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How Open Source Projects Survive Poisonous People

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the these-people-have-a-poison-aoe-need-totems-to-cleanse dept.

Programming 241

CoolVibe writes "Two Subversion developers talk at Google about how to keep pests and malcontents out of your open source projects. From the abstract: 'Every open source project runs into people who are selfish, uncooperative, and disrespectful. These people can silently poison the atmosphere of a happy developer community. Come learn how to identify these people and peacefully de-fuse them before they derail your project. Told through a series of (often amusing) real-life anecdotes and experiences.'"

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241 comments

Video link (4, Insightful)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317785)

Could we please get video and flash links in stories tagged "(video)" or "(flash)" like is done for PDF links? Especially things that will generate audio which might be disruptive in a work environment and when it isn't necessarily apparent in the URL.

Re:Video link (0, Troll)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317861)

In this story, one of the links is apparent that it's to a video, since the URL is a video.google... link.

Oh, by the way, I *think* I'm one of the poisonous people [ubuntuforums.org] they're referring to.

Re:Video link (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18317993)

Well your behavior was certainly out of line in that thread. Are you actually posting that link because you believe your treatment of volunteers was justified?

Re:Video link (0, Offtopic)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318093)

I'm not posting it for that reason, no.

But I still think people should read to the end of short posts; recommend non-impossible, non-drastic solutions; and follow up when someone has tried a suggestion.

Re:Video link (0, Offtopic)

Library Spoff (582122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318235)

BTW - I take it you got your MBR fixed?
Did you ever go back to ubuntu or try any other distro?

Re:Video link (-1, Troll)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318385)

BTW - I take it you got your MBR fixed?

Yes, I had a family member fix it, I think by using a Live CD or a Windows CD. (No, I didn't pirate Windows ... believe it or not, some people don't immediately know where their Windows CD is.)

Did you ever go back to ubuntu or try any other distro?

No. Poor design is my "fingernails on a blackboard". The install setup (including instructions, download site, the HIGH RECOMMENDATION of Grub, etc.) was inexcusable, so I can't justify going back to Ubuntu until I see serious improvements. Since I found out you're supposed to have a spare box when installing a new OS, I'm going to wait until my next computer purchase to try Linux, in which case I'll probably get something from Linspire.

Re:Video link (1)

Wite_Noiz (887188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318867)

I'm going to wait until my next computer purchase to try Linux, in which case I'll probably get something from Linspire.
Which makes it almost ironic that: http://linux.slashdot.org/linux/07/03/12/1037223.s html [slashdot.org] (Linspire To Switch To Kubuntu)

Since I found out you're supposed to have a spare box when installing a new OS
In fairness, that's not entirely true.
GRUB had an issue during your installation - which is unfortunate but possible with any software (I've had the Window boot manager fail on me many times) - and you didn't have a bootable CD available to you.
It's the combination of situations that led to someone suggesting you use a 'spare' computer.

Personally, I always have at least one drive lying around with a full OS installed on it that I can throw in as 0 whenever I need an alternative boot. This is in addition to numerous Live CDs.

You've hit a snag with moving OS, you've survived; learn from what happened and move on.

Re:Video link (-1, Troll)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18319171)

Which makes it almost ironic that: (Linspire To Switch To Kubuntu)

Well, I have to ascertain whether *all* Linux distros are built around poor design, or whether it was just an Ubuntu thing. The evidence leads to the former.

GRUB had an issue during your installation - which is unfortunate but possible with any software

Hundredth time: yes, that is possible with any software. But it's also possible that you can avoid unnecessary risks. You can, for example, not recommend wiping the MBR. You can have it boot from a separate drive. You can "HIGHLY RECOMMEND" the troubleshooting tools (here, the Live CD). And so on. My complaint is not that it failed, which is understandable, but that there was no backup mechanism whatsoever that the instructions said to use and that this failure locked me out entirely, making me far worse off than if I had never heard of Linux.

Personally, I always have at least one drive lying around with a full OS installed on it that I can throw in as 0 whenever I need an alternative boot.

Yeah, I had that too until Ubuntu HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that I wipe the MBR. I had it installed on a tertiary hard drive. It could have left the main one alone, but then -- that would have too much fault tolerance, wouldn't it?

You've hit a snag with moving OS, you've survived; learn from what happened and move on.

Am I not already doing that? I learned that Ubuntu would not recognize basic design principles it they bit it on the nose. Have I not predicated later actions on that knowledge?

