Exactly! It seems like the author (Jake) didn't appreciate the enormous volume of work required in a big project just to keep it going with the times; and in the end just to be readable. Even reformatting (of highly messy code) and guideline compliance (sometimes sorely needed) are necessary tasks when you have a huge pile of code, or it grows stuff with time. The kernel is already 16 years old; have you ever had to face 16-yo badly maintained code?
But Viro's original message points to exhibit A, which is a particularly annoying patch: it doesn't even switch all tabs to spaces, but it changes the last tab of three to five spaces to align the left bracket. Not the most useful thing in the world, not even within the category of "reformatting".
Quoting his second message:
I *am* concerned about new contributors. Especially ones doing janitor-style work, and yes, it's a great way to get started and it's very much needed. What I've been seeing during the last months is continued devaluation of such work in general.For good developers reformatting is just the prelude of useful work. For bad developers (which is really Viro's concern) it is a way of life, and that leads to treatises about whitespace. Not useful. Can those mindless developers acquire the necessary skills to do useful work?
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