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Re: rudeness in general

I accidentally posted the following to debian-user this morning, it was
supposed to go to debian-devel in this thread; please excuse me
re-posting it.

On Mon, Jan 10, 2005 at 07:14:29PM +0100, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> It's impossible not to be rude on written media. What's a harmless
> joke to one is an insult to another, and an attack to one's
> personality to a third one.

Sure, misunderstandings happen.  But people are also objectively rude,
whether deliberately or as a matter of careless habit - this is what I
find unacceptable, not the occasional misinterpreted joke or whatever.

Deliberate or careless rudeness is much more common on our lists that
such misunderstandings.

If I say "Debian might release sarge any *year* now :)", that is not
objectively rude (although it might be a mild troll depending on my
intent).  If someone responds by calling me a "!@#$% loser" or tells me
to go to hell, that is unacceptably rude.  That is an unacceptable
response on a Debian list, no matter what the provocation.

Public <plonk>ing, unless in response to extreme provocation, is also
very rude.  If you want to killfile someone, go ahead.  Send them a
private message, but don't make a scene of it.

> You can't expect everyone to be happy with everything you might
> possibly write.

Similarly I can't expect that I will always write code that is
completely free of bugs - nevertheless I try not to write buggy code,
and I try not to offend people unnecessarily.

You seem to be saying that we shouldn't attempt to address the issue of
rudeness because we can't achieve perfect harmony and concordance.

> 'RTFM' means "Go read the documentation, that's what it's for". I
> personally find it far more rude to go on a mailing list, ask for the
> obvious, and expect a bunch of volunteers to come up with an answer
> that's been answered in great detail in the documentation, than to be
> sent back with an 'RTFM' as answer to that question.

I suppose there might be two kinds of "RTFM" response to a newbie
question, about bash completion for example:

  1. Go read the bash manual.
     (and stop wasting our precious bandwidth and time!)

  2. Try "info bash", type ^S for interactive search, then "completion".
     Check out the info tutorial, if you haven't used it before :)

The first response is unacceptably rude, a _real_ waste of bandwidth.
Even "Go read the bash manual." by itself is no good.

The second response is fine, because it is polite and helpful.

If the newbie keeps asking questions before checking the manual, you can
answer his question politely and then suggest - politely - that next
time he ought to check the manual before posting.

If you've got time to reply, you've got time to do a good job.  If not,
leave replying to some volunteer who _doesn't_ find it rude when people
ask the obvious.

> In any case, I strongly disagree with the stance that the rudeness of a
> particular developer would reflect on Debian as a whole.

When people are excessively and unjustifiably rude and others just let
it pass, it does reflect badly on Debian.  When people use obscene or
abusive language, and everyone lets it pass, this passive approval
reflects badly on Debian.  It even drives people away from Debian.

If we get accustomed to accepting rudeness and talking aggressively
among ourselves, we will start treating outsiders similarly.  I am
particularly upset that several people on debian-legal were rude to RMS
during the discussions about the GFDL.

Many people find obscenity and aggression offensive.  This is one of the
reasons why some women have left the male-dominated groups and started
separate lists and groups.  Men are often welcome to join such groups
too (e.g. linuxchix) - provided they behave civilly.

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