Benevolent Dictator for Life

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Benevolent Dictator for Life (BDFL) is a title given to a small number of open-source software development leaders, typically project founders who retain the final say in disputes or arguments within the community.

The phrase originated in 1995 with reference to Guido van Rossum, creator of the Python programming language.[1][2] Shortly after van Rossum joined the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), the term appeared in a follow-up mail by Ken Manheimer to a meeting trying to create a semi-formal group that would oversee Python development and workshops.[1]

BDFL should not be confused with the more common term for open-source leaders, "benevolent dictator", which was popularized by Eric S. Raymond's essay "Homesteading the Noosphere" (1999).[3] Among other topics related to hacker culture, Raymond elaborates on how the nature of open source forces the "dictatorship" to keep itself benevolent, since a strong disagreement can lead to the forking of the project under the rule of new leaders.

Examples of people sometimes referred to as Benevolent Dictators for Life[edit]


  1. ^ a b Guido van Rossum (July 31, 2008). "Origin of BDFL". Retrieved 2008-08-01. 
  2. ^ "Python Creator Scripts Inside Google". Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  3. ^ Eric S. Raymond. "Homesteading the Noosphere". Retrieved 2008-08-01. 
  4. ^ "New Developer Info". Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  5. ^ Randy Fay, "How Do Open Source Communities Govern Themselves?"
  6. ^ Ingo, Henrik (2006). "Benevolent dictator". Open Life: The Philosophy of Open Source. ISBN 978-1-84728-611-6. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  7. ^ "BDFL and moderation". Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  8. ^ "The Art of Ballistic Programming". 
  9. ^ Marneweck, Jacques (2006-02-28). "Jacques Marneweck's Blog: Rasmus's no-framework PHP MVC framework". Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  10. ^ "The Four Hundred--Next Up on the System i: Python". Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  11. ^ Guido van Rossum "Benevolent dictator for life". Linux Format. 2005-02-01. Retrieved 2007-11-01. [dead link]
  12. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ "Ruby's Benevolent Dictator"
  14. ^ "Sabayon Website". 
  15. ^ "Slackware's "About" page". 
  16. ^ "About Ubuntu: Governance". Canonical Ltd. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  17. ^ "Ubuntu founder defuses rumors of impending Microsoft deal". Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  18. ^ Chozick, Amy (2013-06-27). "Jimmy Wales is Not an Internet Billionaire". New York Times.