Standing up against verbal abuse

Seriously, Linus?
Kernel hacker Sarah Sharp has stood up against the way of communication common on the Linux Kernel Mailing List. I have quite a few thoughts about this, and I thought I’d share them here. Quoting Sarah:

I’m standing up against verbal abuse on LKML. I will happily stand alone, however you can also support this cause. Please speak up, either here on Google+ by resharing this post, or commenting on this post with words of support. If you dare, you can also reply to my lkml email.

http://marc.info/?l=linux-kernel&m=137390362508794&w=2

Thanks for posting this, Sarah. You’re bringing up an important topic here, which is avoided all too often.

Sarah is completely right, and entitled to demand an abuse-free working environment. Thank you for making this explicit, and standing up against those that think it’s not necessary. You’re speaking for a silent crowd, that is now not so silent anymore.

If people really think they can only be productive when using abusive language, they need a reality check and grow up, especially if these people are highly regarded personalities such as Linus Torvalds. What they do is settings a bad example at best, and being actively harmful and divisive at worst.

I wouldn’t care much if that this abusive behavior were happening in their private living room, but in a public place that is not acceptable. It harms our whole community. It cultivates a macho culture of fat white men, while what we really need is diversity.

Within KDE, we have created a culture of friendliness and mutual respect. We have codified this in a code of conduct, and it has grown into the baseline for making work and leisure in the community more fun and less stressful. It also allows us to grow beyond an in-bred bunch of geeks, and become a diverse team, with the skills needed to not just create Free Software, but to contribute to Free Culture (which I think Free software is part of).

Food for thought: If we want Asian hardware manufacturers to work with us on, e.g. drivers for their hardware, and do it upstream, it simply won’t happen in a rude atmosphere that is entirely incompatible with Asian culture (where critique has to be much more subtile). Of course it’s a general problem with cultural diversity.

66 Responses to “Standing up against verbal abuse”

  1. Benoit says:

    It’s unfortunatly a common behavior in the software world. In my experience, it’s a very tempting reaction when you have project responsabilties and don’t like the behavior of smaller/external people, but it’s of course an important responsability to avoid being aggressive and arrogant. A human software engineer has to behave, especially when he’s a leader…

    But as usual, it does not only happen somewhere, you may also have a look at Aaron’s wording in his own blog (http://aseigo.blogspot.de/2012/11/quicky-update-on-window-grouping.html). The reference to the “anal cavity” is very inappropriate, especially when people try to bring helpful arguments. Positive criticism does not always mean praising and that’s for “famous” developers especially difficult to accept.

    • sebas says:

      I think there’s a distinction to be made between shared and private spaces. Your quote comes from Aaron’s personal blog entry, while Sarah’s request was for more respect on a public mailinglist, a shared space, and the working environment of whole lot of people.

      I don’t care much how he wants the way of discourse to be on his personal blog, but I’d call anybody on his behavior if he used this way of discourse on a public mailing list (a “shared space”).

      • I think that is a quite false distinction – Aaron’s blog is not a private space. A file on your hard drive is private – something published on a blog – especially one where you also publish information of general interest – is just as public as a mailing list.

        Linus has roots in Finland. I understand his views. The culture in the Nordic countries (I am from Norway) is different from the culture in most other countries. If you disagree you can state openly that you disagree, even if it is your manager you disagree with. Say what you will about the friendliness and politeness in Asian cultures, but it becomes a problem when no-one is willing to say that the emperor has no clothes on.

        Do not let the choice of words become more important than the content. Yes, politeness is a good thing – I am not arguing for being impolite. But if I say that a product is shit, and it really is a pile of crap – is the real problem the use of the word shit or the fact that the product is useless or even harmful?

  2. andrez says:

    BTW, here`s response from Linus. And it is far more convincing than the case of Sarah:
    http://marc.info/?l=linux-kernel&m=137392506516022&w=2

    And moreover, this idea of making everybody behave just like someone does is what paves the way to censorship…

    • sebas says:

      The link you post underlines the exact problem. Sarah certainly has a point (it’s inevitable, and her right to be met respectfully). Yet, the first word Linus uses is “bullshit”. I’m sure he did this entirely intentional, but really, he behaves like a dictator (benevolent or not) and overreacts.

      As I write in my reply to your other (rather similar) comment, censorship is about *what* you say, not *how* you say it. Calling it censorship is, therefore, wrong.

