Talking of classifying living organisms, one of the most well known people in this field is Linnaeus. A strength of Linnaean taxonomy is that it can be used to develop a simple and practical system for organizing the different kinds of living organisms. Over time, our understanding of the relationships between living things has changed. Linnaeus could only base his scheme on the structural similarities of the different organisms. The greatest change was the widespread acceptance of evolution as the mechanism of biological diversity and species formation. In short, the properties Linnaeus had chosen to create his hierarchy of species were feeble at best. Even less well known is that Linnaeus originally established three kingdoms in his scheme, namely Plantae, Animalia and an additional group for minerals, which has long since been abandoned for obvious reasons.
Some have argued that the human mind naturally organizes its knowledge of the world into systems. This view is often based on the epistemology of Immanuel Kant. Anthropologists have observed that taxonomies are generally embedded in local cultural and social systems, and serve various social functions. Let's face it, people simply like order. It neatly organizes the chaos around them. Of course this isn't true. The chaos is still there, we just don't see it anymore. Any ostrich will tell you that is a smart move. A good example is our love for hierarchies. In the real world, there are very few real hierarchies. Tim Berners-Lee, arguably the inventor of the World Wide Web, put it this way:
Many systems are organised hierarchically. The CERNDOC documentation system is an example, as is the Unix le system, and the VMS/HELP system. A tree has the practical advantage of giving every node a unique name. However, it does not allow the system to model the real world. For example, in a hierarchical HELP system such as VMS/HELP, one often gets to a leaf on a tree (..) only to find a reference to another leaf (..) and it is necessary to leave the system and re-enter it. What was needed was a link from one node to another, because in this case the information was not naturally organized into a tree."
Accepting that the basic way to order information was a network gave us the World Wide Web and killed off the hierarchy based Gopher. BTW, the term taxonomy may also apply to relationship schemes other than parent-child hierarchies, such as network structures with other types of relationships. Taxonomies may include single children with multi-parents, for example, "Car" might appear with both parents "Vehicle" and "Steel Mechanisms"; to some however, this merely means that 'car' is a part of several different taxonomies. The basic problem is not taxonomy itself; it's the people who devise and use them.
I agree, this introduction was a bit longer than I intended and so far I have only scratched the surface. I will refrain myself from going into the Tractatus of Wittgenstein or any work of some major philosopher for that matter. I just want you to understand that there is a whole world beyond classification. It's not just drawing a few lines on the back of an empty cigar box and scribble some labels above them. I think that is why I rarely venture myself into the field of classification and preferably only if I have to. And even then I'm painfully aware that I'm probably making some pragmatic and arbitrary choices rather than designing a classification that will stand the test of time.
Classifying people is even more dangerous. The best and the worst have tried and failed. Classifying people has been one of the core evils in human history. It has been used as an excuse to murder, deport, mutilate, enslave, exile and torture people throughout time. It's what I've been calling "labeling" all the time.
One of the people who cannot restrain himself to venture in this field is Bruce Byfield, who is an excellent technical writer by the way. And he'd better restrict himself to this field, because his talents on other fields are - let's say - limited. In one of his most recent articles, he tries to classify the FOSS community and consequently fails. I can easily find myself in several categories, which means the classification itself is of little use.
Yes, I do object to Microsofts business practices, which means that according to Bruce I must "hate Microsoft". No, I do not hate Microsoft, because that's an emotion. I merely think that the industry would be better off if its influence would deminish. That's an opinion based on valid arguments, which is by any measure a significant difference. I do use proprietary software from time to time because there is no other way to fulfill my needs. Which makes me a "mainstream advocate". And yes, I find $150 for an Operating System an outrageous high price, which makes me a "bargain hunter". On the other hand, I maintain several FOSS projects, so I'm an "Open Source developer" as well.
I fail to see how of a combination of my spending habits, my hobbies, my attitude to certain business practices and the choice of my software are a valid way to put me in one category or another. In short, I cannot escape the conclusion that this is just another stupid list. It pretends to be a useful aid "to navigate you through the community", but as a matter of fact it is of no use to anybody. And poor Bruce is not alone. Every now and then a blogger, an editor or a writer of some kind ventures in a field he knows so little about.
I have some little advise to you all: read the Tractatus of Wittgenstein for starters, try to understand it and come back later. Having faced your mental limitations will have been such a humiliating experience that you'll think twice before you ever publish such a stupid list again.