Get the thorn out

Sometimes it’s necessary to stand by your choices even when they are controversial. We all know that by now. One nice thing of volunteer Free Software is that if you don’t like a controversial decision, you can just leave, or fork, or in any case get away from who made the decision you don’t like.

I left when a decision was made that I didn’t like, I came back when the situation was, to my eyes, corrected. It was and is my freedom.

It so happens that the council made a decision, probably the only real decision since the Council was formed, the first time the council actually grew balls to do something even if that wasn’t going to please everyone.

Am I happy about the decision? Well not really, as it seems to me somewhat silly that we had to go down the road of actually making this decision. But I’m not displeased by the outcome. I think we should have taken this decision a long time ago actually.

To stop speaking like an abstract class in C#, the decision was to retire a number of developers, that for what the Council could gather and upon on are all considered poisonous to the project. Poisonous does not mean they have zero contribution, just that their contribution is shaded by disruption to the wellness of the project. This disruption comprises of a lot of actions, not just one or two. They might even not be huge by themselves, but if they are a lot, well, the size of them starts not to count (the so-called death of a thousand cuts).

This is not meant as a signal that you shouldn’t be criticising Gentoo. Critics are welcome if they are constructive. You can also work in parallel on competing products (hell, Greg KH is listed as a Gentoo Developer but works for Novell!), just as long as you don’t start to use your rights as a Gentoo developer to force people to move on something else, I’d suppose.

It doesn’t even related only to actions on Forums, as our Forums Admins are able to tackle those problems on their own (and I do trust with it). It relates to a lot of small things once again.

In general, the signal that we’re trying to bring through is “don’t poison your contribution to Gentoo”. You can criticise, you can joke, but if the people you joke upon don’t laugh with you at the joke, then apologise and stop it! Otherwise you’re just walking poison and we’re going to get rid of you, sooner or later. Hopefully sooner next time, before developers resign or reduce their involvement because of your actions.

For the Italian readers who read my political rant from yesterday (for those who can’t read Italian it’s a piece talking about job politics, what Italian unionists and politicians do and how it harms the system), you can see a slightly similitude between the two issues. In both cases you have to get rid of some people to avoid leaving everybody out at one point.

Oh and if we wanted to get rid of people working on Paludis, you can expect all of them to be gone, so no that’s not the cause either. It’s just incidental.

And for what it’s worth, nobody is trying to get rid of everybody they disagree with. Otherwise me and Donnie would be trying to get rid of each other ;) As I said before we don’t always agree on how to proceed with things, and we can be often found on opposite sides of an argument. Still we work together, and I’d say we do that quite happily, because of our difference in views: it usually stops us from going with the extremes. But you’ll never find me and Donnie exchanging snide comments, or insulting each other.

In Italy it officially seems spring, this spring cleaning was long due.

21 thoughts on “Get the thorn out

  1. Hi Diego!Are you sure that forcing this retirements are a proper decission? I am not sure that the empty space that they will leave will be easily re-filled. Also, other collateral problem could be that some other devs could retire also because of this policy or because they agree with affected people.Maybe some of them could say something wrong, or make an error, but anybody can do it sometimes in his/her life. We should remember that talk through internet cannot be as clear as real conversations because spontaneity is lost, then, we should take care of this.I am a member of Mandriva Triage team, and I have also had some arguments with some reporters or devs. Also, in the past, I argued with mandriva spanish forums moderators but, in both cases, I learned that, sometimes, some arguments can be easily ended or, at least, we can keep in peace even thinking a lot different if we stop replying and growing the argue and we think over the discussion again and re-read all carefully. Maybe the start was a tiny disagreement or, simply, a misunderstanding.Also, sometimes we prone to argue because of problems on real life completely unrelated to gentoo. This is why we should make decissions carefully and let arguments cool before taking decissions that cannot be easily reverted.I think that Council should reconsider this important decission for making sure that it won’t create worse problems that whose that want to resolve.Thanks a lot (and sorry for my poor english)

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  2. Don’t think we woke up this morning and decided to get rid of any developer. We considered this for a quite long time. Over all, I think the decision was took after a _too_ long time.And there is no misunderstanding here, in the way these three insulted fellow developers, it wasn’t something due to a particular real-life situation, if it was it was a situation that lasted so long that one should be able to understand it’s time to retire his commitment, take a break and come back later.As I said, it’s a controversial decision, but I think it’s correct, and should have been taken before.