      • You basically didnt addressed any Linuses counterpoints a focused on his word bullshit and compared him to dictator way to go you really made an convincing argument

        • sebas says:

          I focused on the general tone, that is not correct, and Linus didn’t provide anything substantial other than a whole lot of email that is entirely useless and even counterproductive to the actual discussion. He seems to derive pleasure from reverse psychology. Being asked to be more polite, and giving a rather impolite answer honestly just loses me, and a lot of other people.

          Except some people, that despite getting tired of this have to read it because it’s their job. I don’t envy them.

          I am employed to work on a Free software project where the tone is a lot nicer, and I honestly couldn’t imagine mustering up the energy to deal with a constant flow of emails like that. It can be funny once in a while, and I wouldn’t really make a big deal out of it if someone occasionally slips, in really bad cases, but I would expect simply more mature behavior from my peers. Just asking for that surely doesn’t deserve being yelled at.

  3. Erik says:

    I agree that “a culture of friendliness and mutual respect” is essential to foster a productive working environment.

    You mention that criticism in Asian culture has to be much more subtle. I’ve also heard that but I don’t have any first-hand experience. I have also heard that the directness that’s normal in German culture can easily be interpreted as rudeness by everyone else. Do you have any suggestions for communicating criticism (e.g. during code review or when critizing a design) in an international project?

    • sebas says:

      Sure. I think the most important aspects are these:

      - criticism should address the problem itself, not the person (“You are an idiot” vs. “Your patch causes a failure in unit test foo”)
      - criticism should be constructive (“This is wrong” vs. “This can be done better in this-and-that way”)
      - criticism ideally comes with a pointer to improve things (“NAK.” vs. “If you can address the failures in the unit tests, we can merge this”)

      On top of that, respect goes a long way to sustain motivation.

      It helps to not only address the negative points, but also point out positives. For example:

      “Thanks for looking into this problem. The solution you found will need a bit of work, however.”

  4. “It cultivates a macho culture of fat white men, while what we really need is diversity.” So those fat white men don’t have a place in your diverse culture anymore? That’s too bad, because those guys laid the cornerstones on which the community is built and without them, there would be nothing. And I’m pretty sure that Linus won’t change his tone just because someone, somewhere, might be offended by his choice of words. And not matter what you say or how you say it, someone, somewhere will ALWAYS be insulted – it’s the human nature.
    I’m grateful that there are still people who don’t want to play the game of political correctness and sugar-coated Walt Disney language and who just frankly speak their mind with words that are strong enough to express it.

    • sebas says:

      This is not about political correctness or sugar coating, it’s about being not entirely disrespectful. It is, in fact about civilized behaviour. Just because someone is respected for his work doesn’t make it OK to use abusive language and ad-hominem attacks. I think Linus is losing touch with reality here, and that’s not a good thing.

      Let’s look at another bit of the thread in question:

      On Fri, 12 Jul 2013 08:22:27 -0700, Linus wrote:
      > Greg, the reason you get a lot of stable patches seems to be that you
      > make it easy to act as a door-mat. Clearly at least some people say “I
      > know this patch isn’t important enough to send to Linus, but I know Greg
      > will silently accept it after the fact, so I’ll just wait and mark it
      > for stable”.
      >
      > You may need to learn to shout at people.

      Seriously, guys? Is this what we need in order to get improve -stable?
      Linus Torvalds is advocating for physical intimidation and violence.
      Ingo Molnar and Linus are advocating for verbal abuse.

      Not *fucking* cool. Violence, whether it be physical intimidation,
      verbal threats or verbal abuse is not acceptable. Keep it professional
      on the mailing lists.

      Let’s discuss this at Kernel Summit where we can at least yell at each
      other in person. Yeah, just try yelling at me about this. I’ll roar
      right back, louder, for all the people who lose their voice when they
      get yelled at by top maintainers. I won’t be the nice girl anymore.

      Sarah Sharp

      (source: http://marc.info/?l=linux-kernel&m=137390362508794&w=2 )

      Sarah is being direct and open here, she’s certainly not being politically correct, neither is she employing Disney Language or sugar coating anything. She is just asking to abstain from violence. Surely, that’s not too much to ask.

