Choosing friends carefully

3 02 2011

In Ceki Gülcü points out the problems of a meritocracy that is worth reading. What he skips over is the causes of the situation he describes. In any open-source project that is not a benevolent dictatorship or really a marketing front for a commercial product, inviting someone to become a committer, and giving them a vote is not that distant from telling them you social security number, credit card details, giving them a key to your front door and telling them when you will be out. Unfortunately with ever increasing competition, squeezed margins and companies less and less willing to give their employees time for free with no strings attached its now harder than ever to create sustainable communities. So what do we do ? We have no choice but to lower the barriers to entry, and that perhaps is in the nature of the members of most Apache PMC’s. The members are naturally optimistic people who think the best of their fellow human being and have no cause to be cynical about a anyones intentions. 6 months being a “nice bloke” on list is minimal investment for anyone hell bent on destroying an opensource community. I am quite surprised no corporate is hiring developers for just that purpose. As Ceki Gülcü points out, its not even email abuse and personal attacks that kills a community, but long email post that everyone has to read to understand, and endless trivial arguments over pointless issues. A sentence written once and read once consumes no time, but on list, every sentence written is read a thousand times. Thats not an observation of any project today, but something to be guarded against. Keep the standards up and meritocracy will survive, drop them and the project dies a slow death.



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