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Re: List/IRC climate issues (was: What do you want to learn?)

On Wed, 2004-08-04 at 17:34, Matthew Palmer wrote:

> Do you mean that getting involved in Debian in some way is daunting?  Or
> that approaching a Debian Developer you have done work with and who knows
> your abilities is daunting?
> They have very different causes and resolutions.

If there was a Debian Developer who I'd done work with and knew my
abilities, I wouldn't be daunted to approach them. :)

I have never actually investigated contributing to the Debian project,
so all I know of the process is what I've been hearing from other

> > Nor do I know anyone in the Debian community (or more accurately, I
> > don't know that I know anyone in it), so I wouldn't be choosing someone
> > with any foreknowledge of how working with them would be.
> I think you're approaching this at the wrong end of the process, then.  NM
> advocacy is supposed to be a DD who knows you and your work thinks you're
> ready, and advocates you.  In other words, you've got to have done something
> already *before* you get advocated.  Hence you'll already know a DD before
> you go look for an advocate.

Ah. The impression I had was that *before* you could provide
contributions more significant than bug reports, you had to go through
this whole daunting process.

> As far as finding something to do, well, you need to work that out on your
> own.  What do you want to do?  There's not a lot of point in giving someone
> an @debian.org account if they're not going to do anything.  You can do
> nothing without being a DD.  Find something to get involved with.

Right now, 'something to get involved with' is actually LinuxChix. :)
I've committed myself to things to do there.

I don't want an @debian.org account. I was just confused about the
process of contributing. :(

> I'll make an offer: if you tell me what you want to do for Debian (in fairly
> general terms will do, just so I've got some idea) I will describe how you
> can go about doing that without leaving yourself a target for the
> small-minded bigots who inhabit the darker corners of our little world.

That would be very useful. Once my plate is a bit clearer, I'll take you
up on it.
Right now, if I started trying to do things, I'd wind up letting down
either LinuxChix or Debian, and that's not fair.
> That offer applies to anyone on this list -- if you tell me how you want to
> help, I'll point you to resources and friendly people who will help, to the
> absolute best of my ability.

A handsome offer. :) Thanks.

> I'm sure we lose not just women by doing that, but what would you like done? 
> Censure them for one idiotic outburst?  Two?  Three strikes and you're out? 
> Things don't work like that.

If your goal is to get rid of the abusive idiot, then yes, you're right
- things don't work that way.
If your goal is to make it clear to the victim(s) and bystanders that
the idiot is behaving idiotically and that their behaviour is not part
of the main culture - then it's very different.

A simple, public, 'Please do not use language like that' or 'This is not
the place for that', backed up with a temporary kick/ban if they
persist, goes a long way to assuring the rest of the group that the
idiot is a one-off, not the main culture.

> Problem number 1: there is often *nobody* that $generic_idiot would listen
> to.  Even someone who is normally on s/h/it's side would be ignored if they
> tried to tell s/h/it to shut up.  From personal experience, banning them
> doesn't help, either -- if they really want, they can easily route their
> message in some other manner to get it through.

I know. That's one reason Linuxchix uses a separate IRC network where we
control the servers. :(

> > My response is 'do you only want people who check you out despite having
> > heard bad reports, or would you like to have good reports?'
> I would actually prefer people who checked us out regardless of reports,
> good, bad, or otherwise, and didn't rely on second-hand knowledge.  It's
> easy to get a false report (whether it be falsely good or falsely bad)
> through no fault of one's own.  Even easier to have one small but vocal
> sub-group create a bad impression.  And there is basically nothing that
> anyone can do about them.  Ignoring them makes it look as though we support
> them, shouting at them makes them shout louder (the arms race of noisy
> wankers), and banning them will, sooner or later, kill the community.

How will banning them kill the community? I expect it would make the
community stronger, and more welcoming to actually useful people.

> Basic survival skill, in Debian, online, and in larger life: ignore anyone
> who annoys you.  They can only get to you if you let them.

The problem there is that the easiest way to ignore them is to not be
where they are. There's plenty of useful, valuable, necessary things I
can do for the world that don't involve being around annoying people.

I know I sound like I'm being deliberately obstructive. I think my point
here is that you (the Debian community) have a choice to make: do you
want the loud abusive idiots, or do you want the people who avoid places
that have loud abusive idiots?

LinuxChix chose the latter - in fact, we have to if we're going to
fulfil our purpose. We've found that once you figure out the methods,
it's almost self-sustaining.
We have enough men who come to us solely because of our climate (rather
than 'to help support women in open source') that I'm tempted to fork
the project and produce a gender non-specific generic Linux support
group using the idiot-baulking techniques. I just don't have the time or
the bandwidth. :/

But .. well. That's what it boils down to. The real world doesn't let an
organisation say 'we're welcoming, just ignore the idiots'. If you let
them stick around, you lose people because of them. 
It's a matter of choosing which people you welcome.

Jenn V.
    "Do you ever wonder if there's a whole section of geek culture 
        	you miss out on by being a geek?" - Dancer.
   My book 'Essential CVS': published by O'Reilly in June 2003.
jenn@anthill.echidna.id.au     http://anthill.echidna.id.au/~jenn/

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