Honey, Vinegar, and Flies, or, F/OSS Won't Thrive If It Eats Its Own Young

Posted by tuxchick on Feb 8, 2005 5:05 AM EDT
LXer; By Tuxchick
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Anyone can whine. But lending support and making genuine contributions is what makes the F/OSS wheels go 'round.

The cool thing about the Free and Open Source Software world is it truly is a community. A big, sprawling, diverse, bickering community. Opinions abound; opinions breed like rabbits and spread like wildfire. A private dispute escalates into a public brawl, with total strangers from around the globe choosing sides and acting as though they have a personal stake in the outcome.

Of course it's not all bickering. There is also cooperation, friendliness, mentoring and support. It's not a homogenous community (I know, big duh- please bear with me)- some projects are notably civilized and friendly, some require rhino hide and flameproof suits. Truly anyone who wishes to participate can find a home.

The coolest thing about the Internet and the Web is anyone can be a publisher. "Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one." Publications even provide forums where anyone can post. Sure, you youngsters grew up with this. Us old farts think it is revolutionarily cool. In the olden days we had to write letters to the editor, and only a small percentage ever got published. It's the F/OSS model all over again- leveraging the power of millions of participants. Groklaw is the awesomest example of this. In the Dark Ages (pre-Web) SCO would have had unquestioned credibility. Yes, really! No "mainstream" "journalist" would have cared enough to do any real digging. Even with the power of Groklaw, it took almost two years before "mainstream" "journalists" started to wise up. And "analysts." (Is that a gravy gig or what? Post baseless nonsense, be wrong a lot, and you still get paid!)

So what's my point? In my elderly, rambling way I am pleading for more thoughtful, reasoned discourse. (So far LXer is a haven for this, yay LXer.) And I am asking for more support of the legions of good things in the F/OSS world. It's always easier to react out of anger. Anger is energizing. It is good to not suffer fools, and to puncture bullshit, and counter propaganda, lies, and FUD.

But we should also invest energy into positive support. As things are now it's like the good kid gets ignored because the bad kid gets all the attention. Every little mistake and misstep is pounced on, but achievements are overlooked. Praising the good is far more powerful and beneficial than nurturing a critical spirit and living only to find fault. We joke about "world domination"- that's not going to happen through endless complaining, fault-finding, and nitpicking. It's going to happen through generosity, forgiveness, mentoring, and encouragement. We have the biggest bully pulpit in the world at our disposal, so why not use it as constructively as possible?

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THIS REALLY PISSES ME OFF! PaulFerris 9 1,702 Feb 9, 2005 10:00 AM

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