Forum Thread: Do you really have to work with jerks in open source?

Do you really have to work with jerks in open source?

I came across this blog post, and thought it interesting on the topic of working with people in open source. Valerie Aurora writes:

The more I look at the arguments for why assholes are necessary to good code, the more I have to wonder if some form of Stockholm syndrome is at work. As open source developers, our careers are to some degree hostage to project leaders. If project XYZ has an abusive leader, you either have to keep working on that project with that leader, or make a significant and risky career change. Change the leader or their behavior? Not really an option. There's no manager or HR department to go to to deal with abusive fellow "employees" in open source, and it's hard to move to a project far enough away not to work with that person but still be in your area of expertise. It's a tough choice.

What do you think of Valerie's post? When you're working on open source projects, are you working with jerks or generally nice people? Which is more effective?

3 Responses

I've tried working on some open source projects, but haven't really made any successes yet. What I can tell, is that some projects are difficult to get into because you have to do everything the way the moderators tell you to, and you really have to prove yourself before your work will be accepted. On other projects you might be criticised on the structure of your code etc..

I think this is mainly because many programmers pride themselves on being "geeks" and constantly want to prove that he/she is better than the next programmer. It's like a cold war going on.

I'm really sorry to hear about your experiences, Renato. I really hate that mentality that just because someone is smart or knowledgeable, it entitles them to be a jerk to newcomers. I find that going overboard with competitiveness can lead to smart people doing stupid things.

What sorts of projects did you try to work on? Which ones do you want to get into? I can ask my husband (who works on OCSF 2) for some suggestions and advice.

Oh, that was a while back, I've gotten a bit rusty in the meantime. But any tips will definitely be appreciated. I'm trying to get into the coding thing again and would like to check out the Linux kernel. I've also came across some great open source games (strategy type).

What would be the best for newcomers to start with? My educational background is computer engineering, everything from microcontrollers, assembler, operating system internals etc. I'm employed in the communication systems industry doing minimal programming, but would like to go back to my "roots" and maybe work on microcontroller assemblers, simulators, operating system kernels or whatever is within reach.

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