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Re: Re: Valuing non-code contributions -- was Re: systemd - so much energy wasted in quarreling

On Tue, 11 Nov 2014,Don Armstrong <don@debian.org  <mailto:don%40debian.org>> wrote:

On Tue, 11 Nov 2014, Erwan David wrote:
> Le 11/11/2014 18:59, Don Armstrong a écrit :
> > When I (or someone else) asks people to "show us the code", it's
> > really just shorthand for "someone needs to do this work, and it
> > currently isn't important enough for me to do it."
> Asking to provide a patch to an utterly complex code is just
> [complete] [nonsense] and [hypocrisy]: one cannot patch any complex
> software without working on it for long hours.

While it might take less time for someone intimately familiar with a
piece of code to provide a patch, it still may take a lot of time for
them to provide the patch. The actual cost may be even higher even
though it takes less time, because writing a patch means that they're
not working on something else.

It's the reality of Free Software that people work on things that they
want to work on. If something is important to you, but not important
enough for you to do it, then your next best alternative is to figure
out how you can best encourage someone else to do it for you. Calling
people hypocrites isn't a very effective way to do that.
> And when the probleme is te basic design of the software a patch is
> not conceivable.

Then the solution is to become involved in the software design process.

Not for nothing, but at least in some settings, requirements review, design review and alpha testing are considered vital contributions to the software design process. Not as much here, as far as I can tell (the attitude seems to be much more, "I'm going to do it my way, if you don't like it go somewhere else").

On a broader note, Debian, Linux, *nix in general, and FOSS software are a complex and highly-interdependent ecosystem. Yes some people just take, but an awful lot of us contribute in various ways, in various places, to the overall ecosystem - be it writing upstream code, libraries, documentation, providing training, doing policy work (can you say EFF), crafting open-source licenses, providing support in various forms. The gnu tools, glibc, the kernel - without those, there would be no Debian or other distributions. Arguably, without the GPL, there wouldn't be a lot of FOSS software. EFF goes out and fights legal battles to protect the ecosystem. An awful lot of code depends on Apache, MySQL, SQL Lite, and so forth. And it goes on. The pieces are highly interdependent, and in many cases, a contribution to one project, or activity, benefits many others.

In this context, and IMHO, the view of "if you're not contributing to a specific piece of code then you have no right to comment on it;" or "if you don't like it, go elsewhere" is an awfully narrow minded and counter-productive approach to things.

Miles Fidelman

Miles Fidelman

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