The major strength of the Open Source development model is that people contribute to get a
problem fixed that *they* have. I believe that most contributors to the linux kernel fix
problems they have or work on features they need (privately or as part of their job).
Who needs whitespace-correct code? Only people who need to work with the source code later on.
I wonder how long the "I want to get involved in Linux kernel development because it's cool"
motivation can last. But the "I have this (e. g. embedded) system and I get this OOPS every
*third* time I do *that*" motivation can last until the problem is fixed in the mainline
I believe that helping newbies who report errors or strange behaviour and showing them how
they can find out what is wrong will eventually lead to interesting contributions, much more
that discussion on how to deal with whitespace patches.