What is this way, then, that Mozillians view the world? Throughout my many discussions, I noticed a number of recurring beliefs (many of which are general to engineers and developers, and not just open source communities):
- There’s always a right answer. Unlike most professional designers, I noticed that developers like to use the word “right” a lot when designing solutions. Understandings of tradeoffs seem to be limited.
- My answer is right. Most of the Mozillians I met like to believe they have the right answer. There appears to be a joy on defending this position as well.
- If a rationale argument can’t be made for a solution, the solution is invalid. Rational thought is the only valid means of obtaining knowledge or solving a problem.
- Proof by existence, not by evidence. Prototype it and then I’ll believe you.
- Ambiguity is unacceptable. Messy or noisy problems need not be solved. Solve the solvable problems.
Another recurring stance I noticed was that developers are special, privileged class. Obviously this isn’t the first time I’ve see this, but it did make me wonder where it comes from. So I probed. What I found was that every story of how someone learned to program and become part of the community was one of competitive selection. It’s hard to learn to program, it’s hard to get into CS, it’s hard to get a development job, and it’s hard to become a Mozilla developer. In fact, many told me that with all of these trials by fire, they learned quickly to act confident, to act certain, and to act as if one is right. One developer described this as a form of elitism, which brings with it a disdain for other view points and other more easily acquired skill sets (hence the apparent lesser status of localizers, testers, and support).