[linux-elitists] Re: Yet another mozilla atrocity

Karsten M. Self kmself@ix.netcom.com
Thu Oct 9 01:15:33 PDT 2003

on Wed, Oct 08, 2003 at 12:10:40PM -0700, Greg KH (greg@kroah.com) wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 08, 2003 at 02:51:12PM -0400, Tanner Lovelace wrote:
> > Jeff Waugh wrote:
> > 
> > >"Oh, but it's easy!" Sorry, doesn't hold up in the real world,
> > >particularly the very noisy low-barrier-to-I-know-better-than-you-entry
> > >Free Software world.
> > 
> > Did I say things were easy?  No, I specifically said coding and
> > design are *not* the same thing.  This was in response to your
> > assertion that Karsten was "just like every other random
> > gimp who thinks they know the score." I notice you casually sidestepped
> > this issue, deciding instead to insinuate that you yourself know
> > better than anyone else.  Would you care to answer my actual point
> > instead of going off on a tangent?
> His point is (if I may be so bold as to guess it), is that in the open
> source community, people who state, "This is how it should be done",
> without backing it up with code, are all but ignored.  Now if this is a
> good thing or not, that's not the point, but it is reality for almost
> all projects.

The only problem with this presentation, and in all deference, Greg,
because I respect your work, is that nobody here has been saying "this
is how it should be done".  What *has* been said, emphatically, by
people who have both development and design experience (though not
necessarily specific to GNOME) is that the current design has some
rather serious defects.

Martin Pool _has_ taken the technical points with some consideration.
Jeff Waugh has been a complete priss, no dicing words.  He's
consistently retreated behind slogans and belittlement, while ignoring
specific technical issues with both gconf and GNOME.  Jason Spence is
another member of this axis of evasion.

The basic tack of the axis of evasion's arguments is:

  - "Just figure out how to live with the defaults"

  - "This is irrelevant and almost entirely orthogonal to application
    In response to:  "Each piece of the OS puzzle that is built in
    isolation adds a notch of complexity. Complexity kills
    productivity."  This simply flies in the face of 40+ years of
    software development experience.

  - "Tradition *nix people ... want THEIR version of
    tcsh/emacs/netscape/CDE/teco/whatever with THEIR custom patches and
    THEIR color scheme and THEIR window focus behavior and blah blah
    blah etc."  One word:  choice.

  - "Context matters more; do it in the app" (rather than $EDITOR)
    More choice-denial.

  - "you shouldn't have to muck around with fifty seven thousand anal
    retentive configuration options to hit the ground running" In
    response to: "well designed software should allow you to change the
    defaults easily and consistently"

  - Preferences are "mastubatory".

  - Repeated mischaractization of "allowing editor-based configuration
    changes" with "disallowing GUI-based configuration tools". (various)

  - ""
    In response to the question "what stations am I monitoring" in the
    string "4b41504320213c2d2d3e21204b445041", addressing the opaqueness
    of XML based GNOME configurations.

  - ""
    In response to the question of what headline feeds are being
    monitored in the string: "687474703a2f2f736c617368646f742e
    6d2f666565642f5244462f73616c6f6e5f7573652e726466", addressing the
    opaqueness of XML based GNOME configurations.

> Remember, people who are writing code for free, will more often than
> not, hate people telling them what they should be doing.

Again:  I don't see a mandate of "do it this way or none other".  I see
"the way it is being done has major problems".

I see an awful lot of dismissal without justification (not from all
parties, but I've named names).

I see flat refusal to address criticisms at all.

I see statements which are counter to my own decade-plus experience as a
software developer, and which fly in the face of principles of design
and construction as espoused in _Code Complete_, "CyberInsecurity",
_Just for Fun_, _The UNIX Programming Environment_, and other widely
respected guides to software design.

I've read the Pennington essays.  Several times.  I disagree with much
of what he says.  I take specific objection to his "if you can't code
you can't talk" viewpoint.  If you can't contribute (ideas, thoughts,
tips, criticisms), you can't contribute.

I've worked on both sides of this divide:

  - As a SAS programmer, I'm often working with clinical experts or
    statisticians who have very specific domain knowledge, but can't
    implement the concepts in the coding language, or can't create a
    generalized implementation.

  - In the case of Scoop (the weblog/CMS behind Kuro5hin), I very
    specifically designed both the moderation and mojo systems.  My Perl
    skills are very weak -- enough that I can find the relevant code and
    modify it, but not enough to have coded it within Scoop in the first

Havoc writes a phrase that's going to be popular with harried
programmers.  Like a number of other topics he's opened his yap on, it's
bullshit.  I call 'em like I see 'em.

> In otherwords, "put up or shut up" :)

This I'm going to take an extreme exception to.

Through his spokesman, the president of my country has said that
Americans need to "watch what they say".  I've been subjected to
censorship on three forums in the past year (LUGoD, tmda-users, and
#ucd-irc).  In large part because the operators of these forums
disagreed with what I was saying, in discussions of technical issues.
This is simply not acceptable behavior.  Disruptive behavior and
personal attacks (of which _I_ was subjected to several in all three
cases), are legitimate grounds for restricting an individual's posting
rights.  Not wanting your sacred cows skewered or criticised is not.

Censorship is bullshit, Greg.  

If you're going to code, accept the compliments _and_ the complaints.
If you're not interested in the conversation, don't participate.


Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
  Backgrounder on the Caldera/SCO vs. IBM and Linux dispute.
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