What communities of the OSS era are bad at is a critical assessment of their work. In the not-so-distant past, OSS was developed as side projects by professionals who decided to mutualize efforts. More emotional distance, so less of an issue.

When people join a community for the community itself, rather than for the community's product, it becomes almost impossible to formulate criticism from the inside. It's seen as an aggression.


@khinsen I agree that it’s frustrating when you’re trying to make a rational choice and emotions get in the way.

However development is fundamentally about people. Choosing a software dependency is, in part, choosing whether you’re willing to work (at some level) with the folks who develop it, with their values, tools, and difficulties.

I think it’s a mistake to think one can choose a free software dependency just like one chooses a “product”.

@civodul Agreed! But it's even messier than that in practice. There's the "inner circle" of project contributors, another circle with "direct" users who chose the software, and then many circles of increasingly remote users. At some distance, the relation to the people behind the project is lost.

Example: In a conversation with a physicist colleague, I learned that he considered Python to be part of Ubuntu.

@civodul FLOSS communties tend to focus on the first two circles, but they can have a big impact on people much further away. There is no effective feedback communication path for those people, who may well outnumber the inner circles by a large factor.

@khinsen Oh yes, true (likewise, many people call “Linux” all the software they get from their distro).

In large part, many users not familiar with free software suppose the product/customer applies here as well, causing some friction.

One goal of free software in my view is to connect people, “users” and “developers” alike. It takes a lot of effort though!

@civodul Also some redesign of the project Web sites. Pretty much all FLOSS project Web sites describe a product, with the community mentioned only as a footnote, if at all. True even for #Guix!

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