[linux-elitists] RFC: Some Requests from the kernel.org Admins

Shlomi Fish shlomif at shlomifish.org
Wed Jul 13 07:32:24 PDT 2011


Hi all,

I've written this open letter and placed it in the temporary location of
http://www.shlomifish.org/lkml-letter-f6y9/ , and intend to publish it as an
http://www.advogato.org/ editorial. However, I decided to send it here first in
case there is a way to resolve the issues at hand here first.

Any comments will be welcome.

Regards,

	Shlomi Fish

----------------

# Some Requests from the kernel.org Admins

## The requests:

This article is is intended to convey a few requests for the E-mail
administrators of [kernel.org](http://www.kernel.org/). First of all, I should
note that I hold them in high esteem for their hard-work in keeping the various
@kernel.org mailing lists (related to the Linux kernel, git and other projects)
spam and abuse free, proving to be very valuable resources in advancing these
important and quality open-source projects. They are doing an important work
which is often overlooked and invisible.

The requests are:

1. **Assign a developer to adopt my kernel-xconfig search enhancement patch** -
[the patch in
question](http://www.shlomifish.org/open-source/projects/linux-kernel/xconfig-search/)
has been maintained since a relatively early version of linux-2.6.x and the
most recently updated version should apply cleanly on recent kernels. The
modifications are licensed under the [MIT/X11
licence](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIT_License) (which is a permissive
licence and is compatible with the GPL version 2 licence of the original code),
and the patch improves the usability of that particular aspect of the kernel
configuration system.    I will assist the adopter of the patch, who will
champion its inclusion into the mainline kernel, with resolving any issue they
have with the patch that they are unable to resolve themselves, within the
limits of my schedule. I believe the patch is in overall good condition,
although it naturally may suffer from some style, consistency or functionality
issues. It is also acceptable that a new patch will be written to implement a
similar functionality, if my patch is found lacking.

2. **Assign a git contributor to champion git on the "Better SCM Site"** -
currently, [the Better SCM Site](http://better-scm.berlios.de/), a site for
information and advocacy about version control systems, lacks a maintainer for
[its git page](http://better-scm.berlios.de/alternatives/git/) and for the git
entry [for the comparison of version control
systems](http://better-scm.berlios.de/comparison/), which has gained
significant popularity. The champion will communicate between me, the
maintainer of the site and the comparison, and the git mailing lists, and help
fill in the details of git there, as detailed in the ["how to contribute"
page](http://better-scm.berlios.de/contribute/).

3. In addition to the first two item, or instead, please unban my E-mail
addresses (shlomif at iglu.org.il , shlomif at shlomifish.org and shlomif at gmail.com )
from sending E-mail to the git and Linux kernel mailing lists hosted on
vger.kernel.org. If that happens, then I can fulfill both roles myself to some
extent, or find someone to delegate the responsibility to from the wider
community, and thus benefit the Linux kernel and git.

4. Please **change the incoming E-mail rejection messages** from reading "Your
address is not [a] liked source for E-mail" to something that explains: 1. why
it is not liked and 2. what one can do about it. See [what I have
written](http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?joel.3.734302.9) about
why this and similar behaviours are a usability problem.

## Some Background for These Requests

I believe the ban was instituted due to [an E-mail I sent to
LKML](http://www.shlomifish.org/philosophy/computers/open-source/linus-torvalds-bus-factor/),
that claimed that it may be a good idea to give more developers commit
privileges into a central kernel repository, and that the Linux kernel
development community may wish to restructure itself so it won't have Linus
Torvalds as its "benevolent dictator", which I believed would make it stronger
and more mature. Those intentions aside, I was told , after sending it, that it
was phrased in a way that was far too provocative.

Shortly after that, [an LKML admin
informed](http://www.shlomifish.org/philosophy/computers/open-source/linus-torvalds-bus-factor/#david_miller_response)
that he was killing the thread because it was "nothing but flame fodder". In
addition to that, he also banned my E-mail addresses from sending E-mails to
all vger.kernel.org addresses, but it took me a long time to find out that was
the case because of the lack of clear phrasing in the rejection E-mail
messages.

## Some Points in My Defence

While I agree that sending a badly phrased E-mail was a bad decision on my
part, I can list the following points in my defence:

1. It was not the first E-mail I sent to LKML. Among the other things I sent
there were previous versions of my xconfig-search-enhancement patch as well as
some RFCs and announcements for a project titled [CLAN - the "Comprehensive
Linux [Kernel] Archive
Network"](http://fc-solve.berlios.de/CLAN/docs/whitepaper.html), which have not
really materialised, but was still on-topic, and some Linux kernel developers I
talked with on IRC expressed some interest and excitement about it.

2. The message was on-topic and I also marked it as [Meta].

3. I subscribed to the mailing list from my GMail.com account and sent the
original E-mail from there, so I could handle the responses in case there were
going to be any.

4. While I admit that I often "troll" various online forums (while having good
intentions and meaning well), I have made [many important
contributions](http://www.shlomifish.org/open-source/) to the world of free and
open-source software (FOSS), whether in code, articles, essays, tutorials,
presentations, materials for advocacy or publicity, or even fictional stories.
I may be a troll, but there's more to me than being a troll, and there are
better ways to tame trolls than to ban them. As seen on the request, some of my
contributions to the world of FOSS, were undermined by the ban, while proving
to have negative consequences for the Linux kernel and for the git version
control system. Furthermore, even though I'm not subscribed to the LKML, I've
heard of several notorious people who've repetitively posted trolling messages
there, and were not banned because they were held in high esteem. I'm not
claiming my contributions to FOSS match theirs, but they are nevertheless
significant.

5. Killing the thread alone would have been an acceptable solution if
necessary, but banning me proved to be a much bigger problem for the projects
hosted on vger.kernel.org

6. I was not warned before the ban was enacted.

7. During the time I sent the E-mail, I was in a state of [hypomania (=
"below-mania")](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypomania), where I am highly
excited and creative, but tend to behave more rashly and perform actions that
may prove of negative social impact (while still being mostly in control of
myself). After that Hypomania, I adopted a stricter self-discpline about
posting to such public forums when I'm hypomanic, and normally keep writing
such things to myself, and publish them only when I think more clearly. (I'm
also doing some therapy work, in hope to reduce the frequency of the hypomanias
I have and their severity, but it is an ongoing process.)

8. I guarantee that I will limit my messages to the kernel.org mailing lists to
possible patches, bug reports (such as [the one titled "the Linux Networking
Problem"](http://community.livejournal.com/shlomif_tech/7034.html), which was
only resolved after switching to a different NAT/router), as well as on-topic
things that are related to projects.


-- 
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Shlomi Fish       http://www.shlomifish.org/
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