OpenRespect My Criticism?

Posted in Free and Open Source Software, Ubuntu on November 15th, 2010 by doctormo

I was reading last week the new OpenRespect website by Jono Bacon, where he is attempting to create a set of standard communication self applying rules to how we all can criticise respectfully each other’s opinions.

Today I read an interesting blog post about Did UbuntuJono disrespect fedora. The interesting part is not the article which is based on an error of timing and judgement, but instead the comments which seem to fall into three categories:

  • Destructive – Anything to do with Ubuntu or Canonical is obviously Hitler related.
  • Counteractive – Anything Ubuntu related is obviously Ghandi related.
  • Jef Spaleta – The only person who can be critical and still talk sense it seems.

When you have a vested interest in getting dissenting views silenced..and want to accomplish that as respectfully as possible…the information at is a wonderfully excellent resource…written by someone who needs to do that day in and day out as a “community manager” working for a corporate entity who doesn’t really want people rocking the boat with regard to questioning corporate policy. – Jef read whole comment here

Canonical does seem to have a strong position on not rocking the boat, but we can do a little experiment to see what will happen when I make a list of my current disagreements and how I think the community can resolve them by rocking the boat:

Underinvestment in Plumbing – It’s true that very few companies are investing in the Free Desktop plumbing. Well a little, but it’s not a lot considering how much is being invested elsewhere. There isn’t a lot the community can do, Canonical and Mark are free to invest in whatever they like. But being critical of Canonical’s investment in plumbing and upstream plumbing especially is appropriate since a lot of technical user problems in Ubuntu are directly traceable to this underinvestment.

Weak Technical Board – Mark is the man and where once he was a Benevolent Dictator for Life, the person who could come in and break tied or tired argument; not any more. the position in a number of communities has morphed into plain dictatorship. And that perhaps is because of the weakness of the technical board and the fact that there is no resolution board for user experience and design. What we end up with is a whole bunch of employees who can’t tell Mark he’s wrong and a community who is denied the opportunity. End result is contributor dissatisfaction and a melting meritocracy. My advice is to question vigorously everything that seems to be pre-made decisions and champion community everywhere, refuse to engage in activities such as testing when decisions are dictated.

Antisocial Contributors Agreement – This really does boil down to a cultural problem, Canonical as an Upstream (ayatana etc) do not believe hand on heart in Free and Open Source. Because if they did, there would be no issue with accepting patches from anyone. This is a really big issue that sticks in the craw of many Open Source advocates. My best advice is that upstream should consider all Ayatana projects objectively and fork all code that seems attractive, create new repositories and encourage downstream contributors to contribute to the fork instead. I see no difference between what Sun/Oracle are doing with and the Ayatana projects at Canonical, and I see no other remedy at this time.

So, the question is, does my boat rocking constitute disrespect at all? Do I have my facts wrong or is my view out of step? Your comments are welcome:

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