[Greasemonkey] Greasemonkeyed.com, userscript.org, forums, source code, and the future of our community

Josh Matthews mrlachatte at gmail.com
Mon Aug 1 15:47:23 EDT 2005


I love it.  I think that it is a great idea, as long as it is easy to
see when there has been a fix or branch, and get that version or the
original as your preference dictates.

I am also writing this email without apostrophes or forward slashes
because those keys open up the find bar every time you press them in
the nightly build :(

Josh

On 8/1/05, Aaron Boodman <zboogs at gmail.com> wrote:
> :-)
> 
> Sorry for the dramatic post title. Actually my nit is rather quite small.
> 
> I was just out taking the new beta Greasemonkey for a spin and I
> wanted to try out Greasemonkeyed.com. Fully half of the scripts I
> chose at random were broken, and not because of changes in
> Greasemonkey. Upon inspection, I found that sites had just changed
> slightly.
> 
> Annotate Google [1] seems to have fallen prey to a change to the
> <title> of Google's search results. I checked to see if GMaps Add
> Waypoint ever got fixed, and it hadn't. [2]
> 
> The problem here is that although user scripts are easy to write, they
> are hard to maintain. Typically the original author has lost interest
> and doesn't keep them up to date.
> 
> Here's where it gets interesting though: I am perfectly happy to
> update somebody else's script when it doesn't work for me. From my
> point of view, they already did the hard part. It's way easier for me
> to simply fix their script than start from scratch.
> 
> But I need somewhere to put this script. And I don't want to upload it
> to my server, give it a new name, etc. It's just a tiny variation -- a
> patch -- of the original.
> 
> So I propose that Greasemonkeyed.com or userscript.org or whatever
> evolve into this forum-like, flickr groups-like, deviantART-like
> community. Where people have avatars or signatures and identities that
> they care about. Where long threads of user scripts develop, each one
> an optimization, improvement, or fix on the same original idea. Where
> people can install something and be more reasonably confident that
> something will work because it was updated an hour ago.
> 
> So here's a use case:
> 
> * I'm browsing the scripts and run across one which adds del.icio.us
> tags to Google search results.
> * I install the script but see that it doesn't work.
> * After a quick debug, I find the assumption which was broken and fix it.
> * I go back to the site, go to the script, and click [post fix].
> Another option might be [post branch].
> * I log if not already logged in.
> * I add a little description of the fix, "Removed title check since it
> was failing. It wasn't really necessary since it was just preventing
> the code from running an xpath which would return zero results in
> cases where the title check failed."
> * I pasted my new script (or upload from local file) and press [submit].
> * Since I am a long time user, maybe my update immediately goes into
> effect. If I were a "new" user, maybe it would have to be reviewed,
> unless I were fixing my own script.
> * I go back to the page and see that my revision is posted. I can
> click [diff] to see a diff against the previous version, and also
> examine the complete revision history.
> 
> This effectively makes the pool of scripts the community's property,
> not the individuals. We all keep them up to date together. It also
> reduce the amount of garbage in two ways: first, it reduces the number
> of duplicates which are just bug fixes. Second, it decreases the
> chance of a broken script staying that way for long.
> 
> Of course, some people will still feel strongly about their personal
> work and not want it to become community property this way, even
> though they would always retain credit for the original
> implementation. I feel that this minority is small enough that we
> could just punt on it initially. But there could also be a checkbox on
> the submit form that allows you to disable fixing and branching.
> 
> A system like this is also interesting legally. I don't recall
> anything like this ever existing before. I would imagine the rate of
> code evolution would be really quite amazing, and that you'd quickly
> see versions of scripts which look basically nothing like the
> original. "Credit" would come more for the number of fixes, knowledge,
> and visibility in the community than that one magic script idea you
> came up with.
> 
> What do you guys think?
> 
> I know it's rude to suggest features for projects which you aren't
> contributing to. And I really can't say when I'd have time to help on
> either of these sites. But I do feel strongly that this would really
> strengthen the community and user scripting in general.
> 
> Just my random-ass thoughts.
> 
> --
> Aaron
> 
> 
> [1] http://greasemonkeyed.com/scripts/show/813
> [2] http://greasemonkeyed.com/scripts/show/771
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