Gentoo Archives: gentoo-dev

From: Ryan Reich <ryan.reich@×××××.com>
To: gentoo-dev@l.g.o
Subject: [gentoo-dev] Re: ML changes
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2007 22:02:43
1 Mike Doty wrote:
2 >All-
3 >
4 >We're going to change the -dev mailing list from completely open to where only
5 >devs can post, but any dev could moderate a non-dev post. devs who moderate in
6 >bad posts will be subject to moderation themselves. in addition the
7 >gentoo-project list will be created to take over what -dev frequently becomes.
8 > there is no requirement to be on this new list.
9 >
10 >This will probably remove the need for -core(everything gets leaked out anyway)
11 >but that's a path to cross later.
12 >
13 >We're voting on this next council meeting so if you have input, now would be
14 >the time.
15 >
16 >--taco
18 As a user rather than a dev I waited to respond to this until I saw
19 some of the discussion, since I'm new to Gentoo culture. Most opinion
20 seems to have been extremely negative, along the lines of "This will
21 kill Gentoo because it will alienate the users", together with some
22 very defensive responses from supporters, and a few who don't seem to
23 care at all. I was also originally quite negative about it, but
24 rereading the statement I have come to see some merits in the general
25 idea. Developers (who are required to read the list and for whose
26 continued collaboration and productivity it exists) should have the
27 ability to banish non-developers who abuse their subscriptions to make
28 technical discussions personal. This is only reasonable. However,
29 moderating this list will just place an obstacle in the path of casual
30 user participation and foster a sense of entitlement among the more
31 resentful developers (those would be the ones making claims that
32 Gentoo is not about what devs can do for the users, but merely about
33 everyone serving their own interests).
35 So a better solution would be to adopt the proposal for a
36 developer-moderated blacklist. However, if such powers are expected
37 to be exercised routinely, simply issuing it carte blanche would be
38 ignoring a much larger issue having to do with the quality of the
39 developer community (not to be confused with the larger developer-user
40 community) itself. A good example of a list which follows this sort
41 of policy, and which I also read (skim), is the linux-kernel mailing
42 list, which I consider to be perhaps the optimal open-source
43 developer's list. It has high volume, which people here (and there)
44 sometimes dislike, but that's because they track contributions on the
45 list rather than through Bugzilla, so ignore that aspect. The point
46 is that each and every conversation is on-topic, competent, technical,
47 and very patiently conducted. Even when one developer makes strong
48 (sometimes very strong) remarks it is, as far as I have observed,
49 never met in kind. They bury their egos for the sake of the project,
50 because they are all good at what they do, respected for it, and get
51 enough gratification from their work that they don't need to seek
52 cheap thrills through mailing-list flamewars (indeed, that would
53 detract from their job satisfaction). Stupid, inflammatory, and
54 provocative letters are rarely answered and never develop into
55 flamewars, because no one dignifies them with responses. On very rare
56 occasions I have seen a frivolous conversation (one about some penguin
57 game comes to mind), which reached a surprising saturation before one
58 of the lead developers threatened excommunication to the participants.
59 This is the ONLY time I have ever seen the blacklist powers
60 explicitly exercised, and it completely ended the idiocy. Power
61 exercised with extreme caution will hit twice as hard when it finally
62 comes, because they'll know you mean it.
64 I mention this because it is a pretty high standard, but is in my
65 opinion just about the least you can really expect of a mailing list
66 for a volunteer software development project. If this list
67 degenerates into regular flamewars, it is not the fault of the users;
68 there will always be idiots, but hopefully these people are too
69 self-centered to think of contributing to something like Gentoo.
70 Flamewars are the fault of the developers who participate in them,
71 though no one will like to hear me say this. It's a developer's list
72 and the flamewars wouldn't go anywhere if only a small cabal of lusers
73 stoked them. And from what I've said above, having observed it in the
74 LKML, if developers are doing this it's because they don't respect
75 their work enough, in which case, why do they continue developing?
76 But I've noticed three at least quitting since this discussion
77 started, so maybe they don't. So before you go and moderate the list
78 in any form, think about why at least a few of your number are so
79 immature. Maybe I'm wrong, and they do like their work, but at the
80 very least you should start by making a serious attempt to reform the
81 mailing list culture by pure social pressure before actually
82 implementing a moderation scheme. After all, it's true that users are
83 granted access to this list as a privilege: the privilege of putting
84 in their two cents and thereby contributing to a project that takes
85 itself as seriously as the users apparently take it. The only reason
86 it's desirable to the developers is that it helps them do their job.
87 So impeding the users should (and will) be the last thing this list
88 ever does.
90 --
91 Ryan Reich
92 ryan.reich@×××××.com
93 --
94 gentoo-dev@g.o mailing list