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Re: Are we losing users to Gentoo?

On Thu, Nov 21, 2002 at 08:40:55PM -0800, Jim Lynch wrote:
> > On Wed, Nov 20, 2002 at 11:02:40AM +0000, Andrew Suffield wrote:
> > >> On Wed, Nov 20, 2002 at 08:50:32PM +1100, Andrew Lau wrote:
> > >>> > 	The question I want to pose today is "Are we losing users to
> > >>> > Gentoo?"
> > >>
> > >> Hell yes, and it's great. The number of morons using Debian has
> > >> noticably decreased since Gentoo came on the scene; they now have
> > >> something that will give them the stupid things they asked for, so
> > >> they stop asking us for them.
> Andrew, we who have been on #debian have long suspected but not logged
> (until now, that is) you engaging in exactly this kind of intellectual
> bigotry... This is certainly something we can (and will) now point at.

You could have, like, just asked. Discrimination against stupid people
is one of the basic requirements for a stable society; without it, the
collective intelligance cannot rise above that of the stupidest
member. It's not a big secret or anything.

Debian is, at least to some extent, a meritocracy, which is the basic
form of organisation derived from this principle (the other
significant factors being the cabal, and an anarchistic form that lets
any individual implement do anything they like, as long as they don't
try to make anybody else do something).

But, I suspect this mail was founded not upon philosophical and
political reasoning. My suspicions are aroused by the use of the term
"bigotry"; I admit I am confused as to what this is referring to
here. Let's try a dictionary definition.

>From WordNet (r) 1.7 [wn]:

       n : a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions
           differing from his own

>From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) [web1913]:

  Bigotry \Big"ot*ry\, n. [Cf. F. bigoterie.]
     1. The state of mind of a bigot; obstinate and unreasoning
        attachment of one's own belief and opinions, with
        narrow-minded intolerance of beliefs opposed to them.

Well, that didn't help any. Where exactly did beliefs come into my
original comment?

Hypothesis #1: You don't consider the notion that there have been
morons using Debian to be a fact.

I suspect most developers would disagree with you.

Hypothesis #2: You don't consider the notion that some of these
individuals have since moved to Gentoo to be a fact.

I don't have any particularly objective evidence for this one, but it
seems like a logical conclusion. I've observed a reduction in the
quantity of stupid mail I recieve, both personally and via the
lists. Gentoo appears to have addressed the concerns of these
individuals (why they do this, I am uncertain), where I would discard
these concerns as ill-informed, unjustified, misled, or just plain

However, I know a couple of people who are involved with Gentoo, and
they have in the past agreed with me that there has been a marked
influx of stupid users moving there from Debian. They weren't
particularly thrilled by this, but that doesn't really bother me.

Hypothesis #3: You don't think this stops them from asking us to do
the same things.

Well, there's some empirical evidence to suggest that this is the
case; one or two individuals have tried to tell people to make massive
sweeping changes on the basis that Gentoo does it a given way. I doubt
this is the norm, though.

Hypothesis #4: You don't think that stupid people, or requests, exist.

Heh heh. Heh heh heh. No comment.

...I can't think of anything else in those four lines that you
could have been referring to. Which only leaves:

Hypothesis #5: You failed to understand the point I was making.

If you can't see how I was replying to the original mail, rather than
just making an off-hand comment, you've missed the point (I've noticed
that people tend to do that a lot).

I'm not going to explain the line of reasoning involved; it's not
particularly deep, and just like in pure math, to understand a line of
reasoning you have to work through it yourself.

Here are a few notes on the difference between negative statements,
and the absence of statements, for those with no formal education in
logic and reasoning. Failure to understand these basic principles is
one of the biggest causes of misunderstanding that I have observed on
the Debian mailing lists.

Logic. The statement "A implies B" means that, if the statement A is
true, then the statement B is also true. It does not mean that A is
true, nor does it mean that A is not true. "A implies B" does not mean
that "B implies A".

Set theory. "set A includes set B" does not imply that "set B includes
set A", nor does it imply that "set A consists entirely of set
B". Furthermore, it does not mean that either set A or set B are of
non-zero size.

English. "A uses B" does not mean "B is used entirely by A".

Logic, revisited. A set of statements is only meaningful in a given
context; changing the context will fundamentally alter the
meaning. Introducing your own context to somebody else's statements
*will* change the meaning. As a corollary, if you enter a discussion
expecting to be offended, you will be, regardless of what the other
participants actually say.

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ | Dept. of Computing,
 `. `'                          | Imperial College,
   `-             -><-          | London, UK

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