Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 8th Jun 2008 15:53 UTC, submitted by sonic2000gr
Legal The story of Hans Reiser, the eccentric file system programmer, is a tragic one. The author of the ReiserFS was arrested under suspicion of the murder of his wife Nina Reiser in 2006, and was declared guilty in April 2008. Some still placed doubts about the conviction, stating that he might be innocent. It now seems that all doubt has been quelled, since Alameda County District Attorney Thomas Orloff has revealed that Hans Reiser will disclose the location of Nina's body for a reduced sentence.
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RE[2]: Comment by Oliver
by Havin_it on Sun 8th Jun 2008 18:29 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Oliver"
Havin_it
Member since:
2006-03-10

It's a very compelling question. A bit OT (Hans did not commit murder to enhance his filesystem, I,m pretty sure) but certainly an interesting point.

It seems similar to this term I keep hearing on Law and Order, "fruit of the poisoned tree". Evidence of a crime, no matter how conclusive of a defendant's guilt, is not admissible in a trial if it was obtained by illegal means. Or course Sam Waterston & co. will usually find some clever way around this rule, and we'll (or are expected to, I think) applaud them for it.

This behaviour is almost unique because, as you indicate with the Nazi example, we tend to regard knowledge as a Genie that can't be kept in its bottle. We're always told to learn lessons from the Nazi era, so should one be subjective in that enterprise? I'm sure that, if the powers who got hold of those research data had decided to bury them for moral reasons, they would still have leaked eventually.

Of course, turning your nose up at working on (or using) a bit of software because the author--one of the authors, for accuracy--did a Bad Thing is not really comparable to the above. The software still deserves to be evaluated on its own merits. I think, though, that that is exactly what is happening, and the suggestion of unfair prejudice based on Hans's crime is spoken mainly by die-hard fans as an excuse, rather than an objective assessment of any community members' behaviour.

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