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

Re: I hereby resign as secretary

On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 10:18:04AM -0800, John H. Robinson, IV wrote:
> That is when Ian pointed out to me how true that was in the Linux
> community. I wonder if Debian is exemplifying this behavior. A lot of
> good people have retired lately.
> It is starting to feel like that block of homes that has one too many
> For Sale signs. Why is everyone leaving? What is so bad about the area?
> What do they know that I don't?

Well, I haven't left, but I do far less with Debian now than I used

It is still my preferred OS for a variety of reasons.  I probably
shouldn't write this tired at 11:30PM, but here goes.

I get no joy whatsoever out of the current mailing list discussions.
It is sad to see people arguing so bitterly about pedantic matters in
constitutions and guidlines and policy when that stuff is NOT why
we're here.  We're here to make a Free operating system, dammit.
People that are not here to make a Free operating system shouldn't be

Our community is being fractured by poisonous people.  They are
destroying our project, running off the people that like to code and
contribute, leaving behind those coders that can tolerate things and
the rest of the poisonous people.  We as a project have failed, over
and over and over again, to learn this simple lesson:

  A poisonous person is never worth it.

Either we turn the person non-poisonous, or make that person go away.
It doesn't matter of the person maintains
$IMPORTANT_PACKAGE_OR_SERVICE; if they are destroying the community,
their harm outweighs their good.

We have gotten rid of a couple of high-profile poisonous people over
the last couple of years, but we took far too long to do it.  We need
to realize that social skills matter, and that a project this size
cannot function without politeness, respect, trust, and humility.
(Shamelessly lifted from Ben Collins-Sussman).  I am tired of hearing
the free speech argument in the face of getting rid of poisonous
people.  Debian is not a vehicle for vitriol; they can perfectly well
set up a blog for it.


should be required reading.  Read that and see how many things you
recognize from Debian.  It's scary, and we're doing almost nothing about it,
which is scarier.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4216011961522818645 for the video

(Those are by Ben Collins-Sussman and Brian Fitzpatrick, some of the
svn guys)

I have considered leaving the project several times this year.  The
fun of being a Debian developer went away long ago.  I maintain
packages for my own utility now, at home and at work, and that's it.

The fun will be back if Debian starts being a large community of
friends again, instead of a large community of pedantic trolls.

Manoj, though in a job that requires a pedant, and someone I've had
more than one argument with, is one of the people I'd consider a
friendly face around Debian.  Those of you that have maltreated him
owe him and this project a huge apology, but I doubt you will be
mature enough to provide one.  Those of you that coddle poisonous
people also owe the project a huge apology.  

Debate ideas and proposals vigorously, but don't attack the proposer.
Debate ballots if you must, but leave out the name-calling.  Heck,
debate the actions of poisonous people and what to do about it, but
even then, we need not use ad hominem attacks.

We are too big to let this continue.  We will fail if it does.  I for
one do not want to see this project fracture into FreeDebian,
NetDebian, OpenDebian, Debian/OS, and Ubuntu.  Or go the way of... Yggdrasil.

One bright spot is that I think there are fewer poisonous people in
positions of authority in Debian now than in many points in its
history.  We have a great leadership team, including ftpmasters,
listmasters, release managers, secretary, SPI board, translators,
system admins, DPLs, etc. and I am amazed at the amount of crap they
put up with in order to do thankless tasks.  Even though I don't agree
with everything you do, I've got to say: great job.  You guys do a job
I would never want, day in and day out, and take lots of crap in the
process.  Thanks for making this project possible.

Now if only we could say positive things about people BEFORE they
resign, wouldn't this be a better place?

-- John


Reply to: