I’m tired of the judgment and self-righteousness I see in the open source community. I’m tired of seeing it inside my company. The in-your-face, public shaming techniques to get others to change their behavior don’t work. Have the recent or previous public attacks on Canonical really changed their approach or caused them to do any real soul searching? If you were attacked the same way would you?
I grew up around religious circles that prided themselves in degrees of religious purity. They measured (judged and looked down on) others based on their own self-defined behavior codes. In some open source circles we have the behavior code of “the best and most right and pure way to do open source software.” It gets taken a step further which is, “there is only one right and pure way to do software and if you are a believer in the right and pure way to do software there are no justifiable reasons for behavior that might contradict those beliefs.”
Perhaps there really is a “best way” to do software development, but telling me there is no excuse for buying an iPhone if I’m a fan of open source really rubs me the wrong way. It doesn’t encourage me to want to see things differently. If you know what kind of cell phone I have, you know I don’t have a horse in this race. People claiming to have the answers for everyone rarely do.
Yes, I’m a fan of open source. Yes, I wrote this post on a Mac. Yes, there are more than two colors in the rainbow.
One of the key aims of the Fedora Project is creating and and shipping a Linux distribution using only free and open source software. This is a value that Fedora has stated as important to itself. It makes me cringe when I hear people in Fedora lament that other projects are “doing it wrong” or “not as free as we are.” Maybe they aren’t. Maybe that is not one of their stated goals or highest values. Maybe there are other reasons that aren’t widely known. There may be long term benefits from the approach Fedora has taken, but I don’t see what is accomplished by saying everyone has to approach open source software Fedora’s way.
I’ve had similar experiences with people passionate about global warming, sustainability, eating local, and organic food. People with an attitude of “you’re doing it wrong because you do not shop or live like us” do not make me want to embrace their ideas or thoughtfully consider them. It pushes me away. I’ll embrace and believe something because it has become true for me not because I’ve been shamed or judged into thinking it is something I must do. I really like the way Donald Miller pushes this idea further in his article I’d Rather Be Hated than Loved with Conditions.
My views on sustainability and food are shifting. Partly as a result of spending lots of time with new friends where acceptance doesn’t feel conditional. They are a great source of information on these topics and explain their views well, but that is where it ends. They don’t try to coerce me into thinking or believing their way and there’s no subtle undertone of pity or arrogance when I don’t. This freedom (one of Fedora’s core values too) to make up my own mind is refreshing. It also increases the possibility that I might embraces their position.
I think Donald Miller is onto something when he talks about loving other people, particularly in the way he describes Jesus doing so. I know it sounds weird in the context of open source software development–some of you probably think I’ve already lost my marbles–to say we should “love each other,” and yet I think it could have more lasting benefits for everyone. Isn’t that one of the tenants of open source software–to benefit everyone?