Re:Video link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18318975)

You'll be happy to know that Linspire will be little more than Ubuntu with a name change (http://www.linspire.com/lindows_news_pressrelease s_archives.php?id=213).

Re:Video link (1)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318083)

Oh, by the way, I *think* I'm one of the poisonous people they're referring to.
You're probably right about that.

Is it really necessary to troll such a helpful forum, though? Why not troll someplace where people just flame you for not RTFMing? Those response are usually more entertaining for you, and you don't waste the time of those who are genuinely trying to help people. A regular win-win.

I'm just sayin'.

Re:Video link (-1, Troll)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318173)

Is it really necessary to troll such a helpful forum, though?

What did they do that was helpful?

Why not troll someplace where people just flame you for not RTFMing? Those response are usually more entertaining for you, and you don't waste the time of those who are genuinely trying to help people. A regular win-win.

Oh, I've done that too. Except that I wasn't intending to troll; rather, someone made responses to me that appeared to be serious but were mind-numbingly stupid, so I rhetorically abused him before going away.

No, no link. s/n had too much identifying information.

Re:Video link (2, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318165)

I think they're referring to developers specifically, so probably not.

However, your behavior in that thread does illustrate exactly the sort of thing that drives a lot of very intelligent people away from those types of mailing lists. It's not easy trying to help people, with no compensation, when you get that kind of abuse for your trouble.

Re:Video link (-1, Troll)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318239)

However, your behavior in that thread does illustrate exactly the sort of thing that drives a lot of very intelligent people away from those types of mailing lists. It's not easy trying to help people, with no compensation, when you get that kind of abuse for your trouble.

However, the design problems revealed in that thread do illustrate exactly the sort of thing that drives a lot of very intelligent people away from adopting Linux. It's not easy trying to help expand the Linux user base, with no compensation, when you get locked out of your computer and forced beg for arcane commands to re-establish access for your trouble.

Re:Video link (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318459)

The issue you faced may or may not have been a design flaw, but that does not excuse your behavior. You asked repeatedly for the logical next step, people gave you the logical next step, and you refused to take it. You seemed to go out of your way to put obstacles in place to prevent people from actually helping you. You COULD have followed the steps provided (can you seriously say you could not have found a single computer anywhere that had a CD burner on it? Give me a break). Just because a step seems needlessly complicated to you doesn't mean it isn't the best step to take.

Even if the ultimate answer to the problem was "Ubuntu is hopelessly broken," you STILL would not have been justified in acting the way you did. Even if you were paying for the support, that sort of abuse is unnecessary and usually (and definitely in this case) counter-productive.

Re:Video link (-1, Troll)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318653)

The issue you faced may or may not have been a design flaw,

No, "HIGHLY RECOMMENDING" the wiping of the MBR, without informing the user of the possible consequences, and without informing the user of lower-risk alternatives, while not recommending *at all* the very tools you will need to fix it if anything goes wrong, and which you will be unable to get to if things actually do go wrong ... IS a design flaw. No "may or may not be" about it.

You asked repeatedly for the logical next step, people gave you the logical next step, and you refused to take it.

It was the next logical step in the sense that "reformat and re-install" is the next logical step for any OS install failure. That "next logical step" was long, tedious, and infeasible. I had recently moved to a new city. I could not feasibly ask to borrow someone's high-speed connection and CD burner for an hour. I could not burn CDs at work. In the amount of time I would need to do that, I could easily have changed the three characters in the appropriate file that were messing it up.

You'll notice I *did* follow their advice through the command lines to get to the problem, and none of those did what they were expected to. I posted the results of these attempts (i.e., the *real* logical next step), and there were not followed up.

Even if the ultimate answer to the problem was "Ubuntu is hopelessly broken," you STILL would not have been justified in acting the way you did.

I wasn't claiming that in my response. I was claiming that the design problems revealed in that thread do illustrate exactly the sort of thing that drives a lot of very intelligent people away from adopting Linux, and that it's not easy trying to help expand the Linux user base, with no compensation, when you get locked out of your computer and forced beg for arcane commands to re-establish access for your trouble.

Even if you were paying for the support, that sort of abuse is unnecessary and usually (and definitely in this case) counter-productive.

Debatable. It was a wake-up call to anyone seriously confused as to why more people don't use it.

Re:Video link (1, Flamebait)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318859)

Ubuntu didn't work out for you, and the support let you down. Sorry to hear it. Now stop grinding the fucking axe already and move the fuck on. If I had less respect for the community, I'd probably have given you deliberately wrong answers just to see you flip your lid one more time.

