I had the opportunity to meet a very smart Mastodon developer recently and was struck by three things:

1. They're young and expect software look professional and work right out of the box.

2. They're thoughtful and are as much product managers as engineers.

3. They think in terms of what user will experience first, and implementation later, but equally competent discussing either.

If this is the next generation of the Free Software community, I couldn't be happier/prouder.

@Wolf480pl I'm not super familiar with the GNOME Way. Can you point me to it?

I don't have links atm, but I'm referring to the "I the dev care about UX, I know how the software should be used by my Model User, what it should look like, etc. Config options? That'd be confusing. Customizability? That'd break our UX. Either use the software how we think you should use it, or go fuck yourself." approach.

@Wolf480pl I really don't appreciate your misinterpretation of what I said. I made it very clear that I was extremely happy with the thoughtfulness I saw and that as someone whose been involved in Free Software for a long time, I'm thrilled with the way the next generation is running with the torch.

Your response was you're frustrated by a post in a project where you disagree with them.

That's just not appropriate.

@emacsen @Wolf480pl

disagreement isn't appropriate? L M A O

I am *not* happy with how many people in my cohort approach software dev. yes UX is important, but absolutely not at the expense of code quality and performance. hey, maybe you aren't talking about GNOME folks, because they are certainly not doing God's work.

@xj9 When you take a nice post about the future of the movement and hijack it to be about your personal gripe, no it's not appropriate.

Sorry if it appeared like it's just my personal gripe with one project, but from my perspective, it's a whole new trend that's spreading throughout FOSS, and IMO leads us to a very grim future.

From my experience, there's a dichotomy between developing software as a product/experience or as a tool.

Whenever someone treats a piece of software as a product, tries to make things out of the box, etc. they end up hiding complexity - oftentimes inherent complexity of the problem the software tries to solve - under the carpet. That leads to all kinds of issues when the user wants to do something nonstandard, or encounters an edge case.

It also often correlates with the developer thinking they're smarter than the user, and trying to force their decisions onto users.

OTOH, when developing a tool, the developer exposes how it works to the user, and passes the decisions - and responsibility for them - onto the user. This often means the UX isn't as nice, because the user is forced to face the real complexity of the problem at hand.

I see those two approaches as mutually exclusive. I hope one day I'll be proven wrong.

It's this second approach that was the greatest contrast between FOSS and proprietary software 10 years ago, and that attracted me to FOSS in the first place. And I'm worried we're losing it.

So I think it's appropriate to voice my pessimism about the future of the movement under your post voicing optimism about the very same phenomenon.

@emacsen And the problem I described even appears with the project you used as an example: Mastodon.

There are many things that could be configurable, yet the devs insist that it shouldn't, because they want it consistent across instances.
IOW, the devs want to enforce that consistency onto instance admins, even though there's no technical reason for that consistency to be needed.

Character limit is one example of such setting. I remember there being more, but can't tell what they were off the top of my head.

And as I've said, I'm under the impression that this isn't just a few projects that are developed this way, but a whole trend.


Firstly your comment was still inappropriate, in the same way that it's inappropriate at a graduation or funeral to badmouth someone.

But let's go back to your critique.

Free Software is *always* configurable. What you're really saying is "Make it easily configurable to just what I want in the way I want.".

My answer to that is that no one is under an obligation to do that. When talking to Mastodon devs it's clear that they consider their choices carefully for a wide audience.

@Wolf480pl @emacsen This seems to imply that there is a one size fits all answer for software.

To me most programmes are best off being designed and implemented in the unix model. Generally when I write something that's ideal my starting point.

But there is very well implemented software that takes a very different approach.

My point is that you use the right tool for the job. Dogma shouldn't be the reason for anything. And UX does matter, in some cases it can be the most important thing.

@emacsen Glad to hear! I hope in the future they can extend their vision of what "user" means in this context to instance administrator. I know that running a Mastodon instance is getting easier and easier over time - I'd love to see that trend continue and accelerate (understanding that people's time and effort are neither free nor infinite :)

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Mastodon is one server in the network