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.

It’s not Gentoo-specific…

One thing that always surprised me is seeing people who think that some problems are Gentoo-specific, when they are clearly not, clearly for who has worked in some other project than Gentoo at least, and now we have some evidence about this.

I’m not thinking of bugs reported by our users on various bugzillas, but rather to social problems of the project itself. For instance the “poisonous people” talk, that I linked some time ago in #gentoo-dev, that applies perfectly well on our situation, was not written with Gentoo in mind, but rather Debian.

So what about the evidence I was talking about? Well, this morning I read this interesting post of Russell Coker, a Debian developer. It’s an interesting read to see that whatever we’re suffering by it’s not an exclusive of Gentoo itself. Russell, if you ever read this post, I can tell you that you’re not alone in that… here it’s happening more or less the same. Slightly different cases, but the outcome is the same.

Anyway, now I have some actual work to do… I try to stick with that.