Open Source Contribution Quandary

I recently rediscovered an open source project in an area I am interested in and like to contribute to. The presentation layer aspect looks good. The installation procedure and language about streamlining looks good as well. It would solve a lot of the problems that I’m having with software I’m using in a similar area. Yet the more I looked into it the more I felt, for lack of a better term, icky at the notion of being associated with such a project for reasons beyond the software itself.

I knew from previous research the first time I came across this project that it was the baseline for a right wing targeted social media site. This all came about because the site originally was using Mastodon as its baseline and hadn’t seemed to be contributing back to any of that. That is one of the negative aspects of open source software, it may be used for purposes that you find detestable.

What I didn’t know until today though was that the project was originally based on a fork of another right wing targeted social media site and that the main developer/forker actively contributed to one or both of those social networks. This is not a case of someone’s software was being used by others but they actively contributed to it. Perhaps that is just a devil’s bargain so that development could be funded and not because of any particular affinity with those people. Then I delved into their social media profile.

Their timeline was a mishmash of innocuous content mixed with some shall we say unsavory content. That would include things like making fun of trans people, pushing “gays are coming for your children”, and “free speech maximalism”. The last one can sometimes be a principled stand. I’ve seen “free speech maximalists” that don’t have some shade of 8chan on their posting history. It’s more the libertarianism in extreme type of philosophy. That I can disagree with but not find personally offensive. When their timeline is littered with offensive stuff like above that leads me to have a bigger concern.

Can I work on a project where we have fundamental disagreements on things in the realm of politics? Sure. There is a limit though. When there are several posts that are anti-LGBT that is a big red flag for me. When there are a bunch of “all lives matters” type shit same thing. I know plenty of people that are mostly nice and pleasant who don’t wish specific harm on a particular gay person or racial minority but they have that dark undercurrent about them. Do I want to put myself in a position where I have to sit there and silently tolerate that sort of shit? Instead if I joined would I then have to deal with being the outspoken “problem contributor” and create heartburn for everyone?

Do I really need to introduce that toxicity into my life? Probably not.