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Re: The prevailing Debian culture

[Caution: words not minced.]

On Wed, Aug 18, 2004 at 07:16:29PM +1000, Jenn Vesperman wrote:
> > But a number
> > of such confrontational interactions in the past have challenged what
> > used to be well established ideas, and thus mitigated against group
> > think; any evolution away from the current norm should consider what
> > would be lost.
> There are ways to have confrontation and challenge group-think without
> being flamefesty or painful to read.

Indeed.  Note that Manoj said nothing about insults or flamefests.  Don't
read things in that aren't there.  Confronting the established mode of
thought doesn't imply being abusive.  But attempts to comprehensively remove
the abusive elements *may*, if not done carefully, remove the open
communication and critical thinking which has helped us so much.

> > This culture of create a solution to meet your own needs, and
> > let the best solution win (suboptimal solutions lose mind share) is
> > one of the major strengths of free software.  We may find, however,
> > that this also engenders a certain competitiveness, especially in
> > grabbing mind share; and you can't totally eliminate one without
> > harming the other.
> Competitiveness .. urk.
> I guess the thing here is that while competition brings out the best in
> some people, it brings out the worst - or completely suppresses -
> others.
> I'm not saying 'stop doing things your way', I'm saying only 'ok, fine,
> so a competition based culture works for you - please don't assume it
> works for everyone'.

But if competition actually works for Debian, *why* would we possibly want
to change it?  I'm all for changing things that I think don't help us and
which suppress useful contributions -- like abusive and idiotic behaviour --
and flattening the learning curve where possible, but you will get the fight
of your life out of me if you try to change the things that make Debian so

A large part of the Debian culture *works*, and works well, and the chances
of producing a net gain from changing Debian's fundamental method of
operation to obtain the contributions of a largely unknown group is small,
and I'm certainly not about to sacrifice the Project to try it.  If you
really want to try producing a Linux distribution with a fundamentally
different outlook, I encourage you to try it.  It would make a very
interesting study into the core requirements of a distributed volunteer
software development project.  But Debian is not the place to try that.

I see the purpose of this group as being an aid to smoothing out some of the
wrinkles in Debian to help more people contribute, not as a means of totally
remaking the core of Debian.  The potential benefits just aren't worth the

- Matt

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