What is jazz? Man, if you have to ask, you'll never know.
- John Coltrane, responding to a reporter
A classic line in software development is that it's better to beg forgiveness than ask for permission. There's a new site on the web called RailsForge, intended as a Rails equivalent to RubyForge. RailsForge's first step is to ask the community, "should we exist?"
My prediction is that a whole ton of discouragement will be headed their way. Any time you ask permission without even giving people something concrete to evaluate your proposal with, the inevitable result is not just negativity, but often irrelevant negativity. Since you're not giving people anything concrete to respond to, they're responding to what they imagine you might do.
Likewise, since you're not giving people anything concrete to respond to, you usually don't get any responses from busy people, who are usually the source of the most useful responses. I don't mean to sound grumpy or self-important, but busy people often have more common sense than to evaluate hypotheticals when there's so much real stuff to do.
Starting something which fails sucks, but putting your toe in the water is just silly. Do it, or don't do it. Asking for comments when there's nothing to comment on just leads to divisive arguments at worst and being ignored at best. After all, starting something which fails might suck, but it sucks a lot less than never doing anything because nobody ever gave you permission.
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