Re:Video link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18319057)

"Debatable. It was a wake-up call to anyone seriously confused as to why more people don't use it."
You should not treat people the way you did in that forum. Figure out how to make your point in another manner. They're still people.

Are we still trying to have a civilization?

MOD PARENT DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18318293)

I'm used to you trolling the Ubuntu stories crying about your terrible experience installing Linux, but at least you kept the bitching to a story that was (at least tangentially) related to ubuntu. Now you're just looking for any excuse to bitch. Mod parent down, he's trying to ignite a flamewar, AGAIN.

Re:Video link (1)

wynler (678277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318299)

I actually use your thread when pointing out to people why Linux fails to gain acceptance on the desktop in both a home and corporate environment.  I also point my clients to this thread anytime someone suggests using a linux distribution without a support contract.

Basically the failure of being able to provide reliable support for a frustrated and disgruntled user really hurts the image of Linux and reinforces the stereotype of techies as being arrogant and condescending.

Re:Video link (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18318533)

Let's see - Linxu fails to gain acceptance because
People buy Windows and, with it, get support then they download Linux for free and do not buy support but expect free forums to provide the same level of support. Yeah, you're really smart.

Re:Video link (3, Insightful)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318679)

Wow, you tell people not to use Linux without a support contract based on one nasty incident? Has it really never occurred to you just how ridiculous that is? I've heard of one nasty incident regarding verizon [blogspot.com], and I'm sure I could quickly find one nasty incident for every other major cell phone company. Does that mean I shouldn't have a cell phone? I'm quite certain that I could easily find one nasty incident involving Microsoft's and Apple's tech support as well.

You've blown one bad apple entirely out of proportion. Now I'm not saying that we should sweep it under the rug, either, but surely a broader picture, including the myriad uneventful, unnoticed except by those few directly involved, and extremely helpful support threads, would be far more accurate. Yes, the failure to provide reliable support does hurt the image of linux and techies in general. However, your constant rehashing of this single incident hurts those images much much more.

Re:Video link (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318971)

Yes, it is an object lesson in what you get with unpaid community support: people with more good intentions than problem-solving skill, and too much forbearance to someone who they should have banned from their community message boards a long time ago.

So yeah, demand everything for free and occasionally you get what you pay for. And they even take your unending abuse for months at a time before writing you off. How about that.

Re:Video link (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318847)

Oh, by the way, I *think* I'm one of the poisonous people they're referring to.

Why yes, yes you are.
Welcome to Slashdot !

Re:Video link (4, Insightful)

Kamots (321174) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318911)

Well, that thread made me decide that I'm going to give Linux a try again, and I'll be going with ubuntu when I do so.

Looking at how much patience and help they showed *you*, I can only imagine at how much they'll help a polite noob!

What really scares me about you though, is that it's been a year since that conversation, and yet you're still this venomous towards them, and still can't see what you did wrong. :/

Re:Video link (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18318991)

Wow. You, sir, are a tool and an asshole. I have suspected this based on many of your other /. posts, but I have now had it most thoroughly confirmed by this support thread.

Grow up, learn not to bite the hand that feeds you, and try to cooperate better with people in the future.

"Does not play well with others..."

Barking up the wrong tree (1)

karmaflux (148909) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318441)

If the word "videoplay" in the URI didn't help you I'm not sure that a (video) tag would.

What I learned working on NetBSD (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18317789)

There is only 1 rule to keeping malcontents out -

(1) Stay away from Theo DeRaadt (or Theo the Rat, as I always called him)

Yeah public BURN take that Theo.

Re:What I learned working on NetBSD (3, Interesting)

dosius (230542) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318067)

I'll say it out, I don't like Theo de Raadt's hostile attitude, but I do like the way he's adamant about what he believes in, and actually does something about it.

I don't like the GNU project, not because of a distaste for free software, but because of a distaste for crufted-together bloatware that feels like the Microsoft of Unix. And have I done something? I'm actually working on getting the leaner, meaner, BSD stuff up on my system in place of gnuware. A lot of that comes from NetBSD and OpenBSD.

I mean seriously, when my own fully functional version of "echo" is 4116 bytes stripped, how come GNU's is 13880, and all it has mine doesn't is --help and --version? (Both are dynamically linked.)
-uso.

Re:What I learned working on NetBSD (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18318273)

You'll find that most of that 'bloat' is actually robustness code, error condition checking, etc., ...the stuff that makes most GNU tools /prefered/ by admins. That incredibly alpha-quality 'BSD gzip' that shipped with NetBSD-2.0-RELEASE was a joke. I can't wait to see what a fiasco a 'BSD rsync' turns out to be.