      Moreover, nobody is denying fat white men the access to Open Source communities — luckily, I’m overweight, caucasian and male myself. We are also not denying *anybody else* access to Open Source communities. If we did, we’d miss out on the majority of our contributions and we can’t afford that. You’re misinterpreting my argument.

      • Luboš Luňák says:

        Oh, come on.

        The part you quoted and the link just show who’s actually not getting it here. The parts about Greg are just jokes, which gets even more obvious if you follow the link and read the first part of the mail which you skipped. You and Sarah just need your sense-of-humor chip serviced, or maybe you just need to check your facts first and not follow blindly every single whining about people doing wrong to the world.

        Admitedly Linus’ attitude could use an improvements and I didn’t like it that much the single time I was dealing with him about a kernel patch, but this is just ridiculous, and I think I’d still rather deal with the likes of Linus rather than with such political-correctness whiners who are actually the ones that are over-reacting much more.

        • Ihh Nett says:

          100% agree.

          Those are just jokes about Greg being a giant.
          Then there is a hint/a critique that Greg takes too much bad code and that he should be stricter, Sarah isn’t mentioned at all.

          Then she goes on a crusade for some strange reason.

          Linus mostly yells at people who can take it and get well compensated. Maybe he even knows them well and knows that they won’t mind. I don’t know and 99.99% of the people that go on a crusade for some reason don’t know either.

          I haven’t seen Linus calling someone an idiot, fucktard or something in a long time. He tells people to STFU when they are totally wrong and should know better and nearly always he is right.

        • sebas says:

          It’s wrong to reduce the general issue to one single email, I just gave an example to demonstrate that Sarah is definitely not opposing direct and strong language, she is opposing verbal abuse.

          Also, this is not just about you. You can’t expect from everybody taking part to be as thick-skinned as you. That’s a matter of tolerance and civilized behaviour. Your freedom ends where someone else’s begins.

          It has nothing to do with humor, don’t pull up this strawman.

          • Luboš Luňák says:

            If this is not about strawmen, then why did you choose a mail which is _only_ about lack of sense of humor and a completely inappropriate response? If you use flawed arguments, your position is wrong regardless of what it is.

          • sebas says:

            I quoted the email to illustrate that Sarah does not complain about swearwords, that’s why I didn’t quote it in my post, but as a response.

            You seem to confuse that with, for the sake of your argument, me saying that this particular part of the discussion is wrong. My general complaint is about the tone on the LKML.

  5. OhReally says:

    I feel much (MUCH!) more offended by whiners like you, than by strong-worded people like Torvalds.

    But we tolerate you, you tolerate us. Or fuck yourself, grow up, and stop whining. Your choice.

    • sebas says:

      Thanks for your overwhelming display of tolerance! If you ever feel the need for excessive tree-hugging or you want to go on a mission to hunt the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow in teletubbie attire singing kumbayah, let me know and I’ll immediately join you for an extended summer of love!

      • OhReally says:

        As all people who whines because of “verbal abuse”, you confuse “display of tolerance”, with “tolerance”, thus proving my point, thanks.

  6. Robert Forsyth says:

    Also there is a problem of spoken language, in some countries they do not have the concept of swear words. Even within the UK, certain works are taboo in some cultures/regions and normal use in others. In a professional environment talking to clients/suppliers you are not expected to use offensive language – but what is offensive language?

    However, people should be respectful of each other, regardless of language used. The problem is when one deeply held cultural belief infringes on another. A meat eater may find it distressing to see pictures of ill treated animals, when the majority of animals experience high quality husbandry.

  7. So by enforcing censorship we are going to encourage diversity

    • sebas says:

      Except that no one is enforcing censorship. People are simply asking for a civilized conversation, so they can get their work done, rather than wading through piles of profanity in order to extract the actual point.

      • OhReally says:

        Wading through all of this whining is no better anyway, do you understand this?

  8. sadig says:

    Honestly,

    venting, ranting and even using swear words helps everyone to keep you healthy.

    There are so many things, where human beings shouldn’t be polite. They should say what they think.
    I am working with a lot of american people, and I really like them, in a personal view, but what I don’t like is
    that they don’t say what they think. Especially to their superiors.

    I don’t say you need to use colloquial language, but step up and say what’s bugging you.

    And Linus is doing exactly that. I think he sees more crap than we do, and I would go mad, if I would see crap crawling into a code tree which is being used by millions of users.

