I'm seeing people hating on the #FOSS community, implying that it's exclusionary & lacking diversity. That it's only serves developers. I think that's quite ungrateful. #FOSS explicitly removes the artificial barriers between developers & users structurally present in any other form of software dev. #FOSS devs can't put knowledge & expertise in the heads of users. But, by using the GPL, they can create possibility for all. Permissionless participation. Inspiring people to want to learn. 1/2

@lightweight Generally when I see comments like these being made, I view them as impressions gained from a vocal subcommunity rather than representative of FOSS as a whole.

And yes there are subcommunities which are toxic, or don't put enough effort into usability or (all too often) accessability. And the major, corporate projects do tend to focus on (web) developers. But again that's not all of us!

@alcinnz as I see it, Adrian, no #FOSS developer has an obligation to do *anything*. For example, they can choose to make their code accessible, and they're legitimately heroic for doing so. But they're under *no* obligation to do anything. By making their code FOSS, they empower those for whom accessibility is the crucial priority to similarly contribute to *their* community of interest. All FOSS is a function of enlightened self-interest & has (or should be expected to have) all-the-skills.

@alcinnz the idea that #FOSS developers *owe* anyone anything (which is what I see time an again in these complaints against #FOSS in general) is a mark of the very privilege that those complaining are (ironically) claiming FOSS developers are abusing. FOSS developers are writing software for themselves but making it available for anyone else should anyone else choose to use it as is, or make it more suitable to them based on *their priorities*. That _possibility_ is the point of #FOSS.

@alcinnz if some #FOSS denigrator thinks that some app isn't 'user friendly' enough (whatever that means?!)... that's *their opinion*. They are literally the only one who would know how to make it 'user friendly' in a way that conforms with their expectation. So, with FOSS, they can do that, no barriers in their way (as long as they're not a hypocrite and are willing to learn new things, as they are expecting FOSS devs to do). With proprietary software, they're shit-out-of-luck.

@alcinnz anyone who's complaining about what they call elitism in #FOSS or poor quality UX, or other things - without being willing to learn how to address those issues themselves and accepting their own obligation to do so - should be shifting their focus to railing against the proprietary world where they not only don't have any opportunity to fix the problems they see... they have to pay for the 'privilege' of using the often rubbish software the proprietary devs expect people to use.

@lightweight @alcinnz Couple of thoughts.

It’s a huge paradigm shift to become aware that there are avenues to bring about change in software other than voicing complaint. This is all most people have ever known. So I think very often it’s just habit rather than deliberately trying to treat maintainers poorly.

Another factor is that each project is a different mini community that has a different mini culture. They all have in common that they share what they make, which is wonderful.

@lightweight @alcinnz That said, it’s still a reality that among those cultures some are very warm and welcoming, and some less so.

That certainly doesn’t erase the generosity of their contributions, by any means.

But it remains a fact that the reception different people receive when setting out to contribute to different projects can vary dramatically. And it’s okay, and I’m some cases healthy for the FOSS movement, to talk about that.

@lightweight @alcinnz Lastly, a practical example, for anyone reading that may be interested, of contributing to UX without being a programmer:

The maintainers at Inkscape are very warm and welcoming people. I see @doctormo out on socials daily helping people off his own back and encouraging others to get involved in the project.

And they have an open invitation to people to give feedback and suggestions on UX via their team_ux chat:


@freedcreative @alcinnz @doctormo very cool to see that, unlike many open communities, the Inkscape folks (it's software I've used since its early releases and love) have adopted community comms tools that support their open ideas, too! (I'm a big fan of Rocket.Chat even though I'm less enamoured of their recent move to a communit vs. enterprise software split - I run 6-7 instances myself for open communities).

@freedcreative @alcinnz @doctormo *open *ideals* not just ideas :) My typo. It's great when open communities don't require their participants to sacrifice their privacy and data sovereignty in order to participate.


@lightweight @freedcreative @alcinnz

My response, although sorry about the YT, please watch with newpipe if needed: youtu.be/pk--pP2a_Jw

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@doctormo @freedcreative @alcinnz wow, thanks for taking the time to do that, Martin (as an expat yank in a foreign land where my accent is instantly noticeable, I can relate). I agree with you about just about everything you say. I think the main distinction I'd want to draw is the difference between external and intrinsic obligations. 1/2

@doctormo @freedcreative @alcinnz I think the best projects are led by people who have an intrinsic sense of duty to make their projects welcoming & encourage participation without demanding it. But that's intrinsic. I don't think that people outside the project can fairly claim that project leaders, especially as volunteers, *have an (external) obligation* to do those things. Because, as you say, it's unfair to require leaders of self-organising #FOSS projects have the requisite skills. 2/2

@doctormo @freedcreative @alcinnz does that distinction make sense? I think the problem is that external parties (many of whom, I daresay, are not involved in #FOSS at all & are coming from the proprietary software world) apply the sense of righteous indignation to FOSS projects that they normally reserve for things they're paying for but feel they're not getting good value. When you're paying for something, those you're paying can be seen to have a greater external obligation to you.