Re:What I learned working on NetBSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18318511)

Your version of "life" happens to have even less bytes than those of Gentoo devs!

Re:What I learned working on NetBSD (1)

zdebel (1072398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318939)

Um, what's wrong in redoing something to make it faster and smaller ? Nowadays most programmers just take all libraries they can get, to simplify the process of programming, and produce bloated code, when they could just write their own functions, smaller which would suit their needs, and yes, I do that quite a lot, and when I need to use a library, I take time to choose the better one.

Re:What I learned working on NetBSD (3, Insightful)

Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) | more than 7 years ago | (#18319473)

Computer time is more plentiful than human time.

Faster hardware is cheaper than better programmers, and much easier to find, and you know when you got good hardware, but you can think you've got a good programmer and be really wrong.

Re:What I learned working on NetBSD (2, Insightful)

micah_hainline (1022705) | more than 7 years ago | (#18319077)

when my own fully functional version of "echo" is 4116 bytes stripped, how come GNU's is 13880?
Why would you use binary size as a metric here? Does it matter? Is the billionth part of a modern hard drive so important to you? Far more important is maintainability of the code base, robustness, and a thousand other things. Unless you are running this on an Atari 2600 [wikipedia.org] you shouldn't need to worry about the size of your echo program. I mean, it's echo for the love of Mike.

Re:What I learned working on NetBSD (1)

zdebel (1072398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18319203)

It's exactly that way of thinking that produces so much bloat these days, you say there's no point in making echo smaller and more simple (of course, you DO realise it's just an example, right?), and people take that to a higher level, 'why should I optimise, rethink my code, when we have 2 GB's of RAM, dualcore cpu's, 300 GB HDD's' and so on.

Re:What I learned working on NetBSD (2, Insightful)

dosius (230542) | more than 7 years ago | (#18319209)

That's exactly my point: why does echo have to be that big? What's it doing? Efficiency isn't just for ancient computers, and the lack of efficiency in today's software is driving people to buy ever faster hardware just to run at the same damn speeds they used to get on their old hardware, with their old software.

Hell, WordPerfect 5.0 ran faster on my old 12 MHz 286 than OpenOffice.org 2.x runs on my 2 GHz Sempron - and had pretty much all the functionality I need in a word processor even now.

-uso.

Re:What I learned working on NetBSD (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18319165)

I mean seriously, when my own fully functional version of "echo" is 4116 bytes stripped, how come GNU's is 13880, and all it has mine doesn't is --help and --version? (Both are dynamically linked.

See it for yourself:
OpenBSD `echo': http://www.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/cvsweb/src/bin/echo /echo.c?rev=1.6&content-type=text/x-cvsweb-markup [openbsd.org]
GNU `echo': http://cvs.sv.gnu.org/viewcvs/coreutils/coreutils/ src/echo.c?view=markup [gnu.org]

GNU version supports de-escaping the parameters before printing them while your version probably doesn't.

Re:What I learned working on NetBSD (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18318087)

Hey, don't badmouth Theo just because he didn't like your "Let's install Firefox suid root!" idea.

I'll tell you about this one guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18317827)

he goes around calling us all "FUCKING IDIOTS" and "INTERFACE NAZI'S", we try to tell him to put down some constructive criticism - even though its an area he has no expertise in - but he just refuses, sometimes even sending in "advice" which will go against the whole ethos of the project.
 

Re:I'll tell you about this one guy (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318009)

You haven't banned him because...?

Re:I'll tell you about this one guy (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18318129)

You haven't banned him because...?


Because he's my boss.

Re:I'll tell you about this one guy (3, Interesting)

statusbar (314703) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318047)

My favourite one is the netfilter guy's response to Dan Kegel's patch on the horrible file name layout in the linux netfilter directory, where there are multiple h and c files with the same file name, differing only by case. 'ipt_TOS.c' has a different purpose than 'ipt_tos.c' - Is this elementary school programming style or what?

Lots of people wanting to cross-compile linux, or even just do an 'svn co/cvs co' of a project which includes linux source get hooped.

from: http://lists.netfilter.org/pipermail/netfilter-dev el/2004-October/017154.html [netfilter.org]

..we don't really care..

You should actually start an opposite effort: Make it harder for them, so it is enough pain to switch to a linux development system. Please note, this is my personal opinion - not to be conflicted with the technical reasons given above.

--jeffk++

Re:I'll tell you about this one guy (1)

segedunum (883035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318803)

The Netfilter guys have a very weird and high and mighty attitude. I can remember Linus giving them some stick for Netfilter being needlessly incompatible with 2.6.20.

