Violent behaviors only cause distance

One of the things I have problem with in free software communities is that a lot of older or more experienced folks have a really violent behavior in confronting with criticism of their ways. I see a lot of experienced people in free software communities, specially GNU and FSF mailing lists, that support the movement and have some logical reasons for their actions but the way they express them only makes people keep their distance from free software and our communities.

One of the reasons that proprietary software dominates the world is that many of these companies have a really nice way of treating people. Many users forget their digital freedoms and rights because they see (at least ostensibly) that they are treated with respect.

In the last few days I’ve seen at least three unnecessary insults and violent behavior in FSF and GNU communities. I and some other people mentioned that such behavior only makes people keep their distance from us.

Some people forget that our self-assigned mission and goal is to bring knowledge about users’ freedom and rights to people and not all people are technical experts or are experienced about computers. If we’re going to criticize people who have less experience or knowledge about computers, then all we did till now is worthless.

If free software is only for software developers then we should rephrase it to something that shows this false goal. Free software is not only for programmers. It’s for everybody. Free software is to bring users their freedom. We should repeat it frequently to remind it to advocates.

You don’t need to understand code or every matter in computers to support free software. If you care for software freedom and digital rights, you have every right to talk, express opinions, act, and be active in free software communities and nobody can stop you.

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Ali Reza Hayati

Entrepreneur, hacker, cypherpunk.