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"More often than not flame wars are precursor to forks - an indication that all is not well within the project. Flame wars can also happen if a radical new design or a drastic change to the project such as a license change or replacing a subsystem with a better one. Flaring opinions and bruised egos can damage the project but also enhance the project by hammering out new ideas in a public discussion (because the discussion is public also means the stakes are high). Bureaucracy and forced conformism is detrimental to the growth of a project. But this is the way order has been established in traditional companies. Flame wars and discussions are central to the development of OSS to explore different design issues, but they also harbor the potential to destroy the camaraderie in a project. It is important that they be taken in the right spirit or the whole project suffers. The reason why flame wars have got a bad reputation are they often get political and personal. But flame wars can also bubble up "thought leaders". If a guy makes a convincing argument and backs it up with working code he will definitely win the confidence of the community."

http://www.osnews.com/story.php/9501/Flame-Wars-Forks-and-Freedom/page2/

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