Poll: meritocracy and fairness

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(2 votes)
Is meritocracy a fair system?
46.3% (56 votes)
9.1% (11 votes)
44.6% (54 votes)

» After you vote, discuss this topic in-depth on the article, Building a positive meritocracy: It's harder than it sounds or in the comments below.

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Beverly's picture

Especially as it can also involve mentoring, meritocracy is probably the most fair system.

Edgar1's picture

Democracy is better system in groups and communities 'cause it can get more intensity, more debates and more participation of members. Now some actions and tasks would take more time to be done and executed.

Meanwhile in Meritocracy actions and tasks would be decided for some small groups of people that maybe give them self the merit over others. The participation would be less but stuff would be done and executed faster. Anyway, takes a lot of work to gain merit and be in the high meritocracy.

That's MHO.

anonymous's picture

for example some guy is a famous sports champion, he won a few world titles - he is a legend and the best now, but after 10 years he still is a legend (he has a lot of titles - he has a lot of merits)
but he is not the best now.

formula 1 shumacher - now
compared with hamilton,button,webber

snooker : stephen hendry compared with o'sullivan, robertson.

thats why meritocracy is good only for active people who are actively involved in a project.

bascha's picture
Open Source Evangelist

Any system is only as fair as those who it set up.

A meritocracy, where the concept of "merit" is an ever-moving target, determined by the non-standard practices of whoever is in power? Not any different than any other political arrangement, at the heart of it. Democracy, monarchy, dictatorship--those things don't matter as much as the hand holding the power. And there is /almost always/ a hand. Somewhere.

What matters is how fair, honest, and above all consistent that hand is.

IMNSHO, of course. ;P

Nikos's picture

Hear hear. The thing is that we're not all born equal, and we don't always have the capability to overcome disadvantages we might be born with on our own. Without some compassion acted out by members of its society, any system can result in unfairness.

Alain de Botton's Status Anxiety has an accessible critique of meritocracy as a method for organizing society.

In the confined context of (free) software development, however, where excellence in the product is the goal (and fairness is less of a concern), I think a meritocratic framework has worked very well.

Whatever context, its always good to try to be excellent to each other.

bascha's picture
Open Source Evangelist

Oooh, that looks really interesting, Nikos. Anything that takes me from the French Revolution to the petty jealousy of girlfriends (or guyfriends) sounds interesting! I'll have to check it out.

And, yes, I agree entirely about the confined context of (free) software development--especially in the community in the wild. When there is little status at stake (status being reward or acknowledgement, usually money), then meritocracies seem to work exceedingly well.

It usually seems to be when money/power gets added to the equation, that things start to get sticky. Sticky... but also fascinating.