[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: ideas regarding a conflict management strategy

"Lars Versen" <sfs.com@gmx.net> writes:

> You are correct that my first E-Mail was very much simplified and
> non-scientifical. I can only describe observations and personal opinion,
> because I am not a scientist. And I am aware of the fact that a certain
> type of personality has more problems to accept opinions of other people
> than others, especially if the opinion does not seem scientifically
> proven.

I personally didn't see anything in your original message that was
sufficiently novel to reach questions of whether people would accept your
opinions or not.  To generally paraphrase, what I got from your message is
that people should be nice to each other, aggressive responses may hurt
people or make them feel attacked, and mediating largely consists of
finding ways to get people to talk to each other constructively.

There isn't a lot to respond to in that.  I think all of those points are
obviously true, at least at the level of generality with which they were
stated.  I'm not sure what there is to be accomplished by restating them.
I doubt there is anyone reading this list who hasn't heard the same things
many times before.

> I heard Debian Developers say about Ian Murdock that he talks out of his
> skull and that he has to shut up. And their justification was that he
> only studied economy and trade instead of physics. Which makes it a
> fundamental problem for the Debian project, because that spirit is
> poisoned.

If you're referring to the recent discussion about Debian Planet carrying
Ian Murdock's blog, I think what's going on here is substantially more
complex than you're implying.  I think a lot of the negative reaction
towards Ian's recent blog postings is tribalism, an instinct as old as
humanity.  Ian is now actively pushing OpenSolaris over Debian, and
whether one agrees with him or not, it's a natural human tendency to want
to defend one's own community over advocacy from a different community.  I
highly doubt Ian's surprised at that sort of reaction, or that he really
needs anyone else to defend him.  No, it's not particularly productive to
react that way, but it's not, in the grand scheme of things, one of the
social problems that I'd tackle first.  Note that plenty of people spoke
up here to defend the value of hearing what he has to say even if he's
advocating a different community.

> Also in that context a similar point of criticism: no actionable content
> provided yet

> I had reasons why I dont fill the pipe with E-Mails that contain 20
> pages long efforts if the expectation is pretty hostile feedback.

As you can see, posting generalities didn't really fare much better.

Personally, I don't think one can solve social problems by having general
discussions about social skills or abstract conversations about how
mediation works.  I think most of the discussions like this, either here
or on debian-private, are largely a waste of time.  Most social change
comes from leading by example, participating in the community, treating
other people the way you think everyone should be treated, and building
the sort of constructive communities that you want to see in the packaging
teams in which you're contributing.  A small amount of that accomplishes
far more than all the debian-project threads about how people should do
this and should do that.  People tend to react poorly to being told what
they should do, and react positively to being treated with respect.

I'm not opposed to the idea of a social committee, but I think it would
succeed to an extent directly proportional to the degree to which it dealt
directly with specific situations and practical solutions and enabled
conversation about the actual problems rather than meta-conversation about
problem-solving.  If I were looking for how to form such a committee, I'd
try to find people with past experience running successful teams and
mediating disagreements, the people that other people in Debian say things
like "he's great to work with" or "she's always been helpful and
supportive" about.  The people will matter a lot more than the structure.

> And scientifical or not - the ability to feel empathy can be learned.

I agree.  However, I don't think Debian's going to teach it, except
possibly indirectly and in the same way that any interactions with other
people can teach empathy if people are open to learning it.

Empathy isn't something that's taught so much as it's something that one
individually decides to learn.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

Reply to: