So Rich Hickey, (creator of #Clojure), wrote a thing where he argues that as a mere user of open-source, you're not entitled to anything from the maintainers.

I agree with the general principle and have made similar points myself, except that:

a.) If you want the 'fame' of having many users, mutual respect is necessary. You're not god.

b.) If you're not going to implement a feature, don't waste people's time by keeping the issue/discussion going, only to dash their hopes years(!) later.

@MatejLach That seems to be an answer to a twitter thread from an ex-clojure contributor (

Which honestly makes it kind of moot, because it's not about users. You do owe contributors! They made your software better, so maybe just try to make that part easy for them?

And this idea that patches will be rejected after years sounds awful. I mean rejecting patches happens, but the earlier that happens the better!

This makes me really not want to contribute to clojure.

@hirnbrot Agreed! I think that he's wrong somewhat even if you accept his premise of mere "users", but not acknowledging fellow contributors as more than "users", (not that there's anything wrong with being one), stenches of a huge ego.

Moreover, we're talking about a programming language here. A large percentage of these users probably wrote a library or two at some point, thus certainly contributing to the "ecosystem" if not to the language itself. Without an ecosystem, languages are dead.

@MatejLach One additional thing here is that the process seems to just be wasteful.

Apparently the way it works is that there's a middleman, who occasionally gets to speak to the BDFL on high, and so simple discussions just drag on for months instead of minutes.

That just seems like an inefficient use of everyone's time, because of the context switching and long delays, which mean everyone has to get back up to speed.

@hirnbrot Absolutely.

Even if you don't plan on addressing the issue, respecting people's time seems like the minimum you could do.

There's a reason that companies who ignore job applicants for weeks at a time have a bad reputation.

@MatejLach @hirnbrot

Yet, to me, he has a point: you can (and should) fork the software.

@Shamar @MatejLach He never actually says fork.

And forking is not a great solution! If Hickey is as brilliant at design as the comments on HN and elsewhere state he is, then not having him involved is a terrible waste.

If the process is as awful as it sounds, I'm flabbergasted as to why it couldn't possibly be fixed, since it just seems to waste _everyone_s time.

Also I'd like Hickey to see that contributors _matter_, and that responding promptly is important!

@hirnbrot @MatejLach

I agree on the specific issue.
I really think that contributors matter.

But, ultimately, the #FreeSoftware is a #gift.

And the right to #fork is a fundamental part of such gift.

@Shamar @MatejLach Of course it is! Just not something you want to use lightly.

@hirnbrot @MatejLach

Why not?
I really think it should be used lightly! People should fork software even just for fun!

@Shamar @MatejLach You can do anything for fun.

But if you actually need the software, then forking might be the worse option, even for you. If you can't keep up with upstream, then the changes you can't get in there might not be worth it.

It also means more work for e.g. distributors, who need to pick a side, and with dependends.

See e.g. the ffmpeg/libav mess, or Libreoffice vs OpenOffice.

@hirnbrot @MatejLach

The problem is that these forks are exceptions.

They should be the norm.

@Shamar @MatejLach Why?

That still leaves the issue that everyone has to deal with it and pick it and....

In both of those examples forking lost something. It might have been necessary (for LO it most certainly was), but everyone would have been better off if it hadn't.

@hirnbrot @MatejLach

> Why?

For several reasons.

When all people will be #hackers and they will actively #hack their own software, #FreeSoftware will have a huge advantage over closed source software.

And a world of hackers would be funny to live in. 😉

@Shamar @MatejLach

a) That will never happen

b) That does nothing to address the problem of forking. The more forks, the more work is wasted.

@hirnbrot @MatejLach

a) That's what an scribe from Ancient Egypt would say about people being able to read and write. The fact that #Informatics (or #ComputerScience, if you prefer) is so #primitive that it can be used to gain power, doesn't mean that it's will never progress.

b) More forks, more roads explored, more lesson learnt, more curious minds challenging such lessons, more progress for #humanity.

To me, you "waste" each hour you don't spend learning something that you can teach me.

@hirnbrot Interesting, the parallels here with Mastodon development...
@Shamar @MatejLach

@deutrino @Shamar @MatejLach I'm not too up-to-date on mastodon development. I see they have a bunch of unhandled PRs open for a while.

But it doesn't seem like they have some weird man-in-the-middle who needs to talk to the BDFL sometime next week, it appears more like they could simply use more people.

Or is there anything specific you're alluding to?

@hirnbrot The general complete dead air from Gargamel when it comes to responding to people who put a bunch of time and energy into contributing, and otherwise badly constricted communication with would-be contributors. There's no middleman setup like in Clojure, but far lesser barriers have turned people off from contributing to Mastodon, including me.
@Shamar @MatejLach

@hirnbrot I'm not talking about that drama. I'm talking about people doing actual attempts at quality software engineering in tickets and PRs that are often completely ignored. If you want to verify, go read the tickets. ✌🏻
@Shamar @MatejLach


That would be concerning if that's happening. Can you provide some links / starting points?

@hirnbrot @Shamar


The only instances of something like that in Mastodon that I remember is when features like trending hashtags were introduced, where some parts of the userbase demanded them removed, (via quite rude means btw), ignoring the part of the community that did in fact want the features as irrelevant, or worse, pretending to speak on behalf of the whole community.

However, Eugen was certainly not wasting people's time or anything like that.

Any other examples?

@hirnbrot @Shamar

@MatejLach @deutrino @hirnbrot

And indeed I hadn't any strong feeling for such feature, I mildly liked its UI, but was pretty irrelevant to me.

But they totally lost me when they tried (and managed) to force their own opinion on Eugen.

You can't say to a #hacker what to #hack.

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