Why some people don't do Open Source

This post has much to do with the one made by Erika Heidi: The Art of Programming.

She states:

Respect the work of others, even if you think there is something with a similar purpose already out there. It's their expression. They are not trying to reinvent the wheel. They are trying to create a better wheel, or a wheel that works better for their purposes.

And I agree with her. For instance, I worked in a company where people weren't much of a fan of PSR-2 or any kind of code styling. Did I agree with that? NOPE, in the end I was able to convince them to standardize some stuff. But they were working perfectly before I even enter the team, and as a teammate I tried to contribute, it was hard to convince them why git was better than svn for our scenario and stuff like that.

But imagine the following, you have an idea, that you think it's awesome, and you think it can help someone else. It will be a pain in the ass to develop the idea, make it work, but you put yourself through that anyway. And let's imagine you did it. Awesome, right? Let's publish it!

And all of the sudden there are 23 PR's of people helping you to improve your code, adding more features, which is awesome! However, theres always those 5% of people who are only there to criticize what you did and diminish your job.

And that kind of criticism isn't helpful at all. I've learned that if you don't have something useful to add, just keep your mouth shut. Because 5% of those horrible people out there, the code-trolls as I use to call them, push away a lot of amazing coders that could be contributing to open source, but choose no to, fearing those reactions.They just go to work, do a side project here and there and go on with their lives. They may even follow you on Twitter.

They probably have done awesome code to their companies, but they can't share because is private, and that is ok, because not everyone is obligated to have a Github account or participate in the community. (I won't enter in the discussion that a Github account should be a person CV).

But because of the code-trolls people are afraid to participate, and become a target. I have been witness to that, and I can state you need to have thick skin to deal with the fire squad. I am not saying that sensible people can't participate. I think we are handling people in the wrong way. People make mistakes and making a big deal of if it only makes the person never want to do Open Source again.

Some may say that Open Source is a great school, which you can learn a lot. I believe that, but only if people are open to accept others into their groups, because I saw some projects around, and they are like The Clubhouse fellers, not because of sexism, but because they will only let in those who are either friends with the project creators or "famous" developers in the open source community. So in other words, the code is open, the community isn't.

To summarize: being a code-troll drive people away and making an Open Source project "V.I.P." doesn't help the community, only helps people's ego. And to me, this is a cause worth fighting for: Let's be the host, not the bouncer, because it takes a lot of courage to make yourself open like that.

I encourage you to read the Contributor Covenant, it is code of conduct for open source projects, but reading isn't enough, we must remind each other to follow it.


 

Software Developer with a passion for Databases, sometimes speaker, LEGO lover and a dog person.

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