Contributing to free software requires privilege. Even regular contributors might sometimes find themselves without it.

Time, focus and money. You might find yourself lacking in one of these at various points in your life.

While software projects from startups move like streams, most free software projects move like glaciers. They move slowly but they keep moving for decades.

Being away from a project doesn't mean you have to give it up. You can join back later.

#FreeSoftware #Privilege


@njoseph People throw the word ‘privilege’ around too liberally, in my opinion. I fail to see how having a little free time per week is a privilege.

I mean, I don’t have as much free time as I had when I was younger, and people who have families to take care of have even less time than I do, but that’s just normal, and each situation comes with their own perks to make up for the differences. When I was younger I had more time, but no money. Now I have money, but less time. There is no privilege involved. Just trade-offs.

@josemanuel @njoseph oh bug off. there's no way in the world I'd have been able to contribute to FOSS to the extent I have if my jobs weren't supportive, and I don't even have any dependents. to the point I had to basically take a full year or longer off because work was actively obstructing me from working in FOSS and the time I was trying to spend on it was burning me out, so I just ended up feeling guilty and awful all the time.

I frequently think about how lucky I am that after working in this field for a decade, I'm finally being paid full-time to work on an upstream project.

@ehashman @josemanuel @njoseph

This is not the norm though.
You are one of the blessed priviledged exceptions.
And personally i dont wouldnt want the supervision/blessing of my employer to contribute somewhere

@msavoritias @josemanuel @njoseph I agree with all that.

Unfortunately intellectual property agreements with employers as well as conflicting work assignments are a reality for many workers.

@ehashman How is any of that a privilege? Are you so eager to get along with the ‘privilege’ narrative that you’re willing to deny all the hard work you put out to get where you are? “Nah, it was all privilege. I just had the privilege to get supportive jobs and not have a family. And now I get paid to do what I love because of those privileges I had. I didn’t really do anything.”

The thing is, I contribute to free software in my spare time. I am content to do so to the extent my life permits. I don’t feel privileged at all and I don’t think I should. I mean, would someone who enjoys, I don’t know, doing arts and crafts have to feel like they’re privileged for being able to? It’s just a hobby. I do it because I enjoy it. That’s all.


@josemanuel @ehashman @njoseph I was piss-poor when I started with open source, and I was doing it in whatever free time I had because I was passionate about it. That experience allowed me to finally start getting freelance work and eventually make my open-source projects my main source of income.
I didn't grow up in the first world, BTW.
I agree with the point you want to make, but the privilege narrative is incredibly simplified to the point of being bullshit.

@josemanuel @njoseph I work my ass off. It is also accurate to say that privilege is a huge factor in being able to land the jobs I've had, and that my paid work is the main reason that I can make such contributions. It's further true that it probably took me an extra few years to get here compared to the average FOSS contributor because of who I am.

I've watched very smart and capable people be gatekept and railroaded because they don't fit in. Tech worker pay can be life-changing, and that can pose a risk to the status quo. Thus, it's mainly rewarded to those who fit the mold, even when others are far more competent but don't fit in, because they risk upsetting the system.

This view is coloured by my perspective as an immigrant to the US, where I've seen how the Silicon Valley venture capitalists shape tech, how in spite of my skills I am frequently set up to fail, and how workers in this country cannot opt out of paid jobs, often with large companies, because health care is attached to them.

@ehashman Listen, if you want me to admit that you’re privileged, that’s all right with me. I don’t really care. It’s your life.

But I, as many other people who contribute to free software projects, am not, and that’s ok, too.

Also, I don’t know what 90% of what you said applies to this discussion. What was that about Silicon Valley? Getting a job there is a choice, and even more so if you’re an immigrant. Amsterdam, Berlin or Dublin are great hubs for tech jobs. Nobody’s forced to work in Silicon Valley. And the culture and working conditions there are very different from those of other places, so if your perspective is coloured by that, then it’s certainly very limited and can’t be generalised to all free software contributors, which waive from every part of the world.


It is pretty clear you are talking about privilege, because a large number of people don't really get to choose where they get to work.
@ehashman @njoseph

@josemanuel @njoseph Not really sure what your point is. Like you say, a lot of people don't have free time, i.e. having free time is a privilege. Getting the education to learn how to program, or time to self-teach is also a privilege. That these differences are "just normal" doesn't make it not a privilege?
That this is about "just trade-offs" is just nonsense, unless you think we're all born equal with the same resources.

@josemanuel @njoseph The good thing is though that spending time on free software is an excellent way of undermining that privilege.

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