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Re: Welcome to DW (was: Re: DW (was: Re: [gnome-women] Getting a Web Site Up & Logo Contest status)

On Mon, Aug 15, 2005 at 12:36:40PM +0600, || स्वक्ष || svaksha  wrote:

> Each and every one of us has a *real life* outside of FLOSS and other
> volunteerism and the only common thread stringing us together is the
> philosophical ideology, good work and interest in FSF/GNU.

I don't believe this is true.  While each of us certainly does bring to the
table our own local cultural background, and as a result Debian is far from
having any sort of monoculture, there *is* a shared "work culture" in Debian
with unique features of its own.  Some of its features include:

- You don't Cc: people on mailing list replies unless they request it.
- You don't mess with another maintainer's package without letting them know
  first what's going one.
- You have no right to make demands of how other people spend their time.
- You have no right to block someone else from fixing an issue you have
  chosen not to work on (provided that there is agreement that it's an issue
  and that it can be fixed, that is).
- It is impolite to disappear for long periods of time without letting the
  project know you will be gone.

There are also some cultural artifacts present in Debian which not everyone
agrees are a good idea and at least some people are hoping to change, such

- When you disagree with a decision and the people who made it don't
  actually want your opinion, declare that a Cabal is responsible.
- When someone in a position of responsibility juggles multiple tasks and
  fails to handle one of these tasks as quickly as you want them to, loudly
  insist that this, too, is a sign of a cabal.
- Flaming and ridiculing people on mailing lists is a greater good than
  advancing technical discussions.

Now, there are plenty of other traits which I identify with Debian culture
as *I* experience it, but it's hard for me, with the perspective of only a
single person, to draw a line between bits that are part of a globally
shared Debian culture and those that are the result of my own projections
and of a culture that I externally share with those I interact with
regularly.[1]  Nevertheless, the fact is that Debian has more than a decade
of history as a community, and it's more than a little arrogant for any
newcomer to this community to expect that Debian is going to meet their
personal culture halfway.

Heck, I'm sure that even I waited until about 6 months after becoming a DD
before I started to try to coerce others into changing their behavior...

> Besides that, choosing to participate in a particular community is
> mostly a free choice, cutting across cultural, language and national
> barriers. This basic fact must be respected at all times.

> IMHO, expecting people from other different cultures to change their
> behaviour/culture, etc... to conform to ones own expectations or
> behavioural patterns is a highly inflexible attitude.

An important factor in successfully getting along in a multicultural project
like Debian is to make an effort to recognize *others'* cultural
expectations, and avoid deliberately offending your interlocutor.  It's a
lot easier to consciously modify how one expresses oneself than it is to
modify one's culturally ingrained reaction to an offense given, and by
cultural standards that Erinn and I share (I'll let someone else figure out
if this is a shared *Debian* culture, or a shared *American* culture), what
Clytie did was *very* rude.  Not because she didn't approach the issue
head-on (that would just make her ineffective), but because she made
disparaging comments about this group publically to others *instead* of
approaching it head-on.

Regardless of the terms Erinn may have used to describe this behavior, if
people aren't able to acknowledge that offense was given here (intentionally
or not), I hardly think they're in a position to criticize others for having
inflexible attitudes about culture.

And BTW, of all cultures I have ever encountered, the one invariant that
appears to transcend them all is that they are *all* xenophobic on some
level.  It's only *learning* that bridges the gap between cultures; cultures
themselves are useless for this.  Something to think about before trumpeting
the virtues of unconditional respect for cultures...

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
vorlon@debian.org                                   http://www.debian.org/

[1] Right, so um, cue Biella or something. ;)

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