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Re: Social Committee proposal

I am AGAINST the formation of a powerful social committee at this time.
Broadly, I share the concerns of Manoj Srivastava, but I disagree
about giving them enough rope to hang themselves.

This email replies to Josip Rodin, Steve Langasek and Patrick Frank.

Josip Rodin <joy@entuzijast.net> wrote: [...]
> Also, the social committee shouldn't necessarily effect *reforms*. It might
> as well evolve into a reactionary entity that aims to maintain the existing
> social order in Debian. But that's beside the point. The point is that we
> don't have any group doing any organized thinking about these matters.

That, in a nutshell, is my complaint against this draconian social
engineering proposal.  It would be a powerful loose cannon on deck,
which could punish whole swathes of WASP developers, or (more likely
IMO) could further support majority prejudices, or something else. I am
fearful because of things like the outright disdain for the suggestion
that DDs should approve the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This isn't even as clear-cut as an east/west or A/B cultural
difference.  Even among the cultures most-represented among DDs,
developers seem to be atypical of those cultures as a whole.

If the point truly is that we don't have any group doing any organized
thinking about this, then form such a group, but don't empower it yet.

> Umm, what? You do realize by the amount of my participation, or rather the
> lack thereof, that I barely ever looked at the Sven Luther discussions that
> caused this latest commotion? Please let's not resort to semi-random cheap
> shots.

You do realise that other DDs do not generally install keyloggers or
other monitoring software on your -private mailbox and so cannot tell
how much you looked at the Sven Luther discussions?  Please don't
resort to cheap shots.  Just answer the question.

I think "Umm, what?" is rather rude - see comments below about register.

Steve Langasek <vorlon@debian.org> asked:
> Why do you think the establishment of a "social committee" would have any
> bearing at all on whether you're subject to a tyranny of the majority where
> cultural norms are concerned?

Because recent experience suggests that if one has a sufficiently
tough brass neck, one can choose to withstand the lynch mob until it
gets totally oversize and sustained.

I believe that there should be some lesser process than expulsion for
resolving problems with developers, but I do not believe that a new
"social committee" would be a good way to create that.  It would be
better to reform some of the existing posts and make their actions
less binary and secretive.

"Patrick Frank" <paddy.frank@gmail.com> wrote:
> [...] And that amazing enough, most problems appear to be between people
> who share the same culture, even the same country.

It is not safe to assume that sharing the same country means that
people share the same culture.  There are cultural influences which
are likely to be common, but that's not the same.  If I forget who I'm
talking to and address a random Englishman as "me duck"... well!

> And if you boil most problems down to one simple cause, it is not culture,
> it is personality and social abilities, or lack thereof. [...]

I agree.  As the audience gets wider, one's register must change, or
one must decide to 'take the hit' of being misunderstood more often.

I've heard that geographically diverse Arabic-speakers can sometimes
best communicate through Arabic as written in ancient texts.  In
English, we are fortunate that the US diverged only since around the
1700s and has had frequent enough interaction that modern English is
mostly mutually intelligible.  Not always (compare "table (a
proposal)") and maybe small differences are more jarring.

That said, it is simply impossible to second-guess everyone's reaction
and sometimes both sender and recipients need to deal with that.

Josip Rodin <joy@entuzijast.net> wrote:
> [...] (Before anyone says "but this is also a reasonable
> forum for discussion", I will just remind that this is a 694-member
> mailing list, just think about that a bit...)

The problem is not the total of 694 members.  It's the behaviour of
the 694 members in total.  Appointing a subset of them is less
beneficial than educating the 694 members in total.  This is a
reasonable forum for discussion, but it needs to be led in an open,
transparent and respectful manner.

But that's common for many lists and not a uniquely debian problem.

Hope that explains,
My Opinion Only: see http://people.debian.org/~mjr/
Please follow http://www.uk.debian.org/MailingLists/#codeofconduct

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