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  3. you know what: if i happened to be a kde user, i would be actually very angry right now. it seems that philatrop has really done a lot in that area [1], and i think it will take some time to replace him. i hope you guys really know what you are doing, as the dev/package ratio is already dangerously small. thus, i would rather suggest removing unmaintained ebuilds then sacking hard-working developers, even if interacting with them is sometimes difficult.[1]: http://tinyurl.com/6p4fo6

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  4. There is no correlation between number of ebuilds and the amount of poison the project gets, if you suggest there is, I think you never tried to look at that.I was an active KDE developer myself when I left last year, and KDE survived. Why do you think it wouldn’t survive again? Actually, I’m sure there are people who will be more willing to help the KDE team (again) now that Philantrop is gone. I’m sure of this because I’m one of them myself.

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  5. “You can criticise, you can joke, but if the people you joke upon don’t laugh with you at the joke, then apologise and stop it!”++

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  6. As a long-term Gentoo user I think that retiring poisonous developers is a good idea and I’m happy someone actually made this decision. Gentoo is based on cooperation and anyone poisoning cooperation should go away. Participating in Gentoo should be joyful for both developers and users. Healthy community will attract more developers and users, faster.

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  7. “There is no correlation between number of ebuilds and the amount of poison the project gets, if you suggest there is, I think you never tried to look at that.”i think you misunderstood me. what i mean is, that if the number of highly productive devs decreases, while the number of ebuilds stays the same, quality will suffer. this also applies if a dev resigns voluntarily of course…admittedly, every one is exchangeable, but not always so easily, and some time will pass by until new recruits with the same potential are ready.”I was an active KDE developer myself when I left last year, and KDE survived. Why do you think it wouldn’t survive again?”i’m not worried about KDE directly, as i’m quite happy with GNOME ;-). after all, KDE will of course survive, even if Gentoo dies…”Actually, I’m sure there are people who will be more willing to help the KDE team (again) now that Philantrop is gone. I’m sure of this because I’m one of them myself.”i appreciate that. however, you will have to disregard other things you could have done, because you cannot work for two (three, four… choose a number).last but not least: please don’t take this personal, but i’m using Gentoo for almost 6 years, and i’ve been contributing as AT and author of app-portage/gatt for almost 2 years. i’m worried because i like Gentoo and what you guys are doing.

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  8. At least with spb this is hardly surprising – and long overdue. Philantrop&rbrownn – I don#t know what they have done.. But making kde-overlay depending on paludis was deemed evil on this side of the monitor. I hope that the whole mess will be put public – iff notwe can prepare for month of speculations and fingerpointing.

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  9. > You can criticise, you can joke, but if the people you joke upon don’t laugh with you at the joke, then apologise and stop it!I would like to request that all devs who have ever criticised or joked about Paludis be retired.> But making kde-overlay depending on paludis was deemed evil on this side of the monitor.I’d say that “evil” is trying to force everyone into the lowest common denominator, preventing them from using the tools available to them. If everyone had that attitude we’d still be living in caves.

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  10. You just don’t get it, right? This has nothing to do with Paludis, nor with criticising. But I suppose if you couldn’t get it by the phrase above, you will never get it.And sure, feel free to request it to your god(s), but on which ground would you request it to anyone else?Do you have any idea of what are you saying? Did you read anything at all?Remember: you’re free to fork, you’re free to walk away from Gentoo, you’re free to do anything you want. At the same time you cannot force anything on anyone else.

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  11. What I don’t like the most is that I have no idea what these people have actually done to deserve this.This secrecy in gentoo, the fact that the archives of gentoo-core are not public, is what hurts gentoo the most I think.The leaders, be it of a country or a linux distro or whatever, should operate in transparency, not secrecy.

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  12. > You just don’t get it, right?Charming.> This has nothing to do with PaludisI don’t believe that for a moment, but it’s irrelevant to my comment.> nor with criticisingThen why did you mention criticising in the post?> But I suppose if you couldn’t get it by the phrase above, you will never get it.Yay, more personal attacks.> And sure, feel free to request it to your god(s), but on which ground would you request it to anyone else?Your post seems to suggest that excessive criticism is a retirement offense. Or is it only criticism of people with power, and their friends?> Do you have any idea of what are you saying? Did you read anything at all?I’ve really touched a nerve here, haven’t I?I don’t think for a moment that you’ll approve this post, of course. Feel free to prove me wrong.

