Hi Stefano, Russ and everyone,|
thanks for your interest in this topic. I entirely agree that we should do better in this area. Since the discussion problem is not specific to debian-devel, I'm moving this to debian-project.
Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:
On Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 10:11:23AM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote: > Given recent experiences, I'm also coming around to Ian's position that > aggressive and confrontational contributions from people who don't > otherwise seem to be contributing to Debian are part of the problem and > are not useful, and possibly should be banned. I think that's been a > significant factor in the deterioration of the init system threads. I agree that's a problem too and I share your feeling that it has been particularly bad in recent discussions like the init system ones. To look on the bright side, the problem seems concentrated in a few specific topics rather than widespread to all discussions. But it is still probably enough to keep some people from participating constructively on -devel, which is a pretty serious problem. > I want our technical discussions to be welcoming to anyone who has > information to share and who can bring additional clarity and insight to > the discussion. But once things start getting heated or people start > throwing around accusations or verge towards personal attacks, there's a > real psychological difference between people who are contributing to > Debian and people who aren't. <snip> Agreed also on your reasoning about the psychological effects of non constructive participation by non contributors. Unfortunately, there aren't many viable solutions to this kind of issues and all have drawbacks. 1) our current solution: "don't feed the troll" (even though the list participations we're talking about are not, strictly speaking, trolling", that's basically our strategy) It just doesn't work at this scale. Sure, those who do respect the principle do reduce the noise (as Bernhard pointed out), but you'll always have someone who will reply --- maybe because they're new and accustomed to the list culture --- and it is enough to have a few who do the feeding to make a discussion explode and drive away people from it and, ultimately, decisions. 2) "don't feed the troll" + report abuses to listmasters and act accordingly I think we basically agree on the principle of this and IIRC we've even discussed this about ~1 year ago without finding much opposition. But either we're not doing this or it is not working. Some of problems with this have been highlighted by Raphael. The proposed fix, specifically for the "I don't know if I'm alone doing this or not" part, sounds interesting. But even with that fix, you still have the social awkwardness problem: the feeling is that of "censoring" someone and it's a hard to ignore feeling, because the act of doing that is much more concrete than the perception of the long term benefits of doing so. I've the impression that the bar for silencing someone will always remain high, higher than what would be needed to avoid the behavior we're discussing. Another problem you'll have with this "solution" is that it consumes a lot of community energy (the people reporting bad behavior, who will do that only after reaching some high frustration level; and the listmasters who'll need to put time and emotions in judging the behavior, implementing and probably explaining the "sanction"). 3) public, but contributors-only list This has been implemented by other FOSS projects. A notable example is Ubuntu who have a split between ubuntu-devel (project members only + whitelisting) and ubuntu-devel-discuss (free for all). I've never asked, but I have always suspected that they've done so in an attempt to improve over the experience of debian-devel participants. The obvious drawback of this "solution" is that non-contributors will need someone to vouch for them to be whitelisted. ---------- Each solution have advantages and disadvantages, but all in all I don't think there aren't many other options. The question is blunt then: what are we willing to give up of the current model in order to improve over its defects?
There are many more approaches possible, and they can be combined.
Improving what we write (educating)