Author Topic: A Letter to All Members of this Community  (Read 1189 times)

tschak909

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A Letter to All Members of this Community
« on: July 18, 2008, 05:42:45 pm »
*deep-breath*

These are my thoughts, and my thoughts alone. They do not represent the opinions of other members of this project.

I am somewhat dismayed, at the changes happening in free software communities around this planet.

I've been a free software developer and user for many years, I started using free software in 1988, with the first install of GCC 1.4.2 on a second hand VAX to compensate for the fact that I could not at the time afford the DEC compiler tool chain that I needed. As the years have progressed, I have witnessed the birth of what are indeed thriving communities today, and it is amazing where we all have gotten, in a relatively short time span of almost 25 years since RMS's original emacs announcement.

But as these communities have amassed people, the ethos of them has changed. There is no longer a sense of "We built this."

It really hit home for me, when I saw people lynching the KDE people for their work on the Plasma UI, and KDE4, calling for everything short of it being burned because it was not complete, and that people simply did not like it. What makes me sick, is that the most vocal of these people who have been trashing the public reputation of these developers are people who didn't help them in the first place, yet they feel the need to use their right of free speech to trash it.

The sense of contribution and hard work has been replaced by a consumerist sense of entitlement, the "I discovered free software, and I am entitled to screaming at other people to do what I want until I have it." mentality that I see infecting free software projects, and quite frankly, it makes my heart sink.

In the beginning, all software was free, it was something the hardware needed to function, and thus, everybody got source code, and in the beginning, everyone who used the computers had a direct connection with the code they were using and were modifying it to fit their needs. They had to.

But it was this sense of getting down in the dirt, and learning, and making what they were working on better that brought the community together in the first place. This is all but gone now; replaced instead, by people who just want free things, of no cost to them, but to the developers instead who are still down in the dirt trying to make the software they are using, better.

If this is making you embarrassed, good. That's the point. Because chances are, you haven't been helping enough.

This is a free software project. The code you are using, has been prepared over many years, by many different people. Several companies have been involved in its creation, some of them still here, some not.

Their hard work is available to you, free of charge, and under a license that allows you to modify it and distribute it to others. It is therefore good manners to give back to those who have so graciously given their time, energy, and sometimes even their health to provide something that is available to all of you.

Make no mistake, this letter is a spanking. This letter is a big paddle whack on the butt of every one of you who have not contributed a line of code, who haven't contributed documentation, helped people on the forums, tested code, helped create needed art-work, or other aspects of this project that we so desperately need. If you haven't contributed any of these things, you should feel embarrassed.

Why haven't more of you attempted to write code? or write documentation? or given art-work? I know each and every single one of you has a talent that can be of use to this project, and we desperately need it. We tend to listen to people who pull their weight around here.

Earn your voice, either:

* Code
* Write Documentation
* Perform creative services (audio, video, etc.)
* test software
* answer in the forums, or IRC channel
* OR SHUT UP!

-Thom

guigolum

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Re: A Letter to All Members of this Community
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2008, 10:00:14 am »
i may be totally wrong, because i am not use to the people you talk about(actually, i'm not used with the project in its whole).sorry if it's the case.

dude.. every body is not able to write code. everybody can't be sure of his knowledge enough to think he can make documentation that could help other. everybody can't simply read question and then guess the good answer. there is always a learning phase.

i understand you're disappointed in seeing that people think that 'open source' equals 'free for all, no work behind', but for some people, a programm is just to be used. plus, one may not be sure where his work could be usefull, in many case one would even think he can't help. don't take it for you, but this project is SO huge, that one can easily feel drowning in the code/doc/features

by the way, maybe there is a way to support(i mean, with money) the devs team? i haven't even looked for it, but you don't talk about that kind of help in your post.

nite_man

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Re: A Letter to All Members of this Community
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2008, 01:31:38 pm »
Quote
Earn your voice, either:

* Code
* Write Documentation
* Perform creative services (audio, video, etc.)
* test software
* answer in the forums, or IRC channel
* OR SHUT UP!

Hardly but justly.
Michael Stepanov,
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Russian LinuxMCE community: http://linuxmce.ru

JimmyGosling

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Re: A Letter to All Members of this Community
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2008, 04:13:56 pm »
I agree with Thom 100% on this one.  I'll go as far as to even say continued contributions to the project are needed and a requisite to your voice in the community. 

Many seem to have forgotten that this is a group of volunteers.  Do you know a friend who works on cars, house repairs or something of the sort? Do you invite him over to your house, have him do your work without praise or compensation and then tell him what he could have done better? No, you don't! Why do people seem to think that's the way things can work here?

Creative criticism is good.  The community needs a great deal of feedback and debugging for it's incredible amount of functionality.  And I know from personal experience that the process can be very aggravating at times.  You make a sizable investment and sometimes it doesn't pay off. 

I'm one of those who believes that the expectations set by the demo video were extremely high.  You think you can run out, buy or build a cheap computer, hook it up and show it to your friends later that night.  It's just not going to be the case.  My expectation for this project has always been that I'm going to be working on tweaking this system for the next 10 years of my life, maybe longer.  If I can get a couple of things running to show off before then, that's great.  I've personally been amazed by this project from the beginning and fully appreciate the people donating their time to it.