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  13. You don’t even deserve an answer, as you didn’t even read my post for sure. You’re just trying to justify yourself without having a case. I’ve approved the comment so that people can see what you try to argue.. I’ll leave to them judge you.

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  14. Diego, thanks for letting that comment through.dleverton, you clearly didn’t write that comment with the expectation of outsiders (or possibly anyone other than Diego) reading it. Would you mind restating your points with a little more context for the rest of us?

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  15. @Flameeyes: That a decision needed to be taken to remove poisonous developers from the project for the benefit of others is understandable and clearly a very difficult one. In particular as particular those people can appear very vocal and competent to outsiders.What I find strange is that you are the only one taking the flak for it, just as a single member of the council. Why is there no clear statement from the council or devrel as a whole on such an unprecedented(?) decision.External viewers currently only see attachment to the retirement-bugs, which are not positive, but I’ve seen far worse happening on the dev-list in my recollection. Raising the question why now?ps) Note that I do not agree/think that every piece of information needs to be public as you are dealing with people and opinions about people. But there has to be some form of justification/feedback on the why.ps2) Purely technical: Does this have consequences for the specification drafted for the package-managers? If I remember correctly spb was leading that (not sure if purely by proxy)

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  16. i’ll never understand what’s the cause of all that anger between developers. where did the teamwork go?

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  17. To stop speaking like an abstract class in C#, the decision was to retire a number of developers, that for what the Council could gather and upon on are all considered poisonous to the project. Poisonous does not mean they have zero contribution, just that their contribution is shaded by disruption to the wellness of the project. This disruption comprises of a lot of actions, not just one or two.In principle, I agree, poisonous people need to be removed. In practice, I’ve found all too often that what constitutes “poisonous” is very subjective.Open the bug. Make the *entire* proceeding public. You only shoot yourselves in the foot otherwise.I would argue that by creating the impression you have something to hide, you are compromising users’ and developers’ trust in the council’s ability to effectively govern Gentoo.

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  18. Since flameeyes approved the comment asking me to respond, I hope he’ll approve the response too. I’m sure the last thing he wants is to make me look bad….—————-> dleverton, you clearly didn’t write that comment with the expectation of outsiders (or possibly anyone other than Diego) reading it.I’m not sure what gives you that impression. The situation seems pretty clear to me:1) flameeyes wrote:> You can criticise, you can joke, but if the people you joke upon don’t laugh with you at the joke, then apologise and stop it! Otherwise you’re just walking poison and we’re going to get rid of you, sooner or later.2) I wondered if this policy would be enforced consistently, so I asked in the form of a rhetorical request (my choice of example being entirely independent of any other relevance Paludis may or may not have to the topic at hand).3) flameeyes exploded in a shower of insults, which I can only assume is Italian for “of course it won’t be enforced consistently, you foolish peasant.”If there’s anything in particular that you’d like me to clarify, feel free to ask, if you think I’ll be permitted to answer.

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  19. Please note that I’m free to decide whether to let comments pass or not, this is my blog, not a democracy for sure. I never intended it to be a democracy anyway. FWIW I’ll approve comments when they make sense (so in the case of the last one, because Ryan asked a question), I made the decision already not to let some people comment at all, and their comments will be filtered by Typo directly.As for the “shower of insults”, I would suggest you to note that a) this is far from being an official medium, these comments are not even published on the Planet and b) you still didn’t get what I wrote above, which would suggest that either I didn’t make it clear – which I doubt since I see most people got what I meant – or you didn’t read the post and only assume that we (I?) got something against Paludis per se, which is not the case.But really, do you think you deserve an answer?

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  20. The assumption was based on the fact that I couldn’t follow the flow of the conversation, which suggested it may have been part of a semi-private communication.To put it bluntly, I was trying to figure out what the big deal was.I’ll give up now though, as I’m lazy and it seems there is far too much history to fit into the comments of a single blog post by a single individual.

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