Re:I'll tell you about this one guy (1)

SendBot (29932) | more than 7 years ago | (#18319331)

wow, reading that whole post painted the author to be quite a pretentious jerk ("Problem? IIRC, I don't care."). Dan Kiegel's response [netfilter.org] was very well written and solution-oriented, a great model on how to deal with problem people and very relevant to the article.

Also Harald misspelled 'distinction', which makes it hard to take him seriously when asserting the value of colliding namespace like that.

Re:I'll tell you about this one guy (1)

Samrobb (12731) | more than 7 years ago | (#18319443)

In this case, the internet provides an example of how to deal with problems like this: you route around it.

Cygwin introduced managed mounts [cygwin.com] specifically to enable developers to deal with issues like this. Using managed mounts can be a bother, but isn't nearly as annoying as not being able to cross-compile at all.

Yeah, let's get rid of the people we won't like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18317889)

Let's try and identify potential malcontents before they destroy our community! Then we can hound them out and humiliate them. What a wonderful way to ensure our project stays all happy and peaceful. What could possibly go wrong?

If the poison is at the core/root/top... (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317967)

... does that explain why I'm still waiting to see the HURD in action?

RMS seems like he'd be a tough guy to work with/for. I've always wondered if his personality doesn't slow down GNU development in general.

OTOH, Linus seems like a generally amiable dude, and the Linux community has grown more than I ever would have thought possible 10 years ago.

Re:If the poison is at the core/root/top... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318207)

Possible. It could be because Linux and the BSDs already work and are much farther along so people would rather work on Linux.
Or it could be that Linux gets a lot of commercial support and those companies pay developers to work on Linux. Google, SGI, Intel, Red Hat, Novell, and IBM come to mind.
Or it could be that Hurd doesn't offer enough improvement over Linux to make it that exciting.
You can download Hurd now if you want and try it out.

Re:If the poison is at the core/root/top... (1)

iabervon (1971) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318243)

RMS isn't directly involved in particularly much GNU development, as far as I can tell, at this point. I think he mainly works on emacs (and does a lot of non-development arguing with people).

Linus is extremely blunt, but he's almost always right, and he's as free with praise as with flamage. For kernel development, he and Andrew Morton have a good dynamic: Linus tells you your code sucks (or that it's great, if you've done something amazing), and Andrew leads you through improving it. Linus, remarkably, also occasionally appologizes for flaming people.

Re:If the poison is at the core/root/top... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18318825)

Linus is extremely blunt, but he's almost always right, and he's as free with praise as with flamage.

No, Linus isn't "almost always right", he merely gives answers that appeal to the demographic of people who listen to him and tries to lend authority to his statements by flamage.

Re:If the poison is at the core/root/top... (1)

cparker15 (779546) | more than 7 years ago | (#18319187)

Based on my experience, the primary reason why we still don't have a stable Hurd at this point is infighting. There are several camps of people within the Hurd development "team", some of them so far separated they refuse to even be in the same IRC channel as eachother. This infighting has a few different causes, the main one being with people's impatience with eachother's ideas. Another cause is, more or less, grandstanding. Also, the fact, that some people want to port Hurd over to L4 or Coyotos while others want to stay with Mach doesn't help, either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Hurd#Choice_of_mi crokernel [wikipedia.org]

RMS has little to do with any of it.

OTOH, there is a pretty high-priority movement to get GNU(/Hurd) packaged and officially released, which, based on what I last saw, has the support of everyone mentioned above: http://gnu.org/s/packaging [gnu.org] & http://www.update.uu.se/~ams/home/todo [update.uu.se]

HURD is SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18319227)

stratjakt wrote:

... does that explain why I'm still waiting to see the HURD in action?
...

HURD is 17, give or take a few months. Can you believe it...started around 1990....

Not every "poisonous" person is easy to spot (5, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317969)

Every open source project runs into people who are selfish, uncooperative, and disrespectful.

Those are easy to deal with. The problem is with people who, under the cover of "doing good to the project", make everybody hate everybody else. Those usually spread rumors around, go tell John that Jack, frankly, doesn't work enough, while at the same time telling Jack that John, really, isn't leading the project in the right direction, etc...

We've had plenty of those at the company. More often than not, those are what we usually called "software diva", people whom management think are indispensable, and therefore should be more or less allowed to do or say anything.

