[OpenAFS] Funding the formation of an OpenAFS Foundation

Russ Allbery rra@stanford.edu
Thu, 27 Sep 2012 22:49:30 -0700

Troy Benjegerdes <hozer@hozed.org> writes:

> So here's a general question for the list: Would you rather see OpenAFS
> end with a bang because the community imploded, or with a whimper when
> all the AFS admins that have been carrying the torch retire and the new
> CIO moves everyone to iCloud or google drive?

Given those choices (which represent a false dichotomy, but fine, let's
have this argument anyway), a whimper, because being nasty to other people
is simply not okay, makes the world a worse place all around, and almost
never actually helps.

One of the deep flaws in the open source community at large right now,
seen in all sorts of different projects, is that it has rather a large
share of technically-competent abrasive assholes who really *like* being
assholes and don't want to change, and who have therefore invented a
marvellous little story that they tell themselves about how their behavior
is actually courageous truthtelling, brutal honesty, a refusal to "settle
for the status quo," or otherwise part of why they're able to accomplish
so much good work.  It's all bullshit.  They're just technically-competent
people who also happen to be assholes.

The actual reason why so much open source work is done by such people is
not because they're better at it.  It's because they drive off everyone
who doesn't "have thick skin" or "enjoys robust exchanges of views" or
whatever today's euphemism is for tolerating abusive behavior, and then
use the fact that all surviving project members interact like they do as
proof that their social behavior is acceptable.  It's a self-selecting,
self-perpetuating ecosystem that I'm increasingly uninterested in

It's also not actually productive.  There are more technically-competent
people in the world who like supportive, cooperative projects with
functional, adult social expectations than people who thrive on abrasive
conflict.  If one stops tolerating abusive people, one often finds all
sorts of people contributing who otherwise would take one look at the
prevailing tone and just quietly walk away.  Everyone is abrasive
sometimes, but most people *try* not to be and apologize when they slip,
and those are the kind of people I want to work with.  It's also the kind
of person that I want to be, and one starts to emulate the people one
interacts with, for good or for ill.  There are lots of places I could
spend my time productively; the nature of the community is a primary
selection criteria.  (I could also go off on an extended discussion of how
this particular pattern is deeply entangled with the gender bias in open
source, but I'll spare you.)

Besides, whether one attracts more developers that way or not, it's simply
the right thing to do, at a level that's considerably more important than
whether AFS survives as a technology or not.

Russ Allbery (rra@stanford.edu)             <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>