Saturday, January 5, 2008

A little respect, please!

It is quite commonplace to talk about "the" FOSS community, but like I've stated so many times, there is no such thing as "the" FOSS community. As a matter of fact, there are many communities.

To me, that is the logical result of the bazaar model we adopted. And like any bazaar, there are good merchants and bad merchants, may be even crazy merchants for all I care. But there is one thing they all have in common: to satisfy their clients needs by making better and better products.

Every merchant will tell you that it's only possible to sell a product when you properly market it. So when your competitor uses FUD, you will have to do something. The first one is to disprove his claims, which is perfectly acceptable - although it is not always that effective. The other one is outrage, which is less acceptable, sometimes effective and sometimes not. Depends largely on who you are addressing. The final one is spreading FUD yourself, which puts you on the same moral level as your competitor but may have the same effectiveness.

Because we're a bazaar, not each and every merchant will choose the same strategy. It's a matter of personal choice, like the programming language we use, the way we indent our sources or the editor we use. And we're all human, that's why we discuss and will continue to discuss those matters. That is good. Discussion may open up new points of view and clarify the choices that we make. Even in how far we are willing to sleep with the enemy is open to discussion.

There is a large body of people who can be considered to be part of our community. Users (yes, even MS-Windows users to some degree), programmers, translators, writers, bloggers, you name it. Some are paid, but most are doing this in their free time, simply because they are passionate about providing the best software to our users. Because that is in the end all that matters. And those people deserve respect. No matter whether they are professionals with a hobby or simply amateurs. It is the end result that counts. The visitors of the bazaar are the final judge.

There is a lot of respect among the people that form the community. You may or may not agree with Miguel de Icaza, Richard Stallman or Linux Torvalds, that doesn't mean you have to call him a fruitcake. Because that hurts. Even more when it is coming from within the community itself. Disqualifying entire parts of the community by suggesting they are fruitcakes is unheard of.

You may expect such a thing from a rogue FOSS fundamentalist, who cherishes each and every pure GPL line, but not from someone who made it his profession to give the community a voice. It's about the software, man! You may earn a living writing about it, but your only purpose in life is to inform and serve us, who make the software. And because we make the software, we have every right to write about it in any form or shape we see fit. You do not have that monopoly, even if you consider yourself to be a professional and we're "just" amateurs.

If we choose to research our blogs, you do not have the right to call us "obsessive". If we are concerned about the FUD that destroys our work, you do not have the right to accuse us of "extreme paranoia". If we are attacked and we react, we do not suffer from a "lack of civility and a quickness to give and take offense". If we feel that "there can be no truce with [insert object of obsession here]" we have every right to vent that opinion. Or was the First Amendment repealed while I was sleeping? "Many of the sort of people I'm talking about know that 'conspiracy theory' can be negative term, and are insulted if you apply it to them". Well, doesn't everyone?

Some may think that I have a grudge against each and every editor I've met in my life, but that is not true. I have to deal with editors every single month and for most I have the utmost respect. That may have to do with the fact that I feel respected by them too. I simply demand the same courtesy from this journalist. Not only for me, but for all my fellow community members who create software, translate messages, write documentation and blog about the things we feel are important. Even if we sometimes disagree about the details..

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

But Miguel IS a fruitcake.