    IMHO this is the difference between (Western) Europe and other parts of the World. We do speak up, because we are allowed.

    • sebas says:

      Sarah is also using colloquial, direct language and even swear words — that’s not the point. (See my quote a few comments above for a taste.)

      But: If you need to physically threaten someone or employ verbal violence just to stay healthy, you quite simply need professional help.

      Linus has a whole army of people who shield him from crap code. There’s the occasional slip, which maybe is not so occasional. But seriously, just get over it and do your job.

  9. Robert Forsyth says:

    Please disregard my previous post.

    Reading Sarah’s email response, she is trying to stem inappropriate behaviour, and if it is not stopped it will blow-up and cause serious damage; from my (50 years) experience.

  10. In West theres deep individualism whereas in East its Top-Down approach which is not much open source friendly id say

    Anyway ive worked with Asians in this case with South Koreans and let me give you an example how subtle they are:
    Group under production manager screwed something up so every Korean member of production came before him and they were verbally abused before whole office and other departments for fifteen minutes with their heads down and didn’t talked unless spoken to.

    • sebas says:

      This bullying doesn’t work in volunteer-driven communities. The Linux kernel is exceptional in that many people and companies cannot afford to not take part. That brings a certain level of responsibilities with it.

  11. Erik says:

    @andrez: Linus response may be convincing for you, but you do not give any sound reasoning why it should be “far more convincing” for everyone else. It certainly does not convince me.

    I don’t have a problem with directness but I fail to see why it should be ok to curse or swear at people. Rusty Russel’s post ( http://marc.info/?l=linux-kernel&m=137395350322817&w=2 ) is a good summary of my opinion.

    However, I agree with Linus on the point of the phrase “professional behaviour”. “professional behaviour” is a loaded term and not conducive to fruitful discussions in an open-source project. To label behaviour as professional or unprofessional, you need some kind of (perhaps implicity) agreed upon standard. I don’t think that such a thing exists in open-source projects.

    • sebas says:

      It does exist in many projects, and it’s called a code of conduct. A mutual agreement on how to have productive discourse. Here’s an example from the KDE community (note, this is not a top-down thing, it’s what the people itself came up with to further their goals and make their own environment a pleasant one).

  12. andrez says:

    Well, the basic idea is that it is better be cursing but sincere than uber-polite but not really sincere kind of person. And again calling such language “abusive” is a first step to censorship. And I do thank to people who can communicate me somthing in unpolite but blunt manner. It is a way better than “tolerant” people hiding their real intentions behind nice words.

    • sebas says:

      It’s not censorship, because it doesn’t restrict *what* you say, but *how* you do it. I’m also not advocating sticking one’s head into the sands, I am advocating constructive criticism and a productive atmosphere where real problems are tackled, and not covered up by highly emotional discourse.

      It’s easy, but nevertheless wrong to mistake this for censorship. This is often done, I think as a semantic justification for disrespect. The irony here is that you are saying that I’m calling for censorship, while I am simply giving my opinion. That’s often done, but it misses some subtle, but essential points.

  13. I am an Chinese. When I came to Australia, I found people are more polite in the public places. They say “please” to strangers more often. But people are more straightforward to their friends and criticize each other ore directly. On the contrary, Chinese (which are classified as Asian and supposed to be indirect) are not that polite to strangers, but are very careful when criticizing familiar people, including friends, colleagues and their family.

    During the “GNOME3 I-BUS integration” event (see http://lwn.net/Articles/503320/), many Chinese users and developers criticized GNOME3 developers very harshly (because of the seriousness of this problem) in the GNOME mailing list, but most GNOME3 developers, as westerners, care more about the politeness of the Chinese contributors rather than actually looking into the problem. This completely shattered the image of “subtle Asians” and “direct westerners” in my mind. Maybe those stereotypes are just wrong.

    Actually the Chinese tradition does not allow declining advices that are not friendly. An idiom says “Good medicine is bitter, but it cures your illness. Honest advices are hard to accept, but they helps you in your practice.” An ancient king was criticized by his people, but instead of enforcing censorship, he offered huge rewards to those who dare criticizing him in front of him. Another king who enforced censorship was overthrown in a riot in three years. These lessons from the history are taught in high schools in China.

