Step up or shut up

Step up or shut up!“, created by Jeroen Van Meewen (aka Kanarip) is THE most real opensouce motto. Every person who is going to write an email of complains/flames/request/whatever, should stop writing, read it, count until 1111 and then start thinking.

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9 thoughts on “Step up or shut up

  1. The idea of “don’t just talk, do something” is good.

    The words “step up or shut up!” actually embody a *problem* in open source.

    When you use language that is crude and abrasive, it turns away _people_. Not just people offended by the words, but people who do not want to be in a community that treats itself in that way.

    When you consider that includes a large portion of the male population and perhaps an even larger portion of the female population … that’s a lot of the world to turn away at the turn of a phrase.

    When I am in projects that use overly abrasive language, I either try to turn the tide (do something) or I leave (do something.) Remember, stepping up can include stepping out — leaving.

    Let’s not drive people away for the sake of cute phrasing. 🙂

  2. I think user feedback and especially feature requests are important for Free Software. Not all people know how to write software or fix problems, but they can give valuable (and sometimes not-so-valuable) suggestions. Just telling people to “do it yourself if you want it” is a bit rude, there I agree with Karsten. There is a huge difference in “Sorry, but I have no time to change the program/I don’t think this is a good idea, because…” and a “Step up or shut up”. If the author of a program loses touch with the users of his software it will be a bad situation for both the developers and the users. After all Free Software is about collaboration, isn’t it? And even feedback is a contribution. The requester has taken his time to find out your mail adress/find your bug tracker and complain about something.

  3. How about

    “If you’re not going to commit yourself to a stable project and be responsive to your users, don’t promote your project as anymore than a prototype of a real solution. Blaming users because you’re lazy/incompetent/have-different-priorities doesn’t make your project suck less.”

    I don’t mean to justify jerk-flamers, but I’ve seen lots of people’s opinions discounted on the basis that they were just words and not code, at least on the Ubuntu forums. It makes me sad that buggy or dead software sometimes gets hoisted upon helpless users for whom it actually is a great burden having to learn how to code, work with the project, and contribute back. Really, they should probably just spent a bit more money and use a Mac.

    Sorry if that’s acerbic. I think we’re probably talking about different situations, too (you, whiners who could do something trying to direct others; me, egotistical developers who spit on the plebs). But they’re related at least tangentially.

  4. Karsten +1.

    I agree with the underlying meaning of the phrase, but prefer saying it as “Do Something” or “scratch your own itch,” or the like. Remember, I’ve got to explain this to my parents, to school administrators, etc – and they appreciate courteous wording.

    It might not be a bad idea to come up with alternative phrasings of this sort of sentiment – it’s definitely an important cultural tenet of open source, and we need to be able to communicate it to as many people and viewpoints as possible.

  5. Doing something instead of complaining is a nice idea, however there is only so much time in the day and only so many abandoned projects one can take over.

    It is a much better use of ones time to submit bug reports to active, maintained projects and wait for the right person to fix it than to learn whole new programming languages, read whole new codebases or to take over abandoned projects.

  6. I was wondering not specifically about software development or bugfixes but on more general community organizations.

    What happens often is, for short discussions, to have a huge mailing list thread of people that continue to say their point of view but actually when is time to do something, everybody disappear.

    Anyway I’m really fed up of this 🙂

  7. What a stupid, arrogant motto!

    The feedback, any feedback, but especially negative feedback is something quite valuable.
    Anyone giving you some information on your system is actually doing you a favor. To treat them with contempt (if their opinion doesn’t suit you) is to be stupid IMO.

  8. @Adriatic: As I can say in my previous comment, I’m not talking about software development….

    have you ever tried to try to run a local community (also small)?

    If you did, then you (unfortunately) might agreed with me 😉

  9. @whitenoise

    >have you ever tried to try to run a local community (also small)?
    Yes, I run few open source projects with the communities that gathered around them.

    I agree with comment by “Julian Aloofi”. You can not assume that everyone can solve the problem they complain about.
    You can get from a community member only what he is capable and willing to give. Sometimes that is only a good critics. But IMO this is valuable too. Being able to see the same thing from more than one perspective is valuable.

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