Coffee Party

November 10, 2013

I was glad to see Mark take leadership today and post an apology for the “tea party” comment. Thought leaders make mistakes and comments they later regret, as have I and plenty of others. While it is always important to hold leaders to account, it is also important to recognise when they have taken steps to address criticism directed towards them. I don’t have too much more to add, but I wholeheartedly agree with the final thoughts on that post, which I’ll leave here.

For the record, technical critique of open source software is part of what makes open source software so good. It is welcome and appreciated very much at Canonical; getting reviews and feedback and suggestions for improvement from smart people who care is part of why we enjoy writing open source software. There isn’t anything in what I said to suggest that I don’t welcome such technical feedback, but some assumed I was rejecting all feedback including technical commentary. […]

I was talking about criticism of software which does not centre on the software itself, but rather on some combination of the motivations of the people who wrote it, or the particular free  software license under which it is published, or the policies of the company, or the nationality of the company behind it. Unless critique is focused on improving the software in question it is pretty much a waste of the time of the people who are trying to improve the software in question. That waste of time is what I had in mind with the comment; nevertheless, it was a thoughtless use of an irrelevant label.

[emphasis mine]

I’ll add a quick thought in here: Much of the hysteria and partisan criticism which is levelled at Ubuntu these days is objectively false and we as a community have a duty to examine the state of public debate to ensure that we are not distracted from what we each individually want to achieve.  This does not excuse the fact that there will always be difficulty in creating a product identity from a culture that is free-form in nature, but we should always recognise that individual actors in the ecosystem have the right to use their resources as they see fit to contribute in a way that may only benefit themselves, so long as those contributions do not pose a real practical harm to other actors within the community.

On another note, I make no apology to the real “Tea Party”.

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Written by Sam Spilsbury an Australian PhD student living in Helsinki.