re: Open Source Has Not Failed. Don't Cover Up Corporate Abuse of Open Source VIEW POST

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Err… let’s see: imagine Bob has 1h a day to spend on open source because he’s got a full time job, and Alice spends 10h a day working on the same project because she really enjoys it and doesn’t need to work; she inherited a large fortune from her grandmother. Alice quickly rises as the tech lead of the project because of the work she was able to pour in it. How is any of that meritocratic? (And I won’t get into the origins of the term meritocracy.)

How much time you have to dedicate to any given endeavor is part of the merit of your qualifications for the endeavor.

The only difference in qualification between Bob and Alice in my example is that Alice has inherited money while Bob hasn’t. Are you suggesting Alice has more merit because she inherited money? That doesn’t fit a definition of meritocracy that I’m wiling to consider in a conversation.

I'm not a Democrat.

A study of gender bias in open source found that women who contributed openly got their pull requests merged less often than when they hid their gender. It's as drastic as 58% accepted when open and 78.7% accepted when hidden.

A "pure" meritocracy wouldn't consider a factor completely unconnected to the work in determining merit.

Also, if fewer women's open source PRs are accepted, then fewer women become open source contributors, then a filter for open source developers in the hiring process would accept fewer women.

Here's a link to the study they're talking about.

Meritocracy doesn't care about why you have merit, only that you have merit or don't.

So women, whose contributions are demonstrably accepted less frequently because they are women, therefore demonstrably have less merit because they are women?

I'm not a Democrat.

Oh, must be that you're not from the U.S.

This guy on reddit seems to have a valid criticism of the methodology of that study: reddit.com/r/programming/comments/...

For the purposes of getting something on your resume to get an entry level programming job, you don't have to get PRs accepted by prominent open source projects to get some open source development experience. You can just code something, anything. Fork somebody. Even make a game. It doesn't have to be big or important. The point is just to prove that you can code: that's all. It helps get you over the "no experience" gap at the beginning of your career. Some people don't even have to go that route because they built something worth showing off for their coursework in college. But employers want to see that you've done something, so at least you know the basics. Putting something up on Github can help bridge that gap a little.

When I said "Meritocracy doesn't care..." I was responding to this:

"The only difference in qualification between Bob and Alice in my example is that Alice has inherited money while Bob hasn’t. Are you suggesting Alice has more merit because she inherited money? That doesn’t fit a definition of meritocracy that I’m wiling to consider in a conversation."

My response to that was, "Meritocracy doesn't care about why you have merit, only that you have merit or don't."

But the more I think about this, the more I find this argument really absurd. Imagine if we were talking about being a concert pianist, and we have Alice who inherited enough money to dedicate her life to constant practice and instruction with the best teachers in the world, and Bob who doesn't have enough time to practice because he has to work. Well guess what, Alice is extremely likely to have more merit as a concert pianist than Bob, no matter what caused Alice to get there.

Look, I'm not going to respond to this any more than to point out that your insistence that I am either a Democrat or not from America (I am) is as blatant a demonstration as I could imagine that you are the one being partisan. Take a step back for the day, come back to it later, and maybe you'll see how the consequences of your argument (women and working-class people have less merit than non-women and people who inherit money) are ridiculous.

maybe you'll see how the consequences of your argument (women and working-class people have less merit than non-women and people who inherit money) are ridiculous.

Merit isn't the same thing as personal worth. Merit is about how well you can do the job. If your wealth buys you the best education and the time to pursue excellence, then OF COURSE you are more likely to have more merit for the task you've educated and trained yourself for than someone who didn't have that advantage. But this is not inherent to having wealth. Economic determinism is false. Rich idiots don't have more merit. But rich experts do.

“Meritocracy (merit, from Latin mereō, and -cracy, from Ancient Greek κράτος kratos "strength, power") is a political philosophy which holds that certain things, such as economic goods or power, should be vested in individuals on the basis of talent, effort, and achievement, rather than factors such as sexuality, race, gender, or wealth.” —en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meritocracy

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