Posted Jun 14, 2012 19:31 UTC (Thu) by alstrup (subscriber, #24272)
In reply to: On mocking by hummassa
Parent article: On mocking
LWN has written about this many times. The articles are basically the same: Mockery comes from developers that are annoyed by someone, and to prevent that person from annoying them again, they mock them.
The articles imply that mocking is always bad behaviour. It is insensitive, exclusive and unfriendly to people and turns them away. The advise is always that the community should behave more politely and never mock people.
This is too simplistic a point of view, and the logical outcome will be a loss of not only culture, but also rationale thought.
The basic emotion behind all of this is anger. Anger is a basic emotion we are all born with. If someone, directly, directed at you alone, goes against something that is important to you in an attempt to hurt you, you will feel anger. The biological reason for this basic emotion is to build up energy to help you protect yourself against the threat.
Your heart rate increases, you might clench your fists, and you start to sweat.
However, even if you find yourself in that situation, it might not be that someone is out to get you. You might be experiencing irrational anger:
You might see a threat, but there is in fact none. The other party might simply not know that what they did went against your values, because they can not read your mind and know what values you have. The threat is simply only in your mind. Each person have different sensitivities.
If someone mocks you on the public mailing list, the person behind has no way of knowing whether you find that offensive or not, and they can not see your reaction. So when it happens, rather than immediately conclude that they are indeed out to offend you, consider whether they share your perspective on that kind of communication. You can even ask them directly in private mail: Are you trying to hurt me because I annoy you for some reason, or are you just being creative?
You might be surprised that maybe they value a good mocking. Some people find it hilarious both to send and receive creative outbursts of insults. Yes, it might be triggered because you annoyed them a bit, but the punishment is often intentionally way out of proportions. You can call these people freaks of nature, but the fact is that many of them are very intelligent, and also very friendly people.
So before you conclude that they response should trigger your anger, look for signs that point in the other direction.
What could be signs that people like a good mocking, and they are not as annoyed as you would think?
What could be a sign that people like anything?
If people do something again and again, maybe they enjoy it!
If they use very creative words and phrasings, they are probably not that upset, but just having a bit of fun.
So when find yourself under fire, take a moment and consider whether the person behind it really wanted to hurt you personally? Is there really a threat?
Is it rational or irrational anger you are feeling?
And for those that mock people, consider the same: If you are annoyed by someone, take a moment to figure out whether your anger is rational or irrational. Did the newbie intentionally want to waste your time, or were they just sloppy without realizing that you treasure your time a lot and have seen this thing 100 times before?
If so, make sure your mockery is completely out of proportion so it is clear to all that you are having a bit of fun after you wasted time with that piece of crap.