Talk:Linus's Law

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Credit where credit is due[edit]

Linus Torvalds didn't think this one up. He stole it in pure Dilbert-fashion! I worked with guys many, many, years ago that said basically the same thing. "The only bug free software is that code written one line at a time by a committee of experts all sitting in an auditorium facing a giant marker board" ...or something to that effect! This whole article is typical trivial factoid of no use to anyone.

It is also commonly said that virtually all bugs can be fixed in a single line of code. But that's another "der", or "stating the obvious", just like this article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:39, 5 August 2009 (UTC)


Shouldn't "Linus's Law" be "Linus' Law" ? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 00:37, 4 June 2004

No, because the second S is pronounced - David Gerard 00:16, 4 Jun 2004 (UTC)
What? If it is pronounced, then it shouldn't be. Learn english you fool. - Graham, March 2006.
"Linus's" is correct, or preferred if you prefer. "Linus'" is possessive plural and would be correct only if his name were Linu and there were more than one of him. I don't believe this to be the case. ;) Jerry Kindall 15:35, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
That's the dumbest most uneducated thing I've seen at this site in a long time. And that's saying a lot. OK I'll let it be. I'll let the world laugh at you instead. That is if they even give a shit. Which is unlikely. -- — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 02:38, 15 March 2009
I may be wrong, but I believe that as his name ends with an S, it should be "Linus' Law". Richmd 14:27, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
See Stokes' law as an example. Richmd 14:31, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Actually, the current name is correct. In English, singular nouns are treated the same for the genitive case, whether they end in s or not: the genitive is formed by appending the ending 's. It is for plural regular nouns that the terminating s is not used. See Saxon genitive. That other article should be moved to correct its name, I will do so now. Capi 15:59, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Actually a redirect from Stokes's Law already exists, that points to Stokes' law. I've just RfDed the redirect, so as to be able to move the main article to its correct name. Capi 16:21, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Are you going to put in a redirect request for Achilles' heel? Fowler's Modern English Usage ISBN 0198691157 has an article on "possesive puzzles", the jist of which is that --s' used to be the norm and is still retained in poetic and reverential contexts; otherwise add the s, so Linus's Law. [OT: Stokes' Law--it predates the 's usage, and is to some extent reverential.] --Philbarker 16:21, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Fowler's is great - but I believe ESR wrote it, "Linus' Law", in The Cathedral ... - does that help, or just confuse everything?--Shtove 20:42, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
Don't believe, go read it: --Philbarker 21:38, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
Oh yeah, I see. That's the current HTML version - I read something earlier (probably the original), so maybe he read Fowler's (American spelling version) in the meantime! Cheers.--Shtove 23:23, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
I don't know of any American spelling version of Fowler's, but I can assure that the article I cite above is from the British/English version of Fowler's. Perhaps the version of Cathedral you read had been edited by someone who hadn't read any Fowler. Anyway, can I take it that we're agreed on Linus's? --Philbarker 18:21, 10 February 2007 (UTC)
LMAO. There's the drain; watch Wikipedia go down it. Whoosh. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:41, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
I'd say Fowler would have been horrified by an American spelling version of his book. The version of Cathedral I read (I've lost the link) was on an ESR webpage - the whole thing has been revised and updated quite a bit. Anyway, no disagreement from me.--Shtove 20:50, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

This article is about the law of linus torvads and how it affects software development .. please donot post Non NPOV . Leningrad

We've apparently agreed on "Linus's Law", but there has been no change to the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 21:27, 26 June 2009

Isn't it interesting that the folks who got it wrong here --- Linus' --- are defensive and mean-spirited? Meanwhile, the folks who got it right --- Linus's --- are humble in tone or simply cite manuals of grammar? -- —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 15:55, 3 November 2010 (edit) (undo)

The ocular effect[edit]

Is this derived from what Linus said? Or is this "ocular effect" older than Linus? Either way, I thought it was worth sticking in this article. --DavidCary 17:06, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

For future reference, since the term "ocular effect" (as something conceptually similar to Linus' Law) is not yet popular enough, I will leave this link describing it. Nathan J. Yoder 08:52, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Keeping criticism without a rebuttal is not NPOV[edit]

The rebuttal of the pointed-out criticisms was removed by Njyoder with this edit. I don't believe the way the article is now is NPOV, though. If criticism is presented, the other side should have a chance as well.

