In response to a blogpost by Taryn Fox. Unfortunately anonymous comments are disabled and OpenID just seems annoying.
In the blogpost it was said that the “the idea of “meritocracy” causes depression and kills people“. I see the reasoning behind it as unfamiliar and not related to what I see as meritocracy.
For one, blaming others for failures and punishing them? I don’t see that in GNOME at all. There should be an atmosphere where that is not acceptable. I think we already have it using the Code of Conduct, though lately I have not really been wanting to look at things due to the huge amount of discussion some of my actions have caused. So better do nothing than to get crap. I still believe we’re doing pretty ok in GNOME. Maybe in some other project meritocracy is used as an excuse to behave badly. If it happens in GNOME and it is more than a one-off, then raise it. Similar to having a Code of Conduct explaining the minimum we think anyone should behave, we can make an explanation on meritocracy.
There is another thing that people are somehow worthwhile and get rewarded. That is not the idea. The idea is that people put in effort. This is based upon work, not something vague like “worth”. Worth is difficult to measure. Having done X amount of triaging, X amount of translations or X amount of git commits is something you can measure. Then you also have things like helping out at conferences, or just plain attending. I find it pretty logical that the one putting in most effort can dictate more and is listened to more. It is very easy to have an opinion or think that something should work in some way. But unless anyone actually does something, all those ideas are just that, ideas.
The idea behind why I call something meritocracy is that everyone is treated in a similar way. In the blogpost it is even said that some people need help and not anyone is able to do the same thing. Which is why if someone is able to be a maintainer, the person should become one. You don’t make someone maintainer because you think they’re a cool person, you judge on measured effort. In any company it usually works in an arbitrary way. You can have people move “up”, while their work would suggest something entirely different. The promotion could have been done because of anything. E.g. being friends with the right person.
I don’t want to get personal, but do think the blogpost is very focused on a possible negative aspect of meritocracy. I don’t have too much experience with depressions, aside from e.g. after a breakup. At that time everything is negative and it is very easy to make conclusions which to yourself are entirely logical and reasoned. I think it is best to share your thoughts to anyone and notice the response it generates. Though it might make sense to not share your thoughts, it is actually not logical at all. One person does not know everything. For meritocracy for instance, of course it might have drawbacks. The reason I really promote meritocracy is because of the benefits it brings. But that does not mean that any drawbacks are acceptable. With promoting meritocracy people are promoting the good it brings. Anything will have drawbacks, promoting any idea does not imply you want the whole thing. One other example is those “light” drinks. Benefit is to be more healthy (less sugars), but you might get cancer from it. Promoting those drinks is not done to promote getting cancer.