My way of dealing with these folks was usually simple: single them out at the weekley meeting, sum up the shit they've been spewing around, and tell them they're allowed to run free with whatever they thought was best on a local fork of the project for a week and prove they're right and/or better and/or more efficient than Jack or John. Failing to prove it, they'd be relegated to the line-pisser pool, otherwise they could take my place as team lead. Usually the result was the software diva leaving the meeting all offended, and half of the time resigning after a couple of days. Public shame and the threat of putting their supposed programming skills where their mouth is is a very efficient method of putting these people in their place.

Re:Not every "poisonous" person is easy to spot (1)

c0d3r (156687) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318105)

I'd totally agree with this person. The best way is to be straight and direct to the person in the eyes of all, and avoid stupid games, sugar coating, allusions and eupemisims. Unfortunately, no one seems to have the balls to do tell them to their face.

Re:Not every "poisonous" person is easy to spot (3, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18319087)

Ever since the harassment case, I'm required by law to leave my balls at home.
Besides, it's balls that usually start the problems in the first place.

Re:Not every "poisonous" person is easy to spot (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318117)

I wish that would work at my company, we are big enough that instead of this working it'd likely backfire into the person doing this causing a hostile work environment and being fired for it... Sounds like it'd be quite effective at getting the point across though.
I work in a service position, equipment maintenance specifically. I have a problem with my customers giving me overly vague complaints about a piece of equipment being broken (along the lines of the "something broken, something fixed" AF workorder that makes its rounds in the e-mail list of crap mechanics put in airplane maintenance records) so I have no idea where to look. The users then get offended that their issue is tagged low priority (which is usually a death sentence). I've gone to the lengths of keeping a full Excel spreadsheet and embed the issue complaint in the worksheet along with all the other useful details, thus when the inevitable bitch-fight erupts at a staff meeting I can open my spreadsheet and say: Here's the verbatim complaint, doesn't look that important". So far I have yet to lose one of the pissing contests and it's had the wonderful side effect that the issue reports have slowly been improving in detail.

Re:Not every "poisonous" person is easy to spot (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318119)

I hope some of them react a little better and actually perform well.
Otherwise your projects must get awfully behind having to replace all those code monkeys?

I'm all for getting devs to put their money where their mouths are but would generally do it a little more tactfully.

A good developer *is* going to be a diva, they do things specifically different to other people and your actions might actually have lost you very good developers who could have done the work very well but for the public humiliation part.

Re:Not every "poisonous" person is easy to spot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18318527)

Sweet.

Re:Not every "poisonous" person is easy to spot (2, Insightful)

mutube (981006) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318773)

Public shame and the threat of putting their supposed programming skills where their mouth is is a very efficient method of putting these people in their place.

When I ran a very (very) small project I simply assigned these folk to minor sub-projects away from other people. You either discover that they can work (but don't mix well with people) or that they're incapable.

If it's the second then a public demonstration of that fact will take the wind out of their sails. If it's the first you've solved the problem already.

Re:Not every "poisonous" person is easy to spot (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 7 years ago | (#18319239)

Uh, yeah. Try that with a person of color or female, and see how fast your ass gets sued. Great idea, that.

hmm (5, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#18317983)

Every open source project runs into people who are selfish, uncooperative, and disrespectful.

AKA "coders".

Easily (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18317989)

Get a dizzying intellect. Oh, and build up an immunity to iocane.

I don't... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18317997)

...need Youtube videos to know howto tell people that I'd rather fork the project than continue working with them.

...uh.. oh... so this article is about me?

You mean.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18318027)

...like Eric S. Raymond?

Re:You mean.... (2, Informative)

fishyfool (854019) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318251)

No, They mean like Jeff Merkey. Ever read some of his comments to the Linux Kernel mailing list? hoo boy.

Re:You mean.... (4, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318517)

Eric S Raymond poisons the whole movement, not any particular project. To do that, he would actually have to participate in one of them.

Re:You mean.... (4, Interesting)

Syberghost (10557) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318715)

To do that, he would actually have to participate in one of them.

Can you name a single Linux distribution that doesn't include at least two programs to which Eric S. Raymond has contributed code, EXCLUDING fetchmail?

698 packages on my Ubuntu system depend on libncurses5, which has Raymond code in it, for example.

Re:You mean.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18318741)

You mean like spending two years creating a decent build system for linux that unearthed all sorts of conflicts and issues with the existing methods. And then being told they no longer want it because a couple of key devs didn't want a python based application, despite Torvalds agreeing to it?

Or maybe you mean spamassassin?

Perhaps you mean the "open source" moniker that removed all confusion and naff factor associated with "free software"?

