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Why not? Isn't it a useful way to teach people to start looking at the effect (both direct and on maintainability) of their own work critically and to think less sentimentally about their code?
Plenty of people have told me some code that I wrote was stupid and been right. I am generally grateful for the reality check.
LinuxCon Japan: Making kernel developers less grumpy
Posted Jun 12, 2012 6:20 UTC (Tue) by liw (subscriber, #6379)
For most instances of Bob, it doesn't help him to be taught that way. Some instances of Bob don't care, and will learn anyway, but those instances are in the minority. The majority of Bobs will be upset, and hurt, and will have a hard time accepting any lessons from the experience, and indeed may well have a harder time accepting any lessons from that teacher in the future.
Now, it's true that the emotional lives of 8-year-olds and adults are different. On the whole, adults can take more emotional stress and conflict, but the general effect is the same, just less strong.
There is a subset of programmers who have what is called a thick skin: they can take a lot more abuse than the average person without being upset much. Given the way text-only communication over the Internet tends to filter away subtle emotional expressions, it's very easy to express yourself in a way that seems neutral to you, but feels hurtful to the recipient. Without an effort to avoid that, mailing lists for free software development tend to push out those who are more easily hurt, making the list be mainly populated by those with thick skins.
That's not a good thing. Apart from any moral aspects, it reduces the number of potential participants a lot: those who submit patches and feel hurt, and those who are watching and decide to not even submit a patch.
Note that this is all about how you express criticism, not at all about having to be accepting and supporting of anyone who submits any kind of patch. It's perfectly fine to criticize and reject patches. You can, however, be nice about it.
Posted Jun 12, 2012 7:23 UTC (Tue) by bronson (subscriber, #4806)
There's no need to encourage every mediocre Bob. There's only a need to encourage excellent, self-motivated Roberts, and to actively discourage well-meaning but noisy Bobbies.
Posted Jun 12, 2012 8:03 UTC (Tue) by dgm (subscriber, #49227)
Posted Jun 12, 2012 8:36 UTC (Tue) by dgm (subscriber, #49227)
Last time I looked there was not a shortage of people submitting patches, but of people reviewing them. And also, when calling someone "a moron" openly on a mailing lists opens yourself to a lot of criticism, thus people try to avoid doing it unless they have good reasons.
In practice (not that I follow LKML that much lately, but still) I haven't seen people calling newbies "noob" or "stupid" just because, but when they did something stupid indeed. If someone does, they tend to get routed around by the rest of the community, because they tend to be "toxic" people.
To summarize: If Linus Torvalds calls you names, better pay attention. And better ask first and try to educate yourself before posting stuff on a mailing list full of busy people.
And let me tell you a little tale, too:
"Bob has come to the kitchen, where his father is cooking dinner. While his father is not looking, he grabs a knife and starts cutting some vegetables, just like he has seen his father do so many times. But Bob is not very good at handling the knife, and it's too big for his hands. His father, hearing the noise, tells his son how to properly handle the knife, and then keeps on with the cooking. A minute later both are running to the hospital because Bob has a deep bleeding cut on his left hand.
After that episode, Bob's father tries to avoid using harsh words. It's his own fault, after all. A week later, while Bob's father observes the remains of the burnt family kitchen, he cannot avoid to ask himself if this all could have been prevented somehow."
Posted Jun 14, 2012 8:55 UTC (Thu) by spanezz (subscriber, #56653)
My feeling of distress towards people advocating mocking people in public is kind of being shadowed by your disturbing choice of example.
I would expect that any normal father would, on seeing that Bob is playing with a dangerous knife, tell him that he should help dad with that only after he grew up a bit and has more experience with dangerous tools. And if Bob is really interested in helping with knives, give him a small blunt knife to help cut soft fruit for the fruit salad.
That also sounds like a reasonable, grown up reply (aside of course of the patronising tone) to inexperienced but eager people wasting other people's time on LKML.
Posted Jun 17, 2012 7:17 UTC (Sun) by yeti-dn (guest, #46560)
Posted Jun 12, 2012 17:28 UTC (Tue) by gregkh (subscriber, #8)
So, something we are doing is correct here. Remember, we have a overabundance of kernel developers, and we purposefully waste their time in order to make the project better overall. And so far, it seems to be working, if you think otherwise, that's great, how do you prove that?
Posted Jun 13, 2012 4:57 UTC (Wed) by jrn (subscriber, #64214)
I agree with what you said. It suggests to me that providing a strong critique is not always good, at least in public, unless you are very tactful. Better to find a minimal set of hints that makes it clear what people interested in the patch can do next.
Posted Jun 13, 2012 18:02 UTC (Wed) by bronson (subscriber, #4806)
Neither of which is currently the case.
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