    The bad thing about enforcing a “friendly” community (someone even used so-called “code of conduct”) is suppressing disagreement. It is just like censorship and the only thing it does is covering up problems. We should carefully think about why some people are unfriendly and what made them unfriendly. There must be an underlying reason (and is often serious). In the “I-BUS integration” case, the GNOME3 developers’ decision deprived the users of their rights to choose their favorite input method frameworks. This is sufficient to irritate most Chinese users because they will be crippled (not just uncomfortable) without a good input method. The “code of conduct” later became an excuse to kick or ban those disagreeing contributors.

    So enforcing a “friendly” community only makes a community where everyone smiles and no one is happy.

    • sebas says:

      Thanks for your input, I think you touch a few interesting points.

      This is not about honesty, it’s about verbal abuse. Consider the following two points to an imaginative LKML patch proposal on LKML:

      - “I think your patch doesn’t address this-and-that issue”
      - “You’re an idiot”

      Both express disagreement with a proposed patch, one addresses the actual problem, the other is an ad-hominem attack ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem ). Now take a guess which one motivates me more and gives me more tools to send an updated patch that fixes the problem. (So eventually benefits everyone.)

      I don’t think your last sentence is true, exactly because it’s totally OK to complain and to talk about bad things. This should be done in a constructive fashion, so it leads to solutions, and not to more bad blood. There’s a saying that you get the kind of reaction you ask for, meaning that if you are being nice, people will be nice. If you behave like an ass, people will do the same to you. Action and reactio.

      • Kunshan says:

        Sorry for not typing my name in the Name field. I am using Google OpenId.

        > Both express disagreement with a proposed patch, one addresses the actual problem, the other is an ad-hominem attack ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem ). Now take a guess which one motivates me more and gives me more tools to send an updated patch that fixes the problem. (So eventually benefits everyone.)

        I agree with this. “You’re an idiot” does not address the problem and is a very bad answer.

        > I don’t think this last sentence is true, exactly because it’s totally OK to complain and to talk about bad things.

        Yes. It IS always possible to complain in a constrictive manner. The problem is that nobody is perfect. When a user is treated badly (for example, some developer removed a key feature of a software crucial to a user and rendered it unusable), it can be very hard for him or her not to be angry. The same applies for complaints about other everyday things, like complaining about a flawed product purchased from a store. In such cases, unfriendly feed-backs are always expected.

        The key is how much we tolerate such behaviors and, more importantly, how much we expect such behaviors. I believe everything has a cause. When someone is unfriendly to you, there must be some reason that makes him or her angry. It is understandable that being impolite is bad, but finding out the reason behind it is more important.

        > There’s a saying that you get the kind of reaction you ask for

        Absolutely right. Buddhists discourages revenging for exactly this reason.

        But when someone behaves like an ass, what is that returning to? People are not born asses. What most likely to happen is some unconscious actions (not necessarily verbal) offended those “asses”. Removing features may seem harmless to the developers, but it ends up destroying the users’ experiences. Therefore the users’ unfriendly actions are what the developers asked for, despite unintentional. We often stress the friendliness in mailing lists, forums or personal communications, but the programmers’ behavior are ignored. People make bad decisions just because they are not perfect. This is also why we should EXPECT unfriendliness.

        So it is unavoidable that people will be unfriendly from time to time, but tolerance and introspection are also important.

      • I am not a LKML subscriber, so I am arguing on principles here, and feel free to correct me if you can. I would think that the vast majority of the messages on LKML are to the point and discuss solutions rather than person.

        Do you have any examples from LKML where the response was “you are an idiot”, and nothing more? Otherwise you are implicitly accusing someone of somthing he has not done (no names mentioned, but you know who this would most likely be).

        There is a big difference between “you are an idiot” and “your code is crap”. One points to the person, the other to code the person wrote and does not in any way indicate that the person is worthless (in my opinion). Please raise your hands everyone who claim to never have written code that they would today describe as crap.

        In my day job I even occasionally come across crap solutions from well-paid consultants. When I point out the flaws in the solutions the people who paid for that solution are outraged. I don’t think they are outraged by me calling the solution crap and recommending that they scrap it and rebuild from scratch, they are outraged by the fact that they have been invoiced as if the developers were senior consultants provided high-quality solutions.
        I have also created solutions myself that I now, with more experience, can agree could be described as crap. So don’t be so hung up in the choice of words. The real issue is whether the statements are correct or not.