I have made an effort to revive the rebuttal, in a way which I hope will be more acceptable to everyone. Feel free to improve it, but I don't think it should be flat out removed. Capi 05:13, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Wiki systems[edit]

Don't most open wikis (including Wikipedia) use this law as a basis? Should we mention this? - Kookykman|(t)e

I think it is significant, however I also believe it has more impact in its obviousness than it would were it stated acutely. But just the same something along the lines of: "Wikimedia projects, such as Wikipedia, are examples of development that has embraced Linus's Law" might have a positive impact on the reader. Can somebody improve that statement? 19:16, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Merge or link needed[edit]

Many eyes fallacy should be either merged into, or linked from, the Criticism section of the accompanying article.
--Jerzyt 16:32, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

Mathematical interpretation[edit]

This para is awkwardly phrased - I suspect it was written by the Italian guy whose webpage it links to. Don't know enough to fix it.--Shtove 20:36, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

The Criticism section is also very awkward. It's full of run-on sentences and fragments. Pimlottc 09:20, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Not only is it awkwardly phrased, but it provides neither more information nor more clarity---and those should be the only motivating reasons to introduce pseudo-mathematical terminology to a non-mathematical discussion. Certainly, any elementary school student who's just learned what an algebraic variable is can attempt a "mathematical interpretation" of almost anything, but that doesn't make it math, and doesn't make it useful. I'm deleting the section. 13:37, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Oh, yeah, and I love the "can be shown that..." part. The author of this section ought to spend a few years studying the notion of mathematical proof and a copy of Mythical Man Month before signing-on to his AOL account again. Sorry to be harsh, but this is the kind of garbage that typifies the faux-intellectual "blogosphere" (gag). Why can't we just block all users/IPs who attempt to link to pages? 13:46, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Relationship to Brook's Law[edit]

I think it is important to note that Linus's Law was a response to Brooks law as the difference between the Cathedral and Bazaar models of OSS development, if not a philosophy for overcoming brooks law.

Also, something that has changed since the adoption of Brook's law and Linus's law is the stress for the necessity in open source projects for conforming to coding standards (meaning code that should do the same thing should look the same across programmers, despite the fact this is NOT done by nature, or hardly simple). That, and the stress for "extreme" code documentation. Many large projects that adopt a bazaar model, specifically Mozilla, frequently reject code for poorly standardized programming technique in addition to poorly documented code.

This "standardization" reduces the effects of brooks law by keeping OSS developers "up-to-date" with projects in general without needing to know specifics of a particular project (a major cause for initial communications overhead).

This is the foundation for Linus's Law to have its desired affect. Without that premise, it is merely an ideology.

Hopefully the above can be used to correct some of the many problems mentioned above in the criticism section. 19:06, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

"Other usages"[edit]

Do we need to add a section every time Torvalds makes a joke on a mailing list about Linus's Law number n, or do we have to demonstrate some kind of notability here? Marnanel (talk) 02:30, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

Too Much[edit]

I removed the following on the basis:

  • not notable: these laws aren't scientific laws in the first place! - this is like arguing with the logic of a joke.
  • it is argumentative, and there is a difference between argumentative and critical.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Blablablob (talkcontribs)

*snip* removed copy of the deleted section for brevity; please see the diff instead -- intgr [talk] 00:31, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

Expanded citations[edit]

Located specific pages in the sources cited. I've revised the last paragraph to support the cited authors' position, which agnostically supports one element of the "law": more source code review is good. This unfortunately left the claim "simply declaring that they do not personally believe the law is true" without a citation to support it. Help? --Lexein (talk) 01:36, 25 December 2010 (UTC)

Hard to cite source[edit]

You & the readers are welcome. I'm not entirely happy with how I improved the formatting of that citation in - but it is a lot better than it was. The "original" is just the abstract and bibliographic data visible without login. Giving the archive version first link gets around that. What I ended up doing, works well enough for the readers, is much better than what was there, and saved doing a custom in bare markup. — Lentower (talk) 20:22, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