@lightweight @doctormo @freedcreative @alcinnz IMHO, like many things, it all come down to your governance model and making sure it suits the work being done. I see FLOSS as first a tactic and secondly a culture. Organisations and individuals choose a model under which to do their development. Fo sake of this argument we will limit these choice to FLOSS or Proprietary. Neither of which dictate a governance model. Establishing good governance for FLOSS is this mission of organisations like OSGeo

@lightweight @doctormo @freedcreative @alcinnz There is a bad habit and tendency to think that because it is digital and out there that things like governance, data management and documentation is no longer important - the cumputer can do that, right? Well, no. You still have governance to think about even in the simplest FLOSS project. Who has commit rights and whodecides what gets included are governance decisions. Making sure your governance structure fits your FLOSS project is helpful

@ByronCinNZ @doctormo @freedcreative @alcinnz yes - a good #FOSS leader recognises the importance of setting expectations clearly. The thing is - just like we can't assume that every user will become a developer - we can't expect everyone starting a #FOSS project to get these things (at least not immediately).

@lightweight @doctormo @freedcreative @alcinnz The governance model should instruct users and contributors how to interact with a project, state how decisions are made, etc. It helps if the project documentation is clear about the major supporters and users of the project. Just like proprietraty projects, potential users and contributors need information about the embedded risks and benefits of using and contributing to a project. The project owner decides how much responbility they want to take

@lightweight @doctormo @freedcreative @alcinnz TL;DR Establish the level of responsibilty in your FLOSS governance model. Then grow a thicker skin to protect against those who don't like it

@ByronCinNZ @doctormo @freedcreative @alcinnz Indeed. It's about makes sure the broader populace of computer users recognises that it's similar to the road rules. Road users are *legally obliged* for adhere to the letter of the law. They can, however, also choose to be kind and polite (e.g. letting people into a queue of traffic even where they don't have to) or giving a cyclist extra clearance when overtaking, or stopping to let a parent with a pushchair go... 1/2

@ByronCinNZ @doctormo @freedcreative @alcinnz ... because doing so is 'paying it forward' and makes the world a kinder and more welcoming place. But we have to avoid confusing intrinsic kindness with external obligation. That's key to setting valid expectations and avoiding ungracious behaviour and even exploitation by external parties (which I see in #FOSS quite a bit). 2/2

@lightweight @ByronCinNZ @freedcreative @alcinnz

Kindnesses like this are social contracts. They describe a set of behaviours which if you subscribe to the culture, the people participating have a membership-advantage. A sort of prisoner's dilemma busting, that we all do day to day.

So the question becomes: do we do enough to explain the social contract with free software? Do we know enough of the best behaviours to be able to even describe it yet?

@doctormo @ByronCinNZ @freedcreative @alcinnz good questions. I think the key in a diverse world in which we live is to try to establish a culture of explicit graciousness: taking nothing for granted, and actively querying the group whether or not our expectations are reasonable to assess whether or not they are :). It's all about leading by example: being emphatic in laying out our assumptions for others to validate or not. Can't see any other way to do it, actually.

@lightweight @doctormo @ByronCinNZ @alcinnz There has been some good conversation on the fedi recently about adopting the word “cooperative” more often when explaining libre projects, and I really like that concept.

“Free” requires extra steps of explaining that we mean freedom but really do still need funding.

“Open source” requires extra steps of explaining what source is and why it matters to someone who will never get hands on with source.

“Libre” also requires extra definition for many.

@lightweight @doctormo @ByronCinNZ @alcinnz “Cooperative” is a word everyone understands out of the gate, and in my eyes it’s the cooperation that’s most directly at the heart of libre projects, and it’s this cooperation that enables the resulting freedoms in the first place.

Projects need contributions in more areas than solely source code, so it makes sense to broaden the focus in terminology as well.

And it’s structures of cooperation that harden against competitive paradigms.

@lightweight @doctormo @ByronCinNZ @alcinnz “Cooperatively made software”, "Cooperative community project”, “Cooperative tech”. I understand these phrases more with fewer steps of explanation.

And this makes more sense in other contexts, like hardware which technically doesn’t have “source”.

Additionally, it inherently differentiates against big business open source projects that are not cooperatively managed and created. Because what’s pivotal is the cooperation, not the license or source.

@lightweight @doctormo @ByronCinNZ @alcinnz And finally, the terms “cooperatively” and “cooperative“ have a degree of invitation built right in.

If I hear “open source”, even if I understand it, I’m likely to think I can’t contribute if I don’t know how to make “source” and am not inclined towards development.

If I hear “cooperative community project” I might be more likely to think, oh okay, I have things I can offer. How can I join this community and participate in this cooperation?

@doctormo I know a good cooperatively made vector editing app for that.

@lightweight @freedcreative @alcinnz

The problem of bad expectations is keenly felt. I think this might relate to just how product and corporate loyalty is woven in the fabric of consumer culture.

Loyalty isn't a project contribution like it is in "consumer" culture. Threats to "take your business elsewhere" aren't effective. Install Inkscape, or don't, use it with affinity designer, why should I care if you're polywareous.

Actual contribution is more material and practical than this.

@doctormo @lightweight @alcinnz This is exactly the philosophy that has me convinced of Inkscape‘s bright future.

I’ve seen the excellent leaps forward recently. The software has improved considerably even in just the few years I’ve been using it.

On that trajectory, if each of us who is able contributes what we can, Inkscape will consistently remove roadblocks to adoption and facilitate so many people in finding greater freedom in their creative work.

@freedcreative @doctormo @lightweight I'm tempted to say: I've used Inkscape! I drew Odysseus's icon in it! It's a nice tool!

And I'll guess it was used by @Fatih20@github.com for the redesign.

@freedcreative @doctormo @lightweight @alcinnz I just wanted to drop in and say I really enjoyed reading this thread and appreciate seeing this interesting discussion happening, totally respectfully and thoughtfully. Cheers to all. :)

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