  14. labatts says:

    ” “professional behaviour”. “professional behaviour” is a loaded term”

    In this case, Sarah bas being quite clear what she meant. She was not using it in any “loaded” fashion. For Linus to suggest otherwise his simply his inability to look at himself in the mirror,

    • sebas says:

      Spot on. People trying to further polarize this discussion are not contributing to the point, but simply do not understand what’s the discussion here.

  15. Stefan says:

    I have to agree with Linus here. I take issue with the idea that being blunt is not all right. Unless of course we’re talking about personal attacks. Personal attacks are not cool, but as Linus says – “professionalism” doesn’t make people nice, and people can be nice without acting “professional”. I don’t think Linus is being unkind by leading his argument off with the word ‘Bullshit’. The idea of having “professionalism” forced on me (or anyone else) is simply not palatable.

  16. Gordy says:

    I respect your opinion, but I’m with Linus on this one. One group of people trying to impose their standards on another does not promote diversity (whatever those standards are).

    “Codes of Conduct” are tools of conformity, not diversity.

    • sebas says:

      Isn’t Linus doing exactly that: Imposing his standards on others?

      • Bodertz says:

        http://marc.info/?l=linux-kernel&m=137392506516022&w=2

        >See what I’m saying? People are different. I’m not polite, and I get
        >upset easily but generally don’t hold a grudge – I have these
        >explosive emails. And that works well for some people. And it probably
        >doesn’t work well with you.
        >
        >And you know what? That’s fine. Not everybody had to get along or work
        >well with each other. But the fact that it doesn’t work with you
        >doesn’t make it “wrong”.

      • No, Linus is not imposing his standards on others. He is *not* trying to force others to respond in the same manner as himself.

  17. nece228 says:

    it wasnt that much of a problem when linus cursed nvidia, but when i saw linux developers posting messages like “those guys look like they have sucked few dicks” i definitely felt that its too much. either way, i support your opinion

  18. Mikko Jalava says:

    It never stops surprising me, how sensitive you americans can be. Linus is from Finland and for this nation it is totally fine if someone says something with couple of curses. Who the fuck cares? They are just words. They don’t harm you, they don’t kill anybody. If you don’t like them, don’t use them. Just because you think they are bad doesn’t mean I can’t use them.

    The personal attacks are different. Threatening is just wrong. Only perkeleen vittupäät do that;)

    • FFS says:

      A fellow european here.
      I agree on the cursing.

      Maybe it’s just a cultural thing.

    • George says:

      I personally think it’s fine going after the work of somebody telling it’s damn sh** what he/she committed, than going after the person telling he’s royally stupid. Some people react strange on that kind of attacks, some are even over-sensitive about their work.

      • sebas says:

        I’m not sure if offensive language really makes anyone look better, but I agree on the account that criticizing the code is better than the person.

  19. Alex Neundorf says:

    Re Gordy:
    ““Codes of Conduct” are tools of conformity, not diversity.”

    I’m not a fan of our (KDE’s) Code of Conduct, I think we should be old enough so we don’t need it.

    Anyway, if you actually look at it (http://www.kde.org/code-of-conduct/), there is nothing in it which would make it a “tool of conformity”. Basically it says don’t diss your colleagues (since you wouldn’t like that neither, probably).

    Alex

    • sebas says:

      Most of us do not actually need it, but for some it’s helpful. It simply tells them “this is the way how we deal with each other, because it’s proven to work well for us”. Codifying that is a good thing, because it makes it easier to get your work done for those that are new to KDE. It simply helps you to not look like an idiot, and to be taken seriously.

      The vast majority of us do not need a code of conduct it, because they learned this kind of behaviour sometime when growing up, as you note. For those that do, we’ve written it down.

      • Bistro says:

        And this is exactly how terrorists win. A few bullies in real world make everybody else follow an insane set of rules. Same thing with KDE.

        • sebas says:

          You’re wrong. A mutual discourse how one should behave has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with that.

          I think you’re using entirely useless hyperbole here, please try to stay at least somewhat reasonable.

  20. Jo Øiongen says:

    I’m with Linus here.

    There are a few things that make it not possible to compare the development of the LInux kernel and KDE. The kernel is one SINGLE project with a dictator at the helm. KDE is a community where all sorts of software is developed. There is no single leader within KDe, but severals leaders scattered all over the place. Everything eventually depends on the kernel, therefore it is utter most important for the kernel to be as perfect as possible. No such thing exists within KDE. These are points to why KDE and LINUX uses different methods for collaboration and communication.

