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Being a developer is not a right nor a privilege

First of all thanks to Alex for showing me that is not just my fool idea that there is something wrong in what is currently considered QA in Gentoo.

Then, before entering in the topic of this entry, I want to say that I’m sorry that today Farragut was down for two hours straight… a temporary construction fell over the power–lines on a construction yard (no, luckily not in any house I have to visit myself, I wouldn’t trust them if they can’t even get a temporary storage that does not fall over at the first windy day), and the power company doesn’t seem to think of this area like a priority. This makes it 7 hours and a half of blackout this month.

Now, to get on topic, this is the second part of my series about the reason why I left Gentoo.. it’s not exactly proper, I could have stand this easily, it’s just something that I do think it’s a mistake for Gentoo, and that should be considered as one thing that has to be fixed.

I think this is probably what Daniel missed entirely when he returned. Being a Gentoo developer is not a right, nor a privilege, it’s something else.

You can easily understand why it’s not a right, or rather how it’s not a right: you need to pass a test and the recruitment process to be able to join the Gentoo Developers pool, this is right because of course nobody is entitled to be a developer just because he wants. One has to prove not to be a burden to the developers, to know what he’s doing and to be able to actually work on the tree. It allows to shoo away time wastes and people who are not going to stick around, and just seems to come for.. not sure for what, but you can continue reading what I think the other problem is to complete this view.

Now, about the privilege, I want to let everybody know that there is nothing good at being a developer most of the times. What you get, is a nice email address, which beside having a good impression on you resumé (or on your Curriculum Vitæ if you live on the right side of the pond†) can help you to get some hostile upstream developers more friendly, but this is far from being an advantage, trust me; you get access to the Gentoo Infra, but what for?

All you have, is access to actually do more work, to check and close bugs, to commit stuff, to work on projects, to take care of ebuilds, packages, whatever. You get to follow policies, you get to be blamed if stuff doesn’t work. What you get, is only responsibility.

If you have to work with an hostile upstream for which you need a Gentoo mail address, you are not really looking for a privilege or an advantage, but just for masochism to work on something even more complicated.

The reason why I decided to become a developer, was to give back something; I was (and am) an avid Free Software user, and I wanted to contribute. I was looking for no advantage, I knew I was expecting work and responsibilities, and with this in mind, I joined Gentoo.

But now, why should I be considering that I would get fired if I ask for a specific condition to be met by my employer? I actually already make sure that some conditions stands when I’m working on something, might it be I don’t have to work on Windows, or it might even be that I don’t want to work in team with someone.

When I asked Bryan to take care of enacting geoman’s brag about retiring, I was posing a condition on my work. It wasn’t met, I left; I see no point in calling this a «blackmail», I think Steev probably labelled it most correctly as «ultimatum», but I don’t see it with such strong negative connotations. Considering it’s a volunteer work, that has nothing good to offer me, and for which I only had to offer my time, I find deciding whether to continue on it or not is my prerogative; if that depends on a particular issue, then let it be. If Bryan decided that acting on geoman’s retirement «plan» was okay, I would have just continued doing my job.

Now of course there are projects for which being a developer is a privilege, because you can access secret repositories, secret sources, secret documentation or whatever else, or because you get paid, or not sure for what else. Gentoo is not like this, not anymore. This is what Daniel missed, when he was in charge, being a developer was a privilege, now it is not, so there’s no much point on trying to deny anyone from being a developer to hurt them, the only point is to keep poisonous people from ruining the experience of other developers.

And before I get misinterpreted, I’m not saying that users weren’t thankful, I actually thank everybody who said thanks to me, o who sent me a gift, they were appreciated, and really helped me carrying on with some things I didn’t like 🙂 So it’s not totally bad, it’s just that it’s not good by definition, being good is an extra, and that works out only if you actually do your share of work for the community. Thank you guys!

† Before I’m told I’m insulting the Americans, as long as North is up, we in Europe are on the right side, while USA is on the left side. It’s a joke, or a pun as you prefer, if you want I can make you a scheme, hm?

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