Yes, I see your point. Never participated in anything. No one ever read the cathedral and the bazaar I suppose?

Re:You mean.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18318845)

He's too busy leaving flowers on Pinoche's grave to participate.

They should know (-1, Troll)

0xABADC0DA (867955) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318071)

Seventy percent of the files in my repository are from subversion overhead. They used to even store a file called "zero" which was a zero-byte file under every svn-controlled folder. Over half the space is taken up by local copies (1.5g) even though I am on gigabit ethernet and haven't once done a 'svn revert' on the entire repository... but if I did it sure would be fast. Meanwhile the main benefit of local copies (fast diffs and status) is broken because if you edit/replace a file in 1 sec after doing an update then svn may completely ignore the changes. And yes this actually happened to me... build new binary -> svn update -> copy binary into svn tree -> svn ignores it.

It's no wonder they of all people should be giving a talk on how to deal with malcontents. Monotone may also have some problems of its own, but at least they get these things right and have a different approach. Subversion's claim to fame is that it is 'slightly better than CVS'. That makes me angry. I just wish next time they could give a talk on writing good software.

I believe they call it... (5, Interesting)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318145)

...assassination in the journals. Quick, clean, and ensures they can't just be transferred to another department to create headaches for someone else.

A guy on P5Porters back in the day was like that (2, Interesting)

terraformer (617565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318253)

There was a guy named Ilya who would clash with people regularly on perl5 porters back in the 99-00 days but I tell you, he was a huge contributer to perl and it would not be where it is without him. But he did cause a lot of social issues within the group and we lost other really good developers because of him. Not sure where the net loss/gain fell on that one, but it is an interesting problem to have witnessed first hand.

Re:A guy on P5Porters back in the day was like tha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18318681)

Was this Ilia Alshanetsky?

pick your poison (4, Insightful)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318427)

People like Stallman, Torvalds, or van Rossum are not the nicest or easiest people to get along with. Nor, for that matter, are commercial software leaders like Jobs or Gates. It takes a certain degree of focus and arrogance to lead big software projects and to make the tough decisions that need to be made.

On the other hand, malcontents are often malcontent for good reason--look at the dispute over the Xfree86/X.org split. Sometimes,someone who is an effective leader on one project is making a nuisance of himself on another, like when Torvalds was interfering with the Gnome project.

So, it's OK for open source project leaders to dismiss "malcontents" and focus. On the other hand, those "malcontents" are often going to be right and justified, and they may fork your project and make you irrelevant.

Re:pick your poison (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18318593)

It takes a certain degree of focus and arrogance to lead big software projects and to make the tough decisions that need to be made.

It doesn't take any arrogance, all it takes is the ability to say "No" and not feel like you need to justify your answer to every code monkey who thinks it is his job to challenge you rather then implement the functionality you requested of them.

Having spearheaded many company wide custom software projects one of the few things I have learned is that the three most powerful words you can say to are "I don't know" and that "No." is a complete answer.

Re:pick your poison (3, Insightful)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#18319023)

It doesn't take any arrogance, all it takes is the ability to say "No" and not feel like you need to justify your answer to every code monkey who thinks it is his job to challenge you rather then implement the functionality you requested of them.

Thank you for illustrating my point.

Re:pick your poison (2, Insightful)

Cee (22717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318933)

People like Stallman, Torvalds, or van Rossum are not the nicest or easiest people to get along with. Nor, for that matter, are commercial software leaders like Jobs or Gates.

Well, how do we know that? Most of us only know whats written about them. Sure, they have strong opinions but that doesn't necessarily make them hard to work with.

Question for the Subversion Developers (-1, Troll)

ThoreauHD (213527) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318565)

Where the HELL IS THE SUBVERSION CLIENT FOR LINUX?

Who are you to be giving advice on poison?

You ever try to recompile your code? Header.. Spec file.. What's that?

Frankly, I'm getting tired of it. (5, Interesting)

VanessaE (970834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318677)

In the past I've run into a few coders on different projects, some who are just contributors, others who are the "main" coder on some project. More times than I can count, I've had coders tell me, "Oh, it's your hardware, my code works fine, sod off." That's just plain laziness, when the coder won't entertain the idea that maybe, just *maybe*, their program is buggy. Then, there's the other type I've encountered that says, basically, "I wrote this program for myself. You want Feature X, you code it!" All I have to say is that if the program was written for your own use and you didn't want people filing bug reports, why the hell did you release it to the world? All you're doing then is giving open source a black mark.


