Re: List/IRC climate issues (was: What do you want to learn?)
On Fri, Aug 06, 2004 at 12:42:42AM +1000, Jenn Vesperman wrote:
> On Thu, 2004-08-05 at 12:36, Matthew Palmer wrote:
> > > I don't want an @debian.org account. I was just confused about the
> > > process of contributing. :(
> > Identify something you think needs your attention, and attack it. If you
> > don't see anything that you particularly want fixed in Debian, then there's
> > no need to contribute.
> Hrm. Are there still packages whose 'man' page is some version of 'this
> man page will just point you to $otherdocumentationsource and only
> exists because Debian folks insist on having a man page'?
> If there are, that's one thing that annoys me when I find it. And I
> write decent docs....
You've found something that itches you. Write up a decent manpage and
submit it as a bug against the package. Hopefully the maintainer will
Just to belabour the point: having/not having a debian.org account will have
no effective difference on the resolution of a problem like this, unless you
go nuts and NMU or hijack the package (neither of which are likely to win
you any friends, so let's disregard that). It's the maintainer's decision
to incorporate the manpage out of the bug report, and (DD/non-DD
discrimination on the part of the maintainer aside) bug reports from DDs
don't get any sort of priority treatment.
And yes, there are *still* plenty of binaries without manpages. I may well
have some in my packages (I don't think so, since I tend to lean fairly
heavily on manpages myself, so I probably would have noticed).
> > > How will banning them kill the community? I expect it would make the
> > > community stronger, and more welcoming to actually useful people.
> > If you've banned one person for being a twit, then it's a lot easier to ban
> > the next person who annoys a couple of people. Then when someone loses
> > their temper a bit and goes on a bit of a tirade, you decide that they're
> > ban-worthy.
> > You can remove the possibility of getting lynched by carefully analysing
> > everything you write for possible offensiveness to someone or other, but
> > that gets to be no fun, and everyone leaves except for the ultra-obsessive
> > few who get their rocks off doing that.
> I read through this, and responded below. At this stage, all I can say
> is 'it doesn't work that way for LinuxChix', which is kind of unhelpful.
I've seen it happen a couple of times. Might have been because of an overly
heavy-handed manner in dealing with the problem, but you can smell the fear.
> I can express some of the rules we've found for having serious debates
> on high-stress issues, with minimal tirade-ness:
> 1. The One Rule that Rules Them All: Be polite, be helpful.
> 2. Corrolory (sp?): Argue the Issue, Not the Person.
Nice rules, and I fully agree with them. But absent voluntary compliance or
some form of enforcement, they're pretty toothless. It's not the people who
will naturally comply with those rules that you're trying to stop...
> When these rules are broken once or twice, the list admin mails the
> person privately and nudges them gently. They're reminded that the
> debate itself is fine, but that their phrasing is coming across as
> neither polite nor helpful. (Note: benefit of the doubt.)
> If the rules are consistently broken, even after being reminded, the
> person usually gets put on moderation. They can still debate, they just
> have their phrasing checked by a third party before it reaches the list.
This probably works OK for LinuxChix because (presumably) they're fairly
low-volume lists. I, for one, would never volunteer to moderate d-devel,
and I don't think you'll find too many people willing to do so. Even in
non-flamewar mode (which I'm assuming would never happen because we squash
the flamewars before they start) the list is pretty high-volume and diverse
Note, also, that there is something of this nature already happening on
Debian lists -- I've been told I'm being unhelpful by other list
participants privately, and I've heeded that warning. But if I don't, the
next step is moderation, which you're not going to get volunteers for in a
hurry. With Debian's open posting policy (which I fully agree with and
support) it's not even trivial to get around the moderation...
Note, also, that private "shut the hell up" messages don't solve your other
point -- of the group being *seen* to be self-moderating. Absent a public
"I'm sorry" message from the original poster, all you (as another list
subscriber) will see is the smoke with no firefighters around it. Even
though the flame has been put out privately, you've got no way of knowing
> Of course, Debian is a tad higher profile than LCX. :)
Higher volume, too. There are a number of lists for which a system like
this would work (d-mentors probably being amongst them) but the lists that
people seem most afraid to go into -- d-devel, d-legal, and so on -- are too
high volume or sensitive to be moderated -- even pseudo-moderated.
Debian-legal, for instance, could never go moderated -- there's too many
accusations of "private club" already. Having a moderator (who would, one
would presume, be chosen from amongst the respected contributors on the
list) would only serve to enhance accusations of false consensus and so on.
A message containing 99% flame and 1% genuine "This is why I think this is a
bad idea" is likely to be dropped, but the poster will almost certainly
complain that their valid argument against whatever they're against was
moderated by the d-legal cabal.
Oops, sorry, got a bit carried away there...
> > > 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.
> > Well, if you can work out some way to retro-fit a dickhead filter onto
> > Debian, please let us know.
> I'll give 'how it works for LinuxChix' more thought. Right now, all I
> can say is 'it doesn't work that way for us' .. and that's no help at
I think it might work for you because you've naturally gathered less
incindiary people to your group. For some reason, Debian has attracted a
number of cranks and kooks -- some of whom do a lot of very good work in
between flaming tirades. In some cases, it would take a *lot* of
(average-level contributing) level-headed volunteers to take over all of the
work they do, and I don't think we'd get that many volunteers for the roles
-- especially ones which are natural targets for the flamers.
LinuxChix probably doesn't have the pre-existing culture of Debian to try
and modify, either. Nor the depth of technical knowledge required to do a
lot of the work, and hence a lower barrier of entry to high-level
contributions (like DAM, ftp and archive maintenance, release management,
and even maintenance of large, complex packages like the kernel, X, glibc,
and so on).
> > > 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.
> > OK, how do we get rid of the Krooger-troll without outright banning it?
> > Arguing with it or telling it to go away just makes it froth more, and
> > likewise telling everyone else to ignore it doesn't work.
> I missed the Krooger-troll.
As in, you didn't see it, or you'd like it back? It's in the archives, but
be prepared to either get very mad or laugh very hard.
> If the list software allows, shove it on moderation? :)
I think that smartlist allows per-subscriber moderation, but the open-posting
policy and a general feeling against censorship would make moderation a
less-than-entirely-appealing proposition, even if you found people
trustworthy and crazy enough to want to volunteer for it. Being a moderator
is kind of like being DAM -- you're painting a target on yourself for every
malcontent around, but you can't lose your stack otherwise you'll be seen to
be just another ordinary person, which you're not supposed to be, because
you're a Gatekeeper.