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.
I don't usually talk about this too much, and hence I figure that people are really not aware of this, but yes, the Open Source community is full of assholes, and I probably more than most others am one of their most favourite targets. I get hate mail for hacking on Open Source. People have started multiple "petitions" on petition web sites, asking me to stop working (google for it). Recently, people started collecting Bitcoins to hire a hitman for me (this really happened!). Just the other day, some idiot posted a "song" on youtube, a creepy work, filled with expletives about me and suggestions of violence. People post websites about boycotting my projects, containing pretty personal attacks. On IRC, people /msg me sometimes, with nasty messages, and references to artwork in 4chan style. And there's more. A lot more.
I am used to rough discussions on mailing lists, and yes, when I was younger I did not always stay technical in flamewars, but nowadays I am pretty good at that, I am sometimes articulate, but never personal. I have a thick skin (and so do most of the others involved in systemd, apparently), and I figure that plays a major role why we managed to bring systemd to success, despite all the pressure in the opposite direction. But from time to time, I just have to stand back and say "Wow, what an awful community Linux has!".
The Internet is full of deranged people, no doubt, so one might just discount all of this on the grounds that the Open Source community isn't any different than any other community on the Internet or even offline. But I don't think so. I am pretty sure there are certain things that foster bad behaviour. On one hand there are certain communities where it appears to be a lot more accepted to vent hate, communities that attract a certain kind of people (Hey, Gentoo!) more than others do. (Yes, the folks who post the stuff they do usually pretty clearly state from wich community they come).
But more importantly, I'd actually put some blame on a certain circle of folks that play a major role in kernel development, and first and foremost Linus Torvalds himself. By many he is a considered a role model, but he is quite a bad one. If he posts words like "[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?" (google for it), than that's certainly bad. But what I find particularly appalling is the fact that he regularly defends this, and advertises this as an efficient way to run a community. (But it is not just Linus, it's a certain group of people around him who use the exact same style, some of which semi-publically even phantasize about the best ways to, ... well, kill me).
But no, it's not an efficient way to run a community. If Linux had success, then that certainly happened despite, not because of this behaviour. I am pretty sure the damage being done by this is quite obvious, it not only sours the tone in the Linux community, it is also teaches new contributors to adopt the same style, but that only if it doesn't scare them away in the first place.
In other words: A fish rots from the head down.
I don't mind using strong language, I don't mind the use of words such as "fuck", I use the word all the time too, it's really not about that. I must simply say that I wished it would stay at that, because what actually is happening is so much worse, and and so much more hateful.
If you are a newcomer to Linux, either grow a really thick skin. Or run away, it's not a friendly place to be in. It is sad that it is that way, but it certainly is.
The Linux community is dominated by western, white, straight, males in their 30s and 40s these days. I perfectly fit in that pattern, and the rubbish they pour over me is awful. I can only imagine that it is much worse for members of minorities, or people from different cultural backgrounds, in particular ones where losing face is a major issue.
You know, I can deal with all this shit, and I guess in a way with the energy we are pushing the changes we propose with we are calling for opposition, so this post is really not intended to be a call for sympathy. The main point I want to make with this is to correct a few things about our communities, and how their are percieved. Open Source isn't a kindergarten. Open Source is awful in many ways, and people should be aware of this.
Not everybody in the Linux community is like this, the vast majority isn't. Not even all our different communities really have a problem with this at all. But many do, and the most prominent one, the Linux community as a whole certainly has.
I am not the one to fix any of this, I cannot tell you how one could do it. And quite frankly, I really don't want to be involved in fixing this. I am a technical guy, I want to do technical things.
My personal conclusion out of all this is mostly just that I don't want to have much to do with the worst offenders, and the communities they run. My involvement with the kernel community ended pretty much before it even started, I never post on LKML, and haven't done in years. Also, in our own project we are policying posts. We regularly put a few folks on moderation on the mailing list, and we will continue to do so. Currently, the systemd community is fantastic, and I really hope we can keep it that way.
And that's all about this topic from me. I have no intentions to ever talk about this again on a public forum.