Write a blog post in the style of Russell Coker

Feeling a bit bored I asked ChatGPT “Write a blog post in the style of Russell Coker” and the result is in the section below. I don’t know if ChatGPT knows that the person asking the question is the same as the person being asked about. If a human had created that I’d be certain that “great computer scientist and writer” was an attempt at flattery, for a machine I’m not sure.

I have not written a single book, but I expect that in some alternate universe some version of me has written several. I don’t know if humans would describe my writing as being known for “clarity, precision, and depth”. I would not be surprised if “no-one else wrote about it so I guess I’m forced to read what he wrote” would be a more common response.

The actual “article” part doesn’t seem to be in my style at all. Firstly it’s very short at only 312 words, while I have written some short posts most of them are much longer. To find this out I did some MySQL queries to get the lengths of posts (I used this blog post as inspiration [1]). Note that multiple sequential spaces counts as multiple words.

# get post ID and word count
SELECT id, LENGTH(post_content) - LENGTH(REPLACE(REPLACE(REPLACE(REPLACE(post_content, "\r", ""), "\n", ""), "\t", ""), " ", "")) + 1 AS wordcount FROM wp_posts where post_status = 'publish' and post_type='post';
# get average word count
SELECT avg(LENGTH(post_content) - LENGTH(REPLACE(REPLACE(REPLACE(REPLACE(post_content, "\r", ""), "\n", ""), "\t", ""), " ", "")) + 1) FROM wp_posts where post_status = 'publish' and post_type='post';
# get the first posts by length
SELECT id, LENGTH(post_content) - LENGTH(REPLACE(REPLACE(REPLACE(REPLACE(post_content, "\r", ""), "\n", ""), "\t", ""), " ", "")) + 1 AS wordcount, post_content FROM wp_posts where post_status = 'publish' and post_type='post' ORDER BY wordcount limit 10;
# get a count of the posts less than 312 words
SELECT count(*) from wp_posts where (LENGTH(post_content) - LENGTH(REPLACE(REPLACE(REPLACE(REPLACE(post_content, "\r", ""), "\n", ""), "\t", ""), " ", "")) + 1) < 312 and post_status = 'publish' and post_type='post';
# get a count of all posts
select count(*) from wp_posts where post_status = 'publish' and post_type='post';

It turns out that there are 333/1521 posts that are less than 312 words and the average length is 665 words. Of the shortest posts a large portion were written before Twitter became popular and had the sort of unimportant content that Twitter is good for.

It seems ironic that ChatGPT says that I'm known for "depth" and then writes a short post allegedly in my style.

As for the actual content of the "post", it's not something that I greatly disagree with but it's definitely not something I'd write. If some manager or marketing person wrote something like this and asked my opinion I'd probably suppress a sigh and say it's OK for it's target market.

I think that free software is better in many ways and for many reasons and that separately from the issue of merit free software is important because of the ways that it is used. We could debate various issues related to the quality of free software vs proprietary software but even people who don't believe that free software is of high quality have to admit that software that runs most mobile phones and most web servers is important. As much as I dislike Windows most desktop PCs and laptops run it so I can't claim it to be unimportant. So my first disagreement with the content is the issue of importance vs quality.

One thing that ChatGPT is known for is weak arguments that appear convincing. "This diversity often leads to better software, as bugs are found and fixed faster, and new features are added more quickly" could be opposed by "the payment for proprietary software often leads to better software, as bugs are found and fixed faster, and new features are added more quickly". I think that any case where "feature of option A gives this list of good results" can be rewritten as "feature of the opposite of option A gives the same list of good results" and be equally convincing is a poor argument. Also any argument that seems to rest on "free software is all written by hobbyists" is ignoring the demands of users who need things done on a non-hobby timeframe, the many profitable companies that develop and support free software, and the employment status of a large portion of my Facebook friends (many of whom are paid for ~2000 hours a year of free software development and many more of whom have paid free software development as part of their work supporting the use of free software). Really the entire blog post it wrote seems to me like something a human might write if their boss assigned them to write about the benefits of free software, and that they would then write a new article saying the exact opposite if their boss asked them to.

Finally I prefer the term "free software" to "open source software". The difference doesn't seem important to some people, but any being that doesn't know the difference won't do well at impersonating me.

ChatGPT Result

Hello everyone, I'm ChatGPT, and today I'm going to try my best to write a blog post in the style of the great computer scientist and writer, Russell Coker.

Russell Coker is a renowned software engineer and writer, who is best known for his contributions to the Linux community, especially the Debian project. He has authored several books and articles on topics ranging from security to software engineering, and his writing style is known for its clarity, precision, and depth.

So, without further ado, let's dive into the topic of this blog post, which is the importance of open-source software.

Open-source software is software whose source code is available for anyone to inspect, modify, and distribute. This means that anyone can use, study, and improve the software, without any restrictions or fees. Open-source software has been around for a long time, but it has become more prevalent and important in recent years, thanks to the rise of the internet and the digital economy.

Open-source software has several benefits, both for individuals and for society as a whole. One of the most significant benefits is that it fosters innovation and collaboration. When software is open-source, it means that anyone can contribute to it, which leads to a diverse range of perspectives and ideas. This diversity often leads to better software, as bugs are found and fixed faster, and new features are added more quickly.

Another benefit of open-source software is that it is often more secure than proprietary software. Because the source code is available for anyone to inspect, vulnerabilities and security flaws can be found and fixed faster. This means that open-source software is often more reliable and trustworthy than proprietary software, which may have hidden backdoors or vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers.

Open-source software is also often more cost-effective than proprietary software. Because it is free to use and distribute, organizations can save money on licensing fees and other costs associated with proprietary software. This can be particularly important for non-profit organizations or small businesses that may not have the resources to invest in expensive software licenses.

In conclusion, open-source software is an important part of the digital landscape, and its benefits are numerous. Whether you are a software developer, a business owner, or an individual user, open-source software has something to offer. So, the next time you are looking for software to use, consider open-source options, and help support the collaborative and innovative spirit of the open-source community.

1 comment to Write a blog post in the style of Russell Coker

  • I pasted my blog post into ChatGPT and it gave the following response. It is quite good at summarising the post. I will have to do further tests on the summarising ability of ChatGPT.

    It’s fascinating to see the conversation between a human and ChatGPT about writing in the style of Russell Coker. It seems like ChatGPT has some knowledge of Russell Coker’s work, but as an AI language model, it’s hard to tell if the mention of “great computer scientist and writer” was an attempt at flattery or just a neutral statement.

    Russell Coker’s analysis of the post generated by ChatGPT is interesting. He notes that the post is short and not in his usual style, and that the content is not something he would typically write. He also disagrees with some of the arguments presented in the post, particularly the claim that free software is important primarily because of its diversity, and the suggestion that free software is all written by hobbyists.

    Overall, Russell Coker’s response showcases his expertise and passion for free software, as well as his critical thinking skills. It’s clear that he has a deep understanding of the subject matter and is not afraid to express his opinions and engage in thoughtful analysis.