[linux-elitists] Request for Comments: How to Deal with Internet?Trolls - the Cognitive Therapy approach

Shlomi Fish shlomif at iglu.org.il
Mon Mar 7 03:37:55 PST 2011

Hi Rick,

On Monday 07 Mar 2011 12:30:40 Rick Moen wrote:
> Quoting Shlomi Fish (shlomif at iglu.org.il):
> > For example, in the latest sub-thread about tmux's licensing, where
> > someone said that the "GPL has won" and I posted a longish message about
> > why that may not be the case, someone else replied that: "Nick knows a
> > great deal more about licensing than you do.". While not being
> > flammatory, it was still an ad-
> > hominem attack, and I responded like that (although in a split forward):
> That was a non-response, but then, you didn't have anything remotely
> interesting to say about software licensing in the first place.  At some
> point, you might want to consider that this mailing list is populated
> largely by people, including Nick Moffitt, who decades ago worked out,
> and did to death, pretty much all of the various matters with which you
> seem to be grappling in a painfully ineffective and wide-eyed fashion,
> which might be why you are (again) being largely ignored.

Well, I'll be a bit more blunt this time: it's a good idea to avoid such 
things as "My experience is bigger than yours.", "My wealth is bigger than 
yours", "My success is bigger than yours.", "I received more comments than 
your", "My licence is bigger than yours.", etc. 

This is an unfortunate relic of the western society that is not very healthy 
and is discussed in depth by modern Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which warns 
against what people call the "Productivity/Success disorder" and that it's OK 
to be mediocre in some fields. http://idkn.wordpress.com/ noted in his blog 
that in the far east, the masters of Martial Arts ran a local club of martial 
artists, and tried to practice their arts as much as they could, but did not 
rule out that they may sometimes lose to people who have never fought before. 
The whole coloured belts scheme is a western invention.

I do not claim to be an expert in licensing such as Nick or you, but 
irregardless, I may have some good points. I favour BSD-style licences 
(usually the X11L) for my projects when I can help it, but don't rule out 
copyleft licences, whether strong or weak, completely and think it's a valid 
approach in case that's what you're after. 

It is well accepted that some high school teenagers (or even younger) with one 
year of experience can write better code (both more functional and more 
elegant and often finish much more quickly) than many professors of Computer 
Science or Software Engineering with 10 years of experience. So you shouldn't 
dismiss someone no matter how unqualified they are and no matter how much more 
qualified you think you are.

It's OK to have a big "ego" (Linus once said he had an "ego the size of a 
small planet", and he wasn't lying.), but you should still not be arrogant 
enough to think that you will always know better than someone, no matter how 
unqualified and inexperienced they are.

I think Mel Brooks parodied this (among other great parodies) in his movie 
Spaceballs (which you should definitely see). You can buy it or google for a 

I'm not saying I'm right about the GPL vs. BSDL, or that the tmux people were 
right to start their own BSDLed project instead of enhancing or forking the 
GPLed screen, just that I may be right about the fact that the GPL has not 
completely "won" - whatever that means. I also think that saying that the 
"GPL's success > BSDL's success" is another symptom of the "my X is bigger 
than yours" which is not healthy.

> Also at your leisure, you might want to look up what argumentum ad
> homimem actually means.

I have:

* http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ad-hominem.html

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

The "You are less qualified than mine - ergo - what you say is not true" 
definitely seems like an ad-hominem to me. (But I may be wrong, and you can 
feel free to enlighten me.).

Sorry for the long post.


	Shlomi Fish

P.S: I should note that I also may be obsessed with how much success I get, 
how much code I write, how performant I am at work, etc. but it's more 
cognitive and sub-conscious than behaviural. I still try to curb it, but it 
takes some time. Nevertheless, I try no to consciously exhibit the anti-
pattern of "I am a better programmer/etc. than you.", and at most I will say 
that "I'm a pretty good programmer." or "A good programmer", and never "A 
great programmer." (that's something only other people can judge).

It's more important to be a good man than a great man. "First, do no harm." 
and "Be excellent to each other.".

Shlomi Fish       http://www.shlomifish.org/
Chuck Norris/etc. Facts - http://www.shlomifish.org/humour/bits/facts/

Lone Starr: "Just what we need - a Druish princess."
Barf: "Funny! She doesn't look Druish."
    -- Spaceballs, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094012/

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