The final type of person, the one that bothers me perhaps the most, is the coder or contributor who simply doesn't answer bug reports or emails (whatever the appropriate method may be) at all, even after several weeks of waiting. Are you guys *trying* to turn your users away!?

People really do see those buggy programs, folks. They show up in lists of stuff at places like FM and SF. If you think your code is good and you want to release it, great! But if you won't consider bug fixes, keep the damn thing to yourself and/or contribute your code to an already-existing project instead.

I've been a programmer since 1986 on another platform, but stopped in around 2000 and haven't come back since (outdated platform anyway, so my "skillz" don't exactly translate to modern programming methods), and I have never once considered telling someone off like these examples. What went wrong? When did the F/OSS community start to gain this elitist attitude?

Mod me down if you want, I don't care. I've got the karma to burn.

What if the poisonous person is project leader? (2, Interesting)

networkz (27842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318711)

But the project itself is a good idea.

Fork?

Tomcat (1)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318807)

Did anyone say "Tomcat" or "JBoss"?

Never mind the developers/contributors, it is severely disconcerting to users of the code (and managers of those users) to feel that an OSS project is staffed by developer-hating truth-dodging self-regarding sociopaths.

Did anyone see the recent(ish) furore about synchronisation on session objects in Tomcat 5? I refuse to use any Tomcat newer than 4 until I think that someone not wedded to the sound of their own voice will take advice and rejoin the real world and make things *safe* without attempting to bend the spec out of whack to suit their own warped view of the world, programming and thread-safety!

Goodness.

Rgds

Damon

Seen it... (2, Insightful)

thrill12 (711899) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318857)

...and have serious problems with some of the things they are advocating.
A large part of the video was toned negative. Only the word "poisonous people" is enough to know what they are thinking. Yes, there are mistakes certain people make that can be *called* poisonous, and could indeed destroy your project, but don't label the *person* but the *behaviour*.
Apart from being very undiplomatic, you run the risk of losing good people in your OSS project just because you get anal about someone not 'doing things by the book'.

An example is the "CVS date-parser contributor", where the guy wanted his name on top of the file, but SVN-dev rules stated not to. Instead of talking diplomacy, and getting a solution that satisfies both developer as community - the code was good as they said - they throw out the code *and the person who wrote it*. Maybe this example was bad, and the person was thrown out because of other reasons, but they made it an example in their video so that's the fact right now..

I think I would like a label for OSS projects that handle people this way: cactus-OSS communities - they can grow great software, but press the wrong part and you get hurt so much you don't want anything to do with it.
Seriously, if you're running an OSS project by all means protect it, but try to change the behaviour people portray rather than kick them out. Kicking out a developer should be a last resort, as it on itself could have serious implications for the status of the OSS project imho.

Re:Seen it... (5, Informative)

slipsuss (36760) | more than 7 years ago | (#18319281)

I think you misunderstood that part of our talk.

We didn't boot any person at all, we simply rejected the offered patch. The person wasn't a member of the community, just a drive-by patch contributor.... we didn't "throw him out", because he wasn't "in" to begin with! Patch contributions are great things, but if we can't come to an agreement, then that's the end of things. The person wasn't interested in resubmitting without his name attached to the patch, so we had to reject the patch. Our honest hope was that not only would he contribute his patch properly, but that he'd become a regular committer too. Instead, he was annoyed at us and walked away. C'est la vie, we're not going to change our code submission rules for a single visitor. Twas a shame.

Re:Seen it... (4, Interesting)

fitz (2205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18319489)

Did you really watch the talk? Regarding the date-parser contributor, we talked diplomacy quite a lot, but the simple fact was that adding your name to the source code was not negotiable in our community. We never kicked the guy out--he left on his own accord when he realized that our rules weren't going to change to accommodate him.

The whole point of that anecdote was to illustrate the importance of not compromising your community ideals for one person, even if they come bearing code. Stand your ground, and if someone is not willing to play by your rules, then they'll leave.

Oh, and the whole point of the "Poisonous People" title was to a) get your attention and b) address a perceived shortcoming in many open source communities. If we had talked for an hour about "How to have a loving and happy community", everyone would have been asleep ten minutes in. ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Griefers (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318907)

(Would someone summarize? Don't have time to watch 55 minutes of talking head video.)

MMORPGs have the same problem, with "griefers". The trick is to design the system so that a griefer can't annoy a disproportionate number of people.

The classic line is "It takes ten honest people to support one crook". That's very real; when the fraction of troublemakers gets too large, nobody can get anything done. Happens routinely in bad neighborhoods and war zones.

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