Bruce Byfield is a technical writer turned journalist and I have to admit his technical articles are very good. As a matter of fact, every time he publicizes one, I wholeheartedly agree with him. But every time he roams away from that path he achieves nothing, but damage to his credibility as a technical journalist.
What most people are still unable to understand is that the FOSS community is the FOSS community. There is no central body that governs it. You can "criticize" it, but most people can and will simply shrug their shoulders and get on with what they're doing. Every time a wildfire breaks out, fierce comments are written, many blogs get updated and nothing really changes. Few people will start using Emacs instead of vi. Few people will wipe GNOME from their machine and start using KDE. The community is much more than just Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds and Miguel de Icaza. It consists of many thousands of tiny, small, medium, abandoned, forked, major and corporate projects.
Bruce Byfield is completely unaware of this too. In his latest misguided rambling 'Open Source Projects and the Meritocracy Myth' he lists a number of major projects with paid developers. As if meritocracy is and should only be applied there.
First, he obviously doesn't understand the full concept of meritocracy. Meritocracy in FOSS is about merits, not just "who is the best". If a paid developer can spend eight straight hours per day and provides most of the code he will obviously rise in the ranks, a fact that is clearly supported by the findings of the FLOSS polls, that infamous report that everybody likes to quote and nobody obviously read. Furthermore, in our capitalist world those who pay call the shots. The privilege that the community has is that if it doesn't like it, it can fork. Something that Eben Moglen recently confirmed.
Second, reducing the community to a few major projects simply doesn't cut it. Thousands of projects are not depending on paid developers. Are those projects not part of the community? Is there proof that meritocracy doesn't work there? "Yes", Bruce says, "talking about some of the barriers to women's participation in FOSS."
Ok, now it's becoming clear what this is all about: it's the whole feminist thing again! I know this trick, Bruce. As a matter of fact, I applied it as well during the previous discussion we had. Simply attack the fundamentals of an ideology and you're home free. Well, not this time, Bruce. You have to be better than that - and frankly: you're not.
Meritocracy is not the guiding principle of the FOSS ideology. It simply works best for these thousands of unpaid volunteers you're so eager to insult and attack on each and every opportunity you get. Proof? Here you got it. Source? FLOSS polls!
So Bruce, what will be your answer? Whine again that Sam Varghese and me "don't like you"? Like Sam said, we never met! I'm merely criticizing you. But before you criticize the community, note you're not part of it. You never contributed anything to it. It's like we Dutch say: "The best helmsmen stand on shore", meaning that those who have the most criticism on how to do better actually don't have anything to do with it.
We tend to use it in situations where some "advise" can better be ignored. Like yours, Bruce.
Update: Recently Bruce published an article titled "When people say it’s not personal, it usually is" on his private blog. It quickly turned out I was one of the people he meant. He accused me of being "obsessive".
The truth is I commented six times on four of his articles on three different subjects in the span of three years - with a pause of one-and-a-half year. Bruce produced about twenty-five articles on the last half year on Datamation alone. I have published about sixty on this blog in the course of three years.
Consistent disagreement? I don't think so. It is obsession or that you can't stand any criticism, Bruce? When I published these figures on his site, he conveniently closed the comments.. Nuff said.
Update: Obviously, Bruce monitors my blog as well. Shortly after I published this update, Bruce conveniently produced this post. No problem Bruce, after Caitlyn's posts concerning this subject I already had my answer ready. I didn't publish it, because I don't want to stir things up in the community. I feel bloggers have a responsibility as well - and they should be more aware of it.
Since I'm not afraid of a discussion, I also offered Bruce's post to LXer (boy, these guys are good!) and LT. Of course, since I'm unofficially banned from LT, Bruce didn't get any airtime either. <snif>! The snapshots keep piling up, Carla.. Don't say you didn't know.
Update: Although I have left Bruce alone for some time now, he continues to think "people are out to get him". Ok, it can't be me this time. I really had to bite my tongue sometimes, but it worked, I did it. Still, when he published this piece - obviously aimed at his other nemesis, Sam Varghese - couldn't remain silent, so I published this comment at his site. I'm not quite sure it will surface there, but here it is:
Well, when you choose sides (and despite your claims you're always "balanced", you do) you divide the world in two parts: those who agree with you and those who don't.Agree with me or not - that is a choice I leave to you.
When you take sides, you're bound to have criticism - which may be on the spot or completely beside the point. Apart from some rational arguments, which is which is up to anybody.
However, those people who criticize you are not out to "get you". If you continue to think that, you're showing signs of paranoia and I advise you to get some professional help.
Making yourself into a "victim" all the time will not get you more sympathy or more people who agree with you - because the issues simply remain.
Stop whining and grow up!
Update: My comment didn't surface. Why am I not surprised..