FOSS is community first

If you want to hear this post, you can listen to it on my racket

On the weekend there was a discussion about people in FOSS on twitter. It started that people my age, nearly 40, who have been in Open Source for a long time have failed the younger generation of FOSS supporters.

If you’re unaware of what FOSS stands for, it means Free and Open Source Software.

So… why have my generation failed the newer members of FOSS world? Well, it’s pretty simple. We didn’t maintain enough of the core philosophy of community.

When FOSS was gathering steam we saw groups like theFree Software Foundation build out licenses to protect the code. Unfortunately a lot of these projects never prioritised community. They became incredibly toxic places and when people wanted to introduce a Code of Conduct it was met with more toxicity.

But philosophy, especially the idea of FOSS, can not live in a vacuum. It requires the torch to be passed to newer members. If you don’t have that then you’ve never really lived in the FOSS world, you’ve been promoting the idea of public source.

I also think there is a lot of “bastardisation” of Open Source by companies claiming to care about open source. They form Open Source Program Offices and run it purely for the compliance side but not for the community or the key part of Open Source. The code. I will write about how this can be solved in a future blog post as this is a lengthy subject in itself.

So, if you are working on FOSS, remember the reason why it came to be. It was about the altruistic belief that we should be giving code to the community to benefit the community, not to benefit us.