The Ruby community is something that I have been proud to be a part of for going well on eight years. I am one of those people that fell in love with Ruby by reading the first PickAxe book cover to cover...in one weekend. It was like reading a great novel where the novel ends up coming true. I joined early in 2001 on RubyTalk and have attended every RubyConf. I really enjoyed the engaging exchanges with people doing interesting hobbies with Ruby.
Oh how things have changed!
I think the change comes because of the fact that with Ruby and Rails popularity we have those that have defined themselves by what they have built with it. This was never the case before, but it is now. Now, when I say people have defined themselves, I literally mean that people see their own core value in what they have created, whether it be a service, a framework or a library. There is nothing wrong is having pride in what you build or are a part of. The wrong comes when a person actually believes that without this thing that they built, without people praising that thing, that they are nothing.
That completely saddens me.
Each of you...each of us...are vastly more valuable that the things we create. A human being is not defined by what they do, please don't ever fall into that trap. When someone descends into this way of thinking a common pattern emerges. When another person criticizes what they have built whether directly or even indirectly they take it personally. I mean very personally. Since their foundation is this construct, you shake that foundation and you shake them to the core as a human being. The criticism is rarely attempting to be an attack on the person, its usually just an intellectual difference of thought. The next part of the pattern is the creator of said construct attacks back the criticizer in a way that that person does not even remotely understand...sometimes to the point of threat.
This is wrong!
The United States used to be a place where we could have vastly different views, but the conversations were civil. When civility is thrown out the door, when extremes on varying sides rip apart the fabric of what the vast majority in the middle hold to, its hard to forget that at the end of the day we all need to work together to live and thrive. I think this happens when people see their party, or an issue, as the foundation of who they are. Like the person you builds themselves on created work, an idea can form the same trap, and people fall into the same pattern of attack/counter-attack. Our community, like any community, cannot endure this kind of stress. We don't want to be like the rest, we should strive to rise above it.
We should demand civility.
I propose that we demand civility in the Ruby and Rails community. Civility does not mean conformity. I don't expect people to believe as I do, although I will argue what I believe fervently. Civility does not mean that we cannot disagree. Civility is founded upon the notion that we are all people, and as people we have value. That value is intrinsic in us as people, not on what we have done, created or are a part of. When ideas we hold, or things we are created are criticized, we must separate ourselves from those things and defend them intellectually. When someone in the community does attack another personally, we must defend against a lack of civility and speak with a unified voice that attacks on people are wrong. Some people believe that in a community anything should go. That is not a community. Communities have values and borders. I for one believe that the civility that was there in the beginning should be restored as a central defining quality of the Ruby and Rails community. I would like to know if my community agrees with me.