[linux-elitists] My Anti-Qmail Page

J. Paul Reed preed@sigkill.com
Sat Nov 5 17:53:49 PST 2005

On 05 Nov 2005 at 10:45:16, Teh Entar-Nick arranged the bits on my disk to say:

> Complaining about a developer's "attitude" is a lot like standing up and
> screaming to the world that you are technically illiterate, and thus
> incapable of analyzing software development beyond petty personal
> affectations.  And yet you still want to scream and yell to get
> attention.  
> Bad strategy, worse tactics.

Not entirely.

I would agree with you if you constrained your statement to "If you *only*
complained about a developer's attitude, then it'd be a lot like standing

A developer's attitudes towards their consumers in a prominent, open source
project is a valid reason to argue for or against its use. There may (and
*should*) be other reasons, but that aspect shouldn't be discounted solely
because we're afraid of it being "a personal attack."

As an example, I've heard numerous times (I haven't ever researched this,
so I'm not going to claim it's actually happened, but I have heard this
from numerous sources, If you want a better, documented example of this
type of behavior, substitute Theo de Raadt) stories about Mr. Bernstein
kicking people off of "his" mailing lists when they are advocating
ideas/improvements he doesn't like. Assuming this (for now) hypothetical is
true, that's something I'd want to know before I start using his software,
and it's something I would consider as a negative to using his software.

In an open source context, developers' attitudes towards their users and
the dialogue that occurs is very analogous to technical support in a
commercial context; if you're making a decision, you may take into account
Microsoft's abysmal technical support record when making the decision, just
as you might take into account Dan Bernstein or Theo de Raadt's tendencies
towards being annoying assholes.  Postfix and Linux are arguably better
because the leaders of those projects specifically aren't so... "difficult"
to work with (I'm not making that claim, so don't waste a bunch of time
refuting it; it's just a possible, *valid* claim to make, given a
particular [reasonable] value system.)

Of course, if you make the decision based solely on whether you "like" the
developer, that's stupid. But it's similarly stupid to say "Well, ignore
the person's leadership abilities and personality" when you're judging
whether or not to use open source software, solely because it's focused on
someone's personality.

Unless you're planning to fork the project (an entirely valid, yet costly
option in open source), just as you're making an investment in a company
and expecting them to support you after your decision/deployment, you're
doing the same with open source software.

As long as it's supported, it's an entirely reasonable claim to make. And
who knows... if more people (had the balls to) make it (publicly), maybe
people would get the message and think more seriously about that.

J. Paul Reed -- 0xDF8708F8 || preed@sigkill.com || web.sigkill.com/preed
Math, my dear boy, is nothing more than the lesbian sister of biology.
                                            -- Peter Griffin, Family Guy

More information about the linux-elitists mailing list