Another post on open source civility


On a recent Rubenerd Show I talked about the reception NomadBSD had received in certain quarters like Reddit, and how a vocal pluality deemed it unnessesary because it didn’t fill any purpose for them. Ignoring the logical fallacy so vast one could drive a lorry of Walnut Creek CD-ROMs through it, what’s the point of such belitteling statements? Just because it’s not useful to you, doesn’t mean it’s not useful to someone else, to spell it out.

Which leads me to this article by Tim Anderson in The Register about the developer of Actix. I’ve heard of Actix, and I’m not even a Rust developer or user beyond Firefox being my primary browser. It has some impressive performance stats, especially compared to other CMSs run on similar servers. I checked it out when I was flirting with moving off gohugo and static site generation.

The maintainer of the Actix web framework, written in Rust, has quit the project after complaining of a toxic web community - although over 100 Actix users have since signed a letter of support for him.

“Be[ing] a maintainer of large open source project is not a fun task. You[’re] alway[s] face[d] with rude[ness] and hate, everyone knows better how to build software, nobody wants to do homework and read docs and think a bit and very few provide any help. … You could notice after each unsafe shitstorm, i started to spend less and less time with the community. … Nowadays supporting actix project is not fun, and be[ing] part of rust community is not fun as well. I am done with open source.”

I’ll bet there’s some precious context here we’re missing, as with all these public burnouts. Kim might have not have been as forthcoming with fixes, or been as receptive to feedback as he could have been. He may be dealing with personal issues, or feedback he received in private pales in comparison to public, on the record comments. But this is all irrelevent if Kim felt threatened. It has nothing to do with his metaphorical skin thickness, or the responsibility people see him having. This should be intuitively obvious to more than just caring or empathetic people, yet here we are.

I’m unsure why poor treatment in free and open source software is getting more attention than it used to. The Internet had trolls before the WWW. Perhaps the sheer volume is larger now, or victims see Linus Torvalds apologise and feel emboldened to speak about it. I’m hoping more of the latter.

The thing that floors me is even blinkered narcissists should recognise that being a dick is not conducive to growing free and open source communities. I avoided speaking and blogging about BSD and Perl for years after being constantly harangued for my poor life choices. Maybe it was projection, or they were used to the crap they used to have to deal with and consider it an awkward form of hazing?

How many (admittedly far more talented) people have either stopped contributing, or have seen how others are treated and decided to steer clear? If the answer to either of those is greater than zero, we’ve lost.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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