:49PM (#30314976) Homepage
    Let me get this right-- you purchase this offset so that you can deliberately write bad code?

    Why??

    • by mea37 (1201159) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @03:52PM (#30315038)

      I think the intent is that you buy them as penance for bad code you've already written.

      Which makes them pretty much unlike carbon offsets, but I guess someone thinks they're being amusing.

      It's a clever fund-raising campaign for certain projects; I wouldn't read much more into it than that.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      No no no. Do you know how Carbon offsets work?

      My company spews out X amount of carbon a year. My Government puts a limit to Y amount of Carbon a year. Since it's detrimental to my business (reducing client base) to reduce my carbon output, I can purchase Carbon offsets so that some of my money goes towards greener projects. Thus I keep my clients Happy and I meet government regulation.

      Now, there is no LAW forbidding bad code. But the same basic principle applies: You want to reduce the amount of Bad code yo

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Obfuscant (592200)
        My company spews out X amount of carbon a year. My Government puts a limit to Y amount of Carbon a year.

        For your specific type of business. Other businesses have other limits. Other governments put other limits, or no limits, on businesses in their jurisdiction.

        Since it's detrimental to my business (reducing client base) to reduce my carbon output,...

        I don't know what you mean by "reducing client base". You won't lose clients if you reduce your carbon output. It may cost you a VERY large bundle of mon

        • I know - in an Ideal world, things wouldn't be set up the way they are right now. I was using this "Ideal example" of how carbon offsets should work to mirror the idea of how these Bade code offsets DO work.

          It's not going to reduce the bad code you've written, no. But it would (in theory, its practically impossible to imperically measure) go towards increasing the amount of Good code produced in the future.

    • by whizzard (177251)

      Let me get this right-- you purchase this offset so that you can deliberately write bad code?

      This model has worked well for cheat offsets [cheatneutral.com], too.

      • The site is a joke but it does not invalidate the idea of offsetting. And it is NOT properly analagous to carbon offsetting. The whole site is a 'false analogy'.

        Cheat offsetting does not work because cheating is a personal thing. Imagine peoples ABCD. A cheats on B then pays in to a offset scheme, this goes to person C who then does not cheat on person D (pretty sure relationships also don't work this way, further breaking the analogy). In the end person B is still heartbroken, while person D is saved.

        Com
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Uh, no... we force Microsoft to contribute to the fund to offset all the bad code they've already written, and use it to subsidize open source, which Microsoft then surreptitiously copies into their new products. See, it's a real win-win situation for everybody!
    • by jgtg32a (1173373)
      IDK it doesn't make any sense to me you might want to ask Al Gore and Arnold Schwarzenegger they both purchase Carbon Credits to offset their lifestyles.
  • The idea is ammusing and having the money donated to a open source project is cool but the prices are a tad high for my blood...
    • It won't be much if we just place a tax on all software sales.

    • The idea is ammusing and having the money donated to a open source project is cool but the prices are a tad high for my blood...

      At the risk of being whooshed, I hope you noticed that it's basically just a donation in pretty much whatever amount you want. The lowest amount they have right now is $1.50, though I would understand if they made it $5.00 or $10.00.

  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Thursday December 03, 2009 @03:50PM (#30314988) Journal

    which work to eliminate bad code, such as the Apache Foundation and FreeBSD.

    Wow, that's a quite direct attack.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @03:51PM (#30315006) Homepage

    * (carbon, code, whatever) offsets are really the Papal indulgences of the 21st century.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by clone53421 (1310749)

      Yup. Environmentalism is the religion of the 21st century... and just like any religion, it can be used to control the populace and ensure that those in power remain in power.

      • That's so funny, considering that those who oppose CO2 emission regulation control enormous amounts of wealth, and, until very recently, controlled all branches of the US government.

    • More or less yes, but the principle is sound. Offsets are voluntary so those who feel "guilty" pay.

      Essentially, no individual person or company pays for pollution - we all do, all across the world. I'm talking about any and all kinds of pollution, not just greenhouse gases.

