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Re: Disputes between developers - content, draft #4

On Tue, Nov 05, 2002 at 09:39:25PM -0600, Chris Lawrence wrote:
> IMHO this is much more likely to be effective if you first get a
> consensus that there is, in fact, a problem that needs to be dealt
> with.  The posts in the other thread suggest you haven't got such an
> agreement.

Frankly, I think the general tone of discussions on this draft alone
demonstrates that our collective ability to have discussions in a civil
manner leaves a lot to be desired.

Anyway, we already have a mailing list code of conduct, which says such
motherhood-and-apple-pie things as "do not use foul language" and "try
not to flame; it is not polite", yet doesn't seem to be particularly
controversial. Given the number of totally out-of-proportion arguments I
see in the bug tracking system, and the extent to which people use the
facilities of the system as a means of argument ("bug tennis") rather
than as a way to get problems fixed in the best possible way, I do think
that a document suggesting some guidelines for basic courtesy would be

Coming at the bug tracking system from what I'd personally see as common
sense, I would think at least that "leave bugs open while they're being
discussed", "don't inflate severities as a means of expressing how angry
you are", and "if you disagree with someone, try to talk with them about
it and reach consensus" would be common-sense guidelines. However, it's
rare that I see a controversial bug that isn't repeatedly closed,
repeatedly raised to a high severity, or met with the kind of "robust"
debate that causes all parties to be too stressed to reach a sensible

Ian has been keen on getting feedback from the bug tracking system
administrators, and has asked a couple of times now. So far I haven't
tried to respond with that hat on because:

  * there doesn't seem to be anywhere near to the consensus among the
    members of owner@bugs that would be needed to put our "stamp" on a

  * I'm much happier dealing with the technical issues behind the BTS
    than getting into discussions of bug system etiquette, since at
    least the CVS server doesn't flame you unto the seventh generation
    if it disagrees with you;

  * I think it's appropriate for owner@bugs to give advice on how new
    features are expected to be used by means of the BTS documentation,
    but ultimately the project as a whole ought to be deciding how to
    conduct itself when it comes to dispute resolution.

That said, I would love to see us agreeing on some guidelines for not
abusing each other in the midst of what should be technical discussions,
whether they be Ian's, Manoj's, or whoever's. It might just make this
project a more comfortable and productive environment; after all, we're
here with the common cause to create a free operating system, not with
the common cause of winning arguments in a debating society. Surely it
can't be controversial that we should be trying to arrange things such
that we produce the best software we can while burning out as few people
as possible?


Colin Watson                                  [cjwatson@flatline.org.uk]

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