@Lentower:Hi there! Okay I'm trying to catch up with this issue here. I wasn't aware of {{cite conference}}, cool. But I'm confused as to the specific purpose of citing a conference. Wouldn't that be for just the supporting materials which are bound directly to a live presentation — for example, citing a slideshow document? I can clearly see in your link that it was first introduced at that conference, but I'm not sure we're citing the conference itself. This is an individually published document, so wouldn't {{cite journal}} be the thing to do? Furthermore, I think that there are some limitations of the citation templates in this case, like where the same publication is published in two different formats. I think according to logic, they should be within the same citation, but according to the lame templates, there should be one citation for the print version and one citation for the digital version. And the two would be differentiated perhaps by "type=book" or "type=PDF".  :-/
Am I correct in thinking that the purpose of the paywall is to sell the print version? Or are they vending a PDF version of something that's also freely available on the author's academic web site?
Otherwise, the closest strategy I'm aware of would be a minor fuzzing of the 'others' field which would be better than the present abuse of the archiveurl field. That is the typical protocol for an ancillary publication of the same thing, such as a translation. When I first encountered this issue years ago, I used archiveurl but then I realized that's not just for any old archive; it's explicitly for a web site which has since disappeared, so it's only for Internet Archive and WebCitation (which is inferior due to precarious funding) and such.
It's apparently not a reference in this article yet, but I'll also put it in <ref> just to show the formatting.

{{cite conference|conference=Int. Conf. on Collaboration Technologies and Systems (CTS) | location=Philadelphia, PA |conferenceurl= |first1=Jing |last1=Wang |first2=J.M. | last2=Carroll |url= |title=Behind Linus's law: A preliminary analysis of open source software peer review practices in Mozilla and Python |doi=10.1109/CTS.2011.5928673 |pages=117-124 |publisher=IEEE Xplore Digital Library |date=2011-05-27 |accessdate=2014-08-11 |others=[ Web version] }} [1]


  1. ^ Wang, Jing; Carroll, J.M. (2011-05-27). Behind Linus's law: A preliminary analysis of open source software peer review practices in Mozilla and Python. Int. Conf. on Collaboration Technologies and Systems (CTS). Web version. Philadelphia, PA: IEEE Xplore Digital Library. pp. 117–124. doi:10.1109/CTS.2011.5928673. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 


  • I choose {{cite conference}} over {{cite journal}} because I have no evidence the paper was published in a journal, or on paper at all. I see no difference between having the name of a conference or the name of a journal in a citation.
  • I don't know what is needed to login to that IEEE website, or why they require logins.
  • Fuzzing |others isn't a solution.
  • It's unusual (or at least the citation templates don't handle it) for an archive version to be the best available (except for dead links). E.g. here where there is a primary that needs registration to be seen.
  • It would confuses the reader to note the need for registration. As I left the citation, they click the title and get a PDF (as noted in the citation) of the full paper.
  • Yes, the citation templates don't handle edge cases well, including many cases where a source is published in several ways.
  • My goal was to make the info already on the page more easily understood and accessible to the reader.
  • If you see a need, please do further research and clear these issues up for yourself and perhaps the readers. What is there is good enough. — Lentower (talk) 22:43, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Linus' law, not linus's law[edit]

There's a spelling mistake in the article... the title. If you use the spellchecker, it says the right spelling is "Linus' NOT linus's (talk) 05:59, 9 May 2016 (UTC)

Sorry, that's incorrect. This is a singular possessive form, not a plural. You're not talking about a possession held by two people named Linu. — Smuckola(talk) 07:17, 9 May 2016 (UTC)

I think "research has indicated" are weak words to use in the first paragraph, but I don't know the correct way to notate it on the main page. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:23, 18 October 2016 (UTC)


"the persistence of the Heartbleed security bug in a critical piece of code for two years has been considered as a refutation of Raymond's dictum". I think it should be called a principle, rule, hypothesis, postulate or else, other than law (in comparison to the laws of physics or the laws passed by a legislature). On the other hand, intuitively, it looks like the Linus' Law (as Smuckola(talk) correctly points out) is a fairly general principle, considering the number of free and open source software available. — Preceding unsigned comment added by LoneStar123 (talkcontribs) 17:34, 7 November 2016 (UTC)