Incivility in Open Source Communities

By Deane Barker on October 6, 2014

Here’s an interesting diatribe on the Linux development community.

Much of the Open Source community tries to advertise the community as one happy place to the outside. Where contributions are valued only by their technical quality, and everybody meets at conferences for beers.

Well, it is not like that. It’s quite a sick place to be in.

One of the examples given is of Linus Torvalds himself, who apparently says things like this:

[specific folks] …should be retroactively aborted. Who the f*ck does idiotic things like that? How did they not die as babies, considering that they were likely too stupid to find a tit to suck on?

Yes, this actually happened in a discussion back in 2012.

I think part of the problem is that open-source brings the idea of ownership with it. With commercial software, it “belongs” to someone else. If they want to mess with it, that’s their right. But in open-source, it’s just as much “my” software as anyone else’s, and if you do something bad to it, that’s an indirect attack on me.

Certainly the advantages of open-source outweigh the disadvantages, but let’s not pretend emotions don’t run high at times and that people exist who can can’t control them.