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Re: Pledge To Killfile Andrew Suffield

On 8/9/05, Matthew Garrett <mgarrett@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
> Michael K. Edwards <m.k.edwards@gmail.com> wrote:
> > The notion of a "pledge to killfile" Andrew is thoroughly juvenile.  I
> > am probably as guilty (if that is the word) as anyone of negatively
> > critiquing his conduct on public Debian lists; but I would be
> > horrified to see him censored.
> Nobody has proposed censoring Andrew. People are simply stating that
> they will stop listening to him. Would you deny them that freedom?

Andrew *plonk*ed me in public some months ago, and has advocated from
time to time that others killfile me; while I have been less than
impressed, I have felt that he was within his rights to do so.  Where
the proposed "pledge to killfile" disturbs me (at first blush; I have
no access to debian-private, so I know no details) is the implication
that pledging is _for_the_Project's_sake_ and not just a personal
agreement that he's not worth listening to.  Presumably pledgers will
be chidden for replying to his messages, essentially ostracising him
from participating usefully in the public lists while leaving it to
non-pledgers to rebut what are likely to become increasingly bitter
and frustrated snipes from the fringe.  That is one of the crueler
(and more self-defeating) forms of censorship.

> > Surely, even if every unkind thing I have seen written about him were
> > true (and much of it is not), Debian is strong enough to handle this
> > aspect of his involvement with equanimity.
> There comes a point where the negative aspects of someone's
> contributions grossly outweigh the positive ones. Andrew contributes
> very little of any direct benefit to the project, but has a talent for
> stimulating pointless argument. In that respect, I'd put him in the same
> sort of catagory as Jonathan Walther.

I think that's an exaggeration of his negative conduct (Andrew is IMHO
is frequently a jerk but not, in my experience, a troll) and a
dismissal of his contributions (on debian-legal, he's usually pretty
accurate in assessing past discussion of an issue, sometimes even with
citations, and has been known to comment incisively).  But in any
case, if you think Andrew is a problem and you want to drum him out of
the project, do it in public view and take the consequences.

> > Nor as far as I know is there any indication that he has
> > mishandled any responsibility as a DD or has been seen by anyone
> > outside Debian to reflect poorly on the Project in any substantial
> > way.
> Perhaps you should speak to more users? Andrew certainly has a
> reputation outside the developers, and it's not a good one.

You will get no disagreement from me there.  But that's different from
mishandling DD responsibilities or reflecting poorly on the Project. 
Flaming some poor sod who asks a stupid question in broken English on
debian-project isn't all that great, but it's not all that substantial
either.  The most that I know of that might be held against him is the
odd flame in a changelog entry, and I don't think a sophisticated
observer would take that to reflect ill on anyone but himself.

- Michael

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