Go will never belong to the community until they decide its future

There was a recent post* about how Go is Google’s language, not ours. It was an opinionated post, but it provided some evidence to back up its claims.

Russ Cox (a Tech Lead for the Go language) posted a reasoned response to this which, I think basically tried to say that it wasn’t true, and they had regular meetings to discuss community proposals.

But for me, the telling bit of it was this:

We have talked in the past about whether to explicitly look for people outside Google to sit in our weekly meeting, but if that’s really important, then we are not doing our job right.

It doesn’t matter how many different types of people you let speak at a meeting if you don’t let those same types of people participate in the decision at the end.

There’s a huge difference between listening to people unlike yourself and truly understanding people unlike yourself. For example, I’m white. I try really hard to listen to members of the black community, but I am in no way equipped to truly understand what it’s like to be a black person in this country. I’m definitely not equipped to make decisions on their behalf.

This same thinking applies to any group. If the community is not participating in the decisions about their needs then they have no real voice, and whatever you’re discussing absolutely does not belong to them. It’s just something you’ve chosen to share with them, and let them talk about.

For a real world example of this, consider politicians. Their job is to listen to community proposals about what to do with the community. Recently 25 white men who just decided that they were better judges of what to do with women’s bodies than women. Similarly, politicians with stable incomes have been making it increasingly illegal to be homeless. This is what happens when the community gets to speak, but only one type of person gets to decide.

Until the community has a voice in the decisions about Go’s future Go is not theirs.

[UPDATE] Russ responded to my post on twitter with more thoughtful words. The core of it seemed to be that I was misunderstanding the purpose of the “room” discussed above. I may be. But in my experience, whenever an insular group is discussing things that affects others, and asks “should we allow them in here?” the answer should essentially always be “yes”.

* Recent as of May 29 2019