OpenRespect: It's About Time

No matter who starts it or why, OpenRespect is an idea long needed

I promised myself I wasn't going to get into this one, because frankly there have been a lot of opinions on this topic, but I want to add my own thoughts about OpenRespect.org:

It's about time.

I have read the arguments about how self-serving Jono Bacon's recent efforts are to get some modicum of civility into the open source community, heard the hollering from Fedora folks saying "we didn't get asked to be a part of this," and read the very well-reasoned argument from Aaron Seigo about how this particular goal of Bacon's may not be applicable between communities.

Despite these reactions, which have ranged from thoughtful to knee-jerk, I have to say that Bacon is trying to start something that, after some honest discussion, may be words the community can actually live by.

I will admit that, despite Bacon's arguments to the contrary, OpenRespect is coming across as a defensive move on behalf of Bacon's employer, Canonical. Canonical has been the target for a lot of frustration from the broader community lately, some of it perhaps deserved, and some perhaps not, so it's a reasonable assumption that the Ubuntu Community Manager might want to deflect.

For the record, I will take Bacon at his word that OpenRespect was not born out of a response to the current burn-Canonical-in-effigy fest that's going on these days.

But let's suppose that isn't the case: that OpenRespect is really a "leave us alone!" campaign on behalf of Ubuntu/Canonical. What would my response be then?

It's about time.

If OpenRespect is indeed one big deflection away from Canonical, so what? If it's a defensive move, so what? It doesn't change the fact that an idea like this is needed--no matter who tries to start it.

The reason for my (admittedly) very stark position is that nearly every existing free and open source project in existence today has borne the brunt of vicious personal and professional attacks by people in the community who should know better. And if they haven't been attacked yet, just give it time.

If this is just Canonical standing up and saying "stop," then so be it. Because it could have just have easily been the Linux kernel developers. Red Hat. Novell. Apache. OpenOffice.org. GNOME. KDE. openSUSE. Fedora. Debian. X. FreeDesktop.org. The Linux Foundation. The GNOME Foundation. KDE e.V...

Shall I go on?

At some point, all of these groups have been the target of vitriol from the community. And that's not counting the individuals within these communities who have been targets, based on something they said or did.

So, if it wasn't Canonical or Ubuntu, it could have just as easily been someone else saying "enough."

Again, I will publicly state that I believe Bacon is acting on this based on his own conscience. But either way, it doesn't change that fact that even though communities will have disparate goals and different cultures, more civility and reasoned discussion wouldn't kill anybody.

Clearly, more discussion is needed to mold OpenRespect into an idea/group/whatever that we can all use.

Such discourse, I believe, is the whole point of OpenRespect.

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