Skip to main content

Contributing to free software requires privilege. Even regular contributors might sometimes find themselves without it.

Time, focus and money. You might find yourself lacking in one of these at various points in your life.

While software projects from startups move like streams, most free software projects move like glaciers. They move slowly but they keep moving for decades.

Being away from a project doesn't mean you have to give it up. You can join back later.

#FreeSoftware #Privilege
It's very unclear to me what you mean and what you are implying with the word privilege in this context.
seems pretty clear to me:

> Time, focus and money. You might find yourself lacking in one of these at various points in your life.

Hard to make this any more clear, in fact.
I mentioned implications and context - which are not spelled out.....
@federico @Rysiekúr Memesson Acknowledging your own privilege just means being grateful that you have been given chances that others might not have been given no matter how hard they worked.

It does not mean denigrating your own hard work or that of others.

It's a point of humility and a self-check to maybe not throw out a knee-jerk "meh, it's free software, patches welcome" the next time a person runs into an issue due to a sharp edge in some free software project. Maybe they have the opportunity to contribute. Maybe they don't. You don't know their life.

Thibault reshared this.

Stating that something is free software and that patches are welcome is a statement of fact. I don't see anything wrong with that.

The flipside of this lecture in privilege is one about entitlement. Nobody (outside of my immediate family) is entitled to my time and energy in order to fulfill their needs, no matter how "privileged" they might think I am.
Just because I'm seeing a lot of public push-back: I agree. Reminds of a quote from this article:

"A surprising amount of OSS is made by former big tech developers. They can afford to subsist on meagre revenue—for a time—because their pay and stock options have left them free of debt and with well-stocked savings accounts."

Dunno why people seem triggered by the word "privilege" TBH. I've got gobs of it myself. Take responsibility for it. It's a form of power.
Dude, OSS is not F. OSS is a business model. Free Software is, among other things, an ideology that states that everybody should have equal access to software and equal opportunities to contribute to it.

That is literally the opposite of a privilege.

Prevailing material conditions mean that not everyone *will* have equal opportunities to contribute. Being able to perform a significant amount of un-or-under-compensated work without suffering economic hardship necessarily comes from having at least some degree of economic privilege. I'm not saying OSS or FOSS propagate inequality.
Again, is contributing to free software un-or-under-compensated work? Yes, in most cases. But so is having a hobby. Do you consider having hobbies to be a privilege?

And nobody’s forced to «perform a significant amount» of work. You can just contribute a patch, a bug report, a translation, an improvement to documentation, etc. Or simply fork an existing project for your own personal purposes or to learn and improve yourself.

Moreover, contributing to (or just using) free software can help one land better paid jobs that will get them more time and better material conditions to contribute more significantly if they so desire.

So, again, I fail to see where the so-called privilege is.

@josemanuel @Joseph Nuthalapati :fbx: @Ryan
> can help one land better paid jobs that will get them more time and better material conditions to contribute more significantly if they so desire
In other words, not just privilege, but privilege with leverage! Having the resources to invest in free software is the digital global analogue of landed gentry.

I grew up at the right time in the right place with the right inclinations to end up in a position where I can find a well-paid job in any country I like, and have hobbies on top of that. Someone else might be working two jobs just to survive. Billions of people work two jobs just to survive.

It doesn't matter how hard I worked to get here. In my eyes, actually not very hard. I'm *super lucky*.

It is my end goal to help allow a few others to be super lucky too, because everyone deserves that.
Fascinating how you left out relevant parts of the original message just to make a point, which, I admit, escapes me among all the excess irony.

@njoseph @ryan
@josemanuel @Joseph Nuthalapati :fbx: @Ryan I don't see the irony at all. Yes, the ability to have hobbies is a privilege, I said that, and of course you are free to volunteer more or less of your time, I agree with that so I didn't counter it.

The ability to choose to volunteer any time at all without colliding with essential parts of your life is your privilege.
Ok. I understand your point now and I disagree.

Do you call people who give their time to any NGO dedicated to help others privileged? Because I’d feel insulted if I was one of them.

“Hi, I donate my free time to work for social justice and to reduce inequality.” “Yeah? Well, check your privilege, asshole.”

@njoseph @ryan
I don't think you understand. Are these people able to help because they're privileged? Yeah, no shit they are. But *having* privilege is no cause for someone to tell you "check your privilege, asshole." *That* response is generally reserved for people who are blind to their privilege and so expect *everyone* to be able to do what they are able to do. Many forms of privilege are not at all under a person's control. E.g., being able-bodied, or being light-skinned.

@clacke @njoseph
Being privileged is nothing to be ashamed of, but it *does* bring with it the responsibility of using that privilege for good. It is simply a form of power, relative to the unprivileged. And it's a good idea to nurture awareness within yourself about your privilege, because it's shit like (for example) telling people how *anyone* can retire young because you (with your daddy's money) were able to do it that'll get you told to check that privilege.

Does that help?

@clacke @njoseph
Free Software takes care of the of the copyright restrictions that prevent people from having access to software and to contribute to it. and it's extremely important.

but Free Software can't solve all of the other societal issues that do prevent other people from contributing, and trying to fix those is also important.

As an example, later on you say “you can just contribute [various types of small fixes]”: that's pretty easy for somebody who has had a lot of free time while young to learn how to move around in the FOSS community, and now has less free time because of family/work/etc.

it's not the same thing for somebody who never had the chance to do so: for them even a small contribution means taking a lot of time learning new tools, new platforms and new community behaviours, and people from less privileged situations tend to have very little free time.
For sure we have a privilege: being able to code.

It's the privilege of scribans in Ancient Egypt and we should work hard to invent an alphabet that free the rest of the world from our power, as we tend to serve the Pharaons of our age.

We continuosly raise complexity, either accidentally or as an explicit entry barrier to "the market" (think of modern browsers) while we should always keep it so low that literally everybody could read and modify the code.

That's what turned #FreeSoftware from a quest for #freedom to an expression of #USA power and #US-privilege.

I recognize such privilege but as @jcbrand noticed, it doesn't give anybody any entitlement on my work.

It just give me the will and energy to look for solutions that turn such privilege into a freedom that everybody can use for real (but not without study: even if you want to drive a car you have to study how to drive, and a computer is much more powerful - and socially dangerous - than a car!)

@njoseph @josemanuel @ryan

This website uses cookies to recognize revisiting and logged in users. You accept the usage of these cookies by continue browsing this website.