Dear User...

An Open Letter

... I guess this is goodbye. You've threatened to leave so many times now that I am personally amazed that I am the one who have to take this last step, but someone have to at this point. I can't count the number of times you've said you'd stop using the thing I make on my free time, for free, for you to use, unless I catered directly to your needs.

You've told me that I am not pulling my weight. That the things I make, on my free time, for free, for you to use, are not up to snuff - they don't meet the requirements you have set. The standards you dictate are not level with my results. When I look behind me, all I see in term of dead weight is you.

Over and over, you tell me I should manage my time and effort better - that me "reinventing the wheel" or "doing another useless feature" is pointless compared to the critical needs you have. The time and effort it takes for me to dig through your frivolous, made up bug reports, emails, posts on social media etc, is time that very realistically is taken from the thing I make on my free time, for free, for you to use. I keep wondering why you think this saves me time somehow?

On the other hand I am amazed by your passion - you're still here. Even though you keep telling me or talking to others about me, that I am incompetent, unskilled and idiotic, you still use the thing I make on my free time, for free, for you to use. I'd be pleased if it weren't for the fact that my competence also hinges on my belief in it to realize those projects - and let's be frank, you are not helping in that regard.

That is a thing I envy in you, your confidence in your own skills. Especially since you've never shown them. You can happily use the thing I make, on my free time, for free, for you to use, then angrily tell me how bad it is - but when I ask you to help, even in such a small way as explain exactly whats wrong with it so I can fix it, you refuse. You don't have time to contribute, to take part and it makes me think why I don't emulate that confidence in regards to my own time, I guess that is what this is in a way.

If there is something I will miss from this, what we had, it is that. Your sense of self-worth. What else can you call it when you angrily tell me that your contribution to this thing I make, on my own free time, for free, for you to use, is your mere presence? Your usage of that thing. That you sauntered in and consumed the thing I make, is somehow payment enough yet I can never quite remember when I agreed to be your servant, sales clerk or support channel?

We know each other though, don't we? For example I know that you at this point is writing some scathing reply about my skin and how its too thin. That a prerequisite for me spending my own free time, for free, doing something you use, was some sort of rhino like hide that could take the abuse. Had I know that my own interests came with a volley of buckshot at random intervals I may have reconsidered them, taken up macramé instead. I wonder if rhino's have these same issues? Hunters telling their felled carcass to not be so damn thin skinned as if that, and not the bullets, was the core reason why the rhino just laid down and quit.

I also know that you may claim that you where JUST on the cusp of becoming a contributor after all this time and me driving you away is what made you change your mind. I wish I could believe that. I also wish I could believe that even if, against all evidence, you would become part of the community of the thing I make on my free time, for free, for you to use, you would somehow be better at that than you where a consumer of the creation but I fear I can't be that naive. You've taken any childlike naivete I may have had a long time ago.

Please... please don't though. Please don't look up "ableism" on wikipedia and try to fling it in my face. That the interest I have, that I have done my entire life and therefor cultivated into a skill somehow behooves me to invest it into your needs. Fancy words except creative ways telling me I am shit have never been your thing.

"... then you'll lose me!" You've said over and over as an emotional extortion when I don't spring to action at any whim and fancy you may have - I guess this letter is me answering that question, after all these years:

"Would you leaving be a loss?"


Part 1 of several posts of the difference between Users and Community Members in Free and Libre Software

This post was inspired by Drew DeVaults Drive to Blog on Fosstodon <3 Drew