    Further on, Ms. Sharp comes dragging with some utter american PC bullcrap that do not offer anything else than an environment where people are allowed to fuck up things and never have to face the consequences for their fuck ups. the “Linus method” have given us an absolutely brilliant kernel, that should be more than enough to respect Linus for the developer and community leader he is.

    • sebas says:

      I think that Linux is great *despite* the rude environment, not because of it.

      Also, I find Linus getting a lot more offensive lately. I haven’t run the numbers, but my impression is that a few years ago he’d be more clear about him using offensive language jokingly, while today it’s hardly sarcastic, but just plain profanity. In that way, the popcorn factor kind of got lost. Maybe that’s some sort of hubris, or he needs a break to take a few steps back.

      You should not mistake being civilized with “no consequences”. A patch not getting merged because it’s not good enough is a logical consequence that has nothing to do with using abusive language. It’s actually a lot easier to get something done right if one doesn’t have to wade through emails that mainly contain cursing and being ever lighter on actually useful information.

      I don’t agree with your argument that KDE and Linux are so fundamentally different: For a user, it simply doesn’t make a difference if the kernel doesn’t start up or the desktop — the machine is unusable either way. Just to give an example.

  21. Laszlo Papp says:

    Sorry, but I do not have time to read this blog post through, but reading the subject, this url comes to my mind from yesterday:

    https://lkml.org/lkml/2013/7/13/132 ;-)

  22. KenP says:

    Last paragraph of Linus’ rant is most significant. So, are bringing unnecessarily pretentious corporate culture into free software world? I had always thought, from reading numerous blogs, that free software development was a meritocracy. If something doesn’t stand up to standards, it will be shot down — notice ‘shot down’, not “gently put down so as to not hurt anyone’s sentiments”.
    If, however, this methodology has changed, then so will likely the quality of free software, in general.
    Just my thoughts.

    • sebas says:

      You misunderstood then. Nobody is asking for pretentious corporate culture, and I think the comment from Sarah I quote a few comments above makes that abundantly clear.

      Then, there is zero added value to shooting someone’s patch down. Especially for communities that depend on volunteer contributions, when being unfriendly you’re simply making sure someone won’t come back with an improved patch. Sending in an insufficient patch is not a problem, that’s what we have reviews for, and we help each other to improve that way.

      Shooting someone’s patch down is in most cases simply counterproductive, especially when a technical discussion on how a problem should be solved is foregone or prevented because someone wants to be as “cool” as Linus and abuse verbal violence. You surely want yourself to be taken seriously, and not undermine any chance of feedback because you think abusive language is cool. Newsflash: It’ll just make you look like a dork.

      Free software is a collaborative process, not a pissing contest. If someone doesn’t have the basic social skills to talk to someone else without verbal violence or personal threats, it’s pretty damn hard to get something done. That’s the harsh reality, not some kind of romantic cowboy culture.

      • Marty K. says:

        > Shooting someone’s patch down is in most cases simply counterproductive

        Thing is he’s shooting down only patches from people he expects proper top quality while the patches are, well, crap, he’s actually quite polite if people ask about problems etc. I’m not defending his swear words (though in that mail thread people that-got-yelled-at actually _are_ defending it), but I don’t think you should be generalizing it that much (as in he’s not shooting down every patch with crazy swearing).

  23. Stefan says:

    You should watch this video where he also explains about this, and what the “beeing nice way and not step on toes” can result in.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZRvHbHxr-k&list=PLAD73BF2CF936A922

  24. Bistro says:

    Totally agree. We should all step down to the lowest common denominator.

    Some things from my side: I also think it’s extremely rude and impolite to kill animals. I am a vegetarian and seeing dead animals just totally spoils not just my day but my entire weekend. I would say that we should refrain posting pictures of meat on planetkde. I hope we can all agree that it is only civilized to now show pictures of dead animals and how we humans have a great time devouring animals after a life has been lost.

    I find the above much more offensive and uncultered and actually barbaric (display of physical violence on animals here with proof!) then someone telling me to fuck off (after all it’s just words).

    Sign me up, where do we start being all nice?

  25. lucas says:

    Never change a running system.