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Re: Debian -- the best

On Fri, 19 Dec 2008 11:43:32 +0100
Michael Hanke <michael.hanke@gmail.com> wrote:

> for some reason I am subscribed to debian-devel and even try to read
> most of the posts. I guess I do that to stay in touch with the most
> recent developments, but it is also I fairly good indicator of the
> projects climate ... which seems to be getting colder ...

debian-devel exists to sort out problems, identify fixes and generally
raise issues amongst a variety of Debian developers. Big issues,
controversial issues (like removal of gtk1.2) and technical
disagreements between developers need to be aired somewhere and -devel
is that place. (Personal disagreements are something else entirely -
some say those should be on -private). A list that concentrates on
problems, disagreements and controversy is always going to have a
certain amount of negativity.
> But I cannot understand _why_ this is happening. Posts in the thread
> started by the resignation of our secretary (but, in fact, also
> countless times before) have speculated that it might be due to an
> unfortunate (self-)selection of people generating most traffic on the
> major mailing lists, preferably about supposed-to-be-negative aspects
> of this project. What can be done?

Ignore such threads. It sounds simple, but the idea that an argument is
"won" just because you were the last person to feed the troll is
complete bunkum. Continuing a pointless (or kindergarten) thread only
diminishes the sender. When a thread departs from technical issues
and drowns in personal abuse, don't contaminate yourself with the
hassle of replying. More people will respect you if you ignore personal
abuse and limit replies to technical concerns.

One way is to separate *reading* email from *replying* to email. I
try to mark messages in my email client as potentially warranting a
reply, then continue reading all the rest of my email and only coming
back to the marked messages some (considerable) time later. At all
costs, avoid any knee-jerk reaction because it merely makes you into
the next jerk.

It doesn't always work, but it is worth trying.
> I believe that the Debian project (not just the OS it produces) is an
> outstanding and unique example of what can be jointly achieved by
> people from a huge range of cultural backgrounds, access to monetary
> ressources and types (or sources) of motivation. Given the reality on
> this planet, the sheer existance of the project after so many years
> is so unlikely that Hollywood should think about a movie. I am really
> proud to be able to contribute my bits to Debian.

Pride can be a trap - be careful lest your pride-and-joy gets a
side-swipe from someone. Those are the times when the knee-jerk jerks
will be hardest to silence.

Thanks for the positivity, nonetheless.
> Debian can be considered the optimal environment for brain imaging
> research (compared to all other possible operating systems).

That is good news - good enough to be made very, very public.

> You cannot make people try the universal OS if it doesn't run on their
> hardware. 

:-) See www.emdebian.org 

> I'd love if the feeling while reading -devel would become a bit more
> similar to the one I get when using the OS.

Not sure about that - I think -devel will continue to host a series of
"full and frank discussions". My hope is that we can collectively
ignore the kindergarten threads and avoid knee-jerk jerks. People who
start or contribute to such threads deserve to be ignored. Those who
seek to "make a name for themselves" by sounding off with previously
discarded and unoriginal ideas, baseless or personal accusations,
deliberate misunderstandings of cultural differences and personal abuse
ought to realise that the name they are making for themselves is "jerk".

The way to make a name for yourself is by doing something of technical
merit (like fixing bugs).


Neil Williams

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