      Carbon credits - the government taxy, non-voluntary way - is a good idea because if, say, GM releases a bunch of sulfuric acid into the atmosphere, they don't need to pay for it, or any of the costs it inflicts on the planet. Instead, everybody does.

      Credits are a perfect example of free-market ideals - polluting becomes a cost of doing business, and as the cost of polluting rises, companies will become more efficient or less profitable.

    • by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:14PM (#30315404) Homepage

      They are an attempt to provide an economic incentive to pollute less. Without such incentive, the tragedy of the commons ensures we will wreck our collective selves while seeking individual profits.

      This is not anywhere near the same thing as imaginary religious crap. It's economics, man.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dasunt (249686)

        They are an attempt to provide an economic incentive to pollute less. Without such incentive, the tragedy of the commons ensures we will wreck our collective selves while seeking individual profits.

        Instead of carbon offsets, why not tax carbon directly?

        Any carbon extracted from the ground in coal or gas format will be taxed per ton. Carbon derived from recent organic sources (trees, crops) would be exempt from the tax.

        Increase the taxes until our carbon use is at some desired target.

        The only downsid

    • I have to disagree a bit. We buy carbon offsets for our company for the driving we have to do between datacenters/client sites/etc, because this is unavoidable driving. That carbon offset spending will shift to electric vehicle purchases from Tesla when the price comes down a bit more (we've already reserved a Model S Sedan as a company car, but they're still too expensive to get for everyone).
      • And you've actually seen proof that Tesla's car is greener than other cars, with all production/manufacturing included (in both)? You are sure you're not just lining the pockets of people that are seeking to gain from the "go green" fad/hype going on right now? (including Al Gore, of course)
        • Physical science doesn't lie. Electric vehicles will always be more efficient than an internal combustion vehicle.

          http://www.teslamotors.com/performance/well_to_wheel.php [teslamotors.com]

          It's hard to go through life *without* spending money here or there lining the pockets of "bad" people, just because of how money filters through the economy. But with regards to this issue, I believe we've made the correct choice.

          • More efficient than internal combustion? Most definitely. Now, how efficient we are at producing the electricity to charge the batteries that power the electric vehicle is a question, too, though.

            Physical science doesn't lie, but marketers do, and you apparently always find "scientific evidence" for anything you want... you just have to be willing to ignore things, too. Yes, I'm a skeptic :P hehe.

            • I'd have to Google for the link, but the US Department of Energy showed that even using coal for the electricity for electric vehicles was hugely more efficient than combustion engines in each car, on top of the fact that you could have a real emissions control system at the coal generation faciltity vs catalytic converters.
    • Papal indulgences went to the pope. Carbon/code would be going to fix other wrongs. Think of it on a more personal scale:

      I eat a cake, cake is bad for me.
      To make things even I go for a jog.

      Is this evil? Of course not, it makes perfectly good friggen sense.

      How about a more corporate version.

      I run a logging company, I cut down a new growth forest that was grown for this purpose.
      To offset that I plant a new forest, one I will probably cut down in 10years.

      If you don't think it counts because it is one compan

  • by eddy the lip (20794) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @03:52PM (#30315040)

    "Hopefully, they work better than carbon offsets, actually."

    Way to ensure this whole thread goes off track, by trolling on an unrelated and politically charged topic. And with an example poorly chosen as proof of anything, at that.

    • by SomeJoel (1061138) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @03:57PM (#30315106)

      "Hopefully, they work better than carbon offsets, actually."

      Way to ensure this whole thread goes off track, by trolling on an unrelated and politically charged topic. And with an example poorly chosen as proof of anything, at that.

      Don't pay any attention to the last line of the summary. If you ignore it, it will go away.

      ... just like global warming.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Toonol (1057698)
      I've never actually met or talked to somebody that thought carbon offsets weren't a scam, except for those trying to sell them. I get your point about derailing the thread, but have to ask... do you actually think carbon offsets are legitimate?
      • Admittedly, I was awful tempted to just troll the heck out of this thread (never done it, and I have no foes, which makes me think I'm doing something wrong), but instead I will abstain. I really don't know enough about how they're being implemented to have an opinion. I do think it's more about implementation than the idea itself, but that's true of most things.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by devjoe (88696)

        I've never actually met or talked to somebody that thought carbon offsets weren't a scam, except for those trying to sell them. I get your point about derailing the thread, but have to ask... do you actually think carbon offsets are legitimate?

        There are two kinds of carbon offsets. The Wikipedia Carbon offset [wikipedia.org] article describes them as two markets, right up top.

        The larger carbon offset market is based upon laws limiting total industrial carbon dioxide emissions, and in this market companies buy carbon offsets in the amount of carbon dioxide they are emitting, and, yes, sell any excess ones they have to other companies. The difference between this and a simple tax on carbon dioxide emissions is that the total amount of offsets available in any ye

    • Way to ensure this whole thread goes off track, by trolling on an unrelated and politically charged topic. And with an example poorly chosen as proof of anything, at that.

      Too bad the moderation system for the most part extends only to comments and not the front page story its self. Mod the story and the editors -1 troll, dupe etc. and filter the front page like you would the comments in the story. If a story is modded into the ground, it doesn't show up on the front if you've set your view threshold high

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @03:53PM (#30315048)

    I can't really see how Microsoft can afford this...

  • by Radtastic (671622) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @03:56PM (#30315102)
    ... if the bad-code offset is a penalty after-the-fact for putting out bad code.

    And no, I'm not going to RTFA. This is a horrible idea.
    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:03PM (#30315240) Journal

      It's actually a great idea. Essentially its a way to donate to Open Source projects and better coding without having to decide which one and going through the hassle of contacting the project manager and trying to get his paypal information to send some cash over.

      It is not so much a penalty as it is a donation, simply because no one is forcing you. They simply structured it around an already existing system (carbon offsets) - probably to give it a more meaningful feel to it.

      • It is not so much a penalty as it is a donation, simply because no one is forcing you. They simply structured it around an already existing system (carbon offsets) - probably to give it a more meaningful feel to it.

        Then call it a donation. Meaningful feel to it? It feels silly, to me... not meaningful. :)

    • And no, I'm not going to RTFA. This is a horrible idea.

      I agree, RTFA is a horrible idea. So what is your thoughts on the bad code offsets?

  • ...to yet another place it will not work.

    A single incorrect critical line of code has the potential to bring down a system just like a single loose coupling on a remote control aircraft will bring turn it into a pile of broken wood. In some things any less than 100% just won't do the job. You can't offset that.

    • A single incorrect critical line of code has the potential to bring down a system just like a single loose coupling on a remote control aircraft will bring turn it into a pile of broken wood.

      You're missing the point. As long as that wood doesn't burn during the crash, the carbon remains sequestered!

      Why - what are you talking about?

  • by ghostis (165022) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:02PM (#30315214) Homepage

    Reply with your email address and I will send you my PayPal info! Thanks for saving Christmas^H^H^H^H^Hthe environment.

  • by ozbird (127571) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:02PM (#30315218)
    You mean like this?

    JMP 0x0BAD

  • Lutherans (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:06PM (#30315278)

    As a Catholic, let me tell all you greens and bad coders that letting people buy their way out of their sins just gets stuff nailed to your door. But good luck with it anyway.

  • Or slashdot would go broke in a hurry.
  • by arthurh3535 (447288) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:14PM (#30315402)

    No, it really is. It advocates that 3rd world countries can only advance to 1st world status by polluting... a lot. Instead of trying to develop these countries without all the pollution we had to do in the past, they are basically saying that 1st world countries have to subsidize that pollution advancement by lowering their own pollution in response.
     
    It's a totally assanine proposition and basically is advocating that it's fine for 3rd world countries to pollute if they advance themselves up.

    • by SomeJoel (1061138)

      No, it really is. It advocates that 3rd world countries can only advance to 1st world status by writing bad code... a lot. Instead of trying to develop these countries' software without all the bad code we had to do in the past, they are basically saying that 1st world countries have to subsidize that poorly written software by lowering their own coding standards in response. It's a totally asanine proposition and basically is advocating that it's fine for 3rd world countries to program poorly if they advance themselves up.

      Put that back on topic for you.

  • by gauauu (649169) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:23PM (#30315508)

    The day Alex announced this was the day I finally stopped reading the DailyWTF. It's gotten worse and worse over the past few years, with stories that were so embellished that you stop caring. The fun part about the site was laughing at real IT blunders. But Alex and his creative writing team overdid the writing to the point where the stories were often incredibly far from the real fact (the original submitters would often explain the "real" story in the comments". This might be bearable if their writing wasn't so awful. But often they interchange important character names, have horribly confusing grammatical constructs, and generally just make a mess out of the stories.

    Then to top it off, Alex shows up occasionally and comes up with nonsense like this instead of posting another story.

    I'm done. Yes, it was amusing for awhile, but I'm moving on.

  • by slim (1652) <john.hartnup@net> on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:31PM (#30315608) Homepage

    It seems like a lot of people don't get this.

    It's like a swear box. You know, in an attempt to get out of the habit of swearing, you put a dollar in box every time you swear. The contents of the box goes to charity.

    This is exactly the same, except that in this case the habit you're trying to get out of is releasing bad code.

    We all sneak out bad code from time to time - "it's ugly but it works; I can clean it up, or I can ship it and have an extra hour doing [insert recreation of choice]". The 'swear box' makes cleaning it up seem more attractive. And if you don't, a worthy cause benefits.

    The analogy to carbon offsets is pretty weak, but I guess it's wry humour of a sort.

    • by Xtravar (725372)

      It's not our fucking fault that management and customers demand sufficiently working code on time rather than perfect code late.

      I kind of feel offended by the whole idea that I would personally and deliberately release code that is not perfect in every way. :)

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I guess that's a dollar to the swear box.

  • by jameskojiro (705701) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:47PM (#30315842) Journal

    Maybe we can sell Stupidity Offsets to dump rich people, I can think of a couple dozen people in Hollywood who would qualify to buy these, they would go towards educating people in universities on the subject of physics, chemistry, and biology.

    Oh and I get to keep 10% of the money for my own "Operating Expenses".

  • Richard G blasted into space last year [facebook.com], and to offset the tons of jet fuel his spaceship burned, he purchased some carbon offsets. At a talk in Austin earlier this year, he made what I thought was an interesting point: carbon offsets might not work as effectively as planned, but they help get you in the habit of doing something about the problem. When/if we discover a better way, then you've already got the habit formed -- you just switch it to whatever this new method might be.

    I'm sure there are some flaws

  • Offsets are crap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rrohbeck (944847) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:52PM (#30315950)

    Now if we could have a tax on bad code on the other hand...

  • OK, I'm in the process of debugging somebody else's 43,000 lines of FORTRAN code. (I hate FORTRAN...). What I see in here would require a number of offsets which would cost approximately the entire US GDP to buy. This is not the first time I have seen code like this, either.

  • With all the hot air over-inflated Atwood and pals inject into the intertubes...
  • by Budenny (888916) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @05:51PM (#30317008)

    I work in the climate science department of a well known university in E Anglia, UK, and am proud to be the owner of a 4 x 4 and also an excruciatingly bad programmer. No, sorry, I got that wrong, I have no car, walk to work, and only write in equisitely structured C++.

    You can all assuage your guilt from driving those 4 x 4s and writing all that crap code in Python. Ruby or whatever by sending me large sums of money, and I will continue my low guilt lifestyle as long as the cheques keep coming.

    You can carry on shopping at malls in your 4 x 4s, and writing your terrible code.

    We will all be happy. I will get rich. Everyone wins. We save the planet. What's the problem?

  • by Quila (201335) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:43PM (#30317878)

    This seems to be more of a fun way to give to charity than the guilt-driven indulgence scam that is carbon offsets.

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