“Community” mea culpa

It is interesting how many people online purport to speak for the “Community,” almost as many as purport to speak for God. I find myself asking: how do they know? The open source “Community” is by definition diverse. It includes students, consultants, industry employees, volunteers, professionals, shills for IBM, hobbyists, fanatics, cynics, superheros, and the silent online majority who never show up in Google quotients. There is a certain presumptiousness in speaking in the name of The Community. Speak for yourself, not for me, not for the community. I am part of the community. – Marc Fleury

Pretty much every time I utter the word “community” in a sentence, a part of my brain connects to an image of Marc Fleury shaking his head and making a “tsk tsk” noise.  I feel shame.

He’s right.  When stating things we think may not be universally popular, we tend to use plural phrases to represent the decision makers.  It’s a subconscious psychological trick, I suppose, to sidestep personal responsibility.

Sometimes I use the term “ecosystem” instead.  “Ecosystem”, I like to believe, implies a stronger sense of larger organizations, whereas “community” is more about individuals.  Occasionally, I’ll even find my self guilty of using the term “developers”, which, I suppose  implies an even stronger sense of individualism than “community”.

So, “Ecosystem”, “Community” and “Developers” – I’ve been finding myself overusing these terms lately when making less than universally popular decisions, and maybe even influencing others to do the same.  I’m going to endeavor again to be more careful when speaking about community, and doubly so when claiming to represent it.

– Don


About DonaldOJDK

This blog is for both personal and professional topics. Nothing here should be considered official for any past, present or future employer (or my wife and kids)!
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1 Response to “Community” mea culpa

  1. Pingback: Donald Smith: “Community” mea culpa | JDK | Syngu

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