A Humble Apology


To Eric S. Raymond,

We spoke, however briefly, many years ago in regards to your definition of hacker. I'd be surprised if you remembered the conversation but it left a strong impression. Up until that point, I was somewhat of a fan. I had read The Cathedral And The Bazaar. I had used a lot of the software you maintained, etc. I knew you did good work but your personality was somewhat grating and you appeared to have launched a direct attack on a community of which I have long been a part; the computer security community. You seemed not only interested in protecting what you call the original meaning of the word, but also with bringing down anyone who dared co-opt the word for other uses. As such, I declared you, if not an enemy, then at least someone worth ignoring.

A lot has changed since we spoke. I, personally, have settled down a lot. Women do that to you. I've learnt that everyone has their little quirks. Some people are too preachy. Other people are too direct. Others interrupt people too much. And others just sound way too extreme when they express their views. I've learnt a lot of my own faults. I can be like a dog with a bone when I think I'm right, and when it comes to you, I've always thought the impression I got from that first discussion was right.

Of course, the problem with believing something you want to believe is that you never challenge that belief. Someone, for the first time in my life, called me a redneck geek today. I immediately thought of you. I don't mean that as insult. I don't think you're a redneck, but I know that you have been called that in the past and have had a bit of a chuckle whenever I heard it. That got me thinking... maybe I've got you all wrong.

Maybe you're not just a jerk who should be ignored. Maybe you've just got a few faults and I should be looking beyond the faults and taking notice of virtues instead. This has always been the approach I have taken with Richard Stallman, as such a strange man, who has done such great work, really deserves our tolerance. It's also the approach I've taken with Theo de Raadt who, although seriously lacking in any sense of calm or perspective, has done wonderful things for software freedom. After reading A Fan of Freedom I can see that I have been gleefully accepting a distorted view of your relationship with RMS, because it fit my personal bias. In fact, I see now that your view of Free Software and RMS' approach to the problem are close to my own and you too have done much for freedom.

As such, I would like to humbly apologise for disrespecting you for these many years. Whenever given the opportunity I have slagged your good name and for that I truly am sorry. I have decided to make this letter public in the hope that those who have witnessed my attacks against you over these many years might read it and understand my mistake. I know this may mean nothing to you, as I doubt you even remember who I am, but I hope you will accept these words with the sincerity with which they are intended.

Yours Truly,

QuantumG
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