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The dark side of free software communities

Morgan Gangwere

When you think of free software, what things come to mind? Freedom, obviously, but what others? A shared community? An open culture? Within free software culture, there is a perception and expectation of openness and collaboration within the community: all are welcome to the table, and your contributions speak for you. When you get outside the community by enough, however, the answer changes. Contemptuous, confusing, elitist, and abrasive are words that some outsiders use to describe free software communities. Some go out of their way to avoid the communities we've worked so hard to build. Why?

In this talk, I'll look at some of root causes of these opinions and attitudes, as well as how to solve some them and make our communities more approachable by outsiders by using real-world examples of the good, bad, and the ugly. Building off a decade of community involvement on the fringe of free software, plus an academic focus in organizational and community communications, I'll help us make free software a welcoming place for newcomers, so we can all become strong advocates for free software!

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1 year, 7 months ago

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video · lp2018 · LibrePlanet · LibrePlanet 2018 · LibrePlanet 2018 video

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LibrePlanet 2018 Videos and Slides (libreplanet)

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CC BY 4.0

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This talk was presented at LibrePlanet.

libreplanet.org


LibrePlanet is the Free Software Foundation's annual conference. The FSF campaigns for free/libre software, meaning it respects users' freedom and community. We believe that users are entitled to this; all software should be free.

gnu.org/important


We do not advocate "open source".

That term was coined to reject our views. It refers to similar practices, but usually presented solely as advantageous, without talking of right and wrong.

gnu.org/not-open-source


Richard Stallman launched the free software movement in 1983 by announcing development of the free operating system, GNU. By 1992, GNU was nearly operational; one major essential component was lacking, the kernel.

gnu.org/gnu-begin


In 1992, Torvalds freed the kernel Linux, which filled the last gap in GNU. Since then, the combined GNU/Linux system has run in millions of computers. Nowadays you can buy a new computer with a totally free GNU/Linux system preinstalled.

gnu.org/gnu-and-linux


The views of the speaker may not represent the Free Software Foundation. The Foundation supports the free software cause and freedom to share, and basic freedoms in the digital domain, but has no position on other political issues.