Assholes and Free as in Beer Software Development
  Posted October 12, 2002    PermaLink    Comments (0)  
Apparently Mr Stevens is now so famous he has his own "Excuse for being an asshole" page. Amusing! [rebelutionary]

Well, I need to put my two cents in as a former Jakarta committer. Jon's demeanor on the mail lists is at times as a total asshole, but I would have to say as an equal opportunity asshole (give him an opportunity and he'll be an asshole). The fan club page makes a persuasive argument that Jon will be Jon and what you should do rather than complain about Jon is to contribute to the project (and state that he's probably a nice guy in person).

But therein lies the problem, there is somehow the implication that if there is a problem with Jon, it's your problem. And you should just get over it and contribute to Jakarta. And it implies that this is only a small barrier to entry in the Jakarta project (which is your duty to join anyway). But it is not just an outside facing problem.

As you noticed I identified myself as a former committer, even thought if you look on the Who we are site I am listed as a committer, and even though I haven't done squat for nearly 2 years. Apparently the membership clause which reads "A Committer that has been inactive for 6 months or more may lose their status as a Committer" interprets the word MAY in accordance with RFC standards which means "basically never." That and my e-mail is about a year out of date too. But I digress. Why am I a former committer? To say it is because of Jon's behavior would be unfair and inaccurate. Blame it on the real job, the serious girlfriend, and the ensuing marriage. I just didn't have enough time to contribute to Jakarta for free (as in beer), I would much rather spend my free (as in liberty) time enjoying it. Those things alone would keep me out, but throw in Jon and people like him (he's not the only one, just the most famous) and it goes from a "probably not" to a "hell no". Andrew Oliver also reflects some of my feelings on the politics that keep me away (the 6 Sep entry to be specific).

I'm not bagging on Jon just to bag on Jon however. Where I want to go with this is an inherent problem with free (as in beer) software development. It's amazing how much thicker your shell gets when it is padded with a few pay stubs. Is Jon the biggest asshole I've ever seen? Not by a long shot. I've even worked with bigger assholes than Jon, willingly and happily. All the resentment that comes with working with an asshole goes away when the rent check clears. I probably would get along just fine with Jon if I worked with him in a paying job. Sure, we would have our moments, just like everyone at my work tends to have with each other at one time or another. Would I deal with the crap that goes with being an active participant on an Open Source project for free? Not unless my life dramatically changes. Would I do it for money? I already do on a daily basis (for a proprietary project that is).

But for the fan club page to trivialize the problem as not a poblem is IMHO the wrong solution and sullies the good name of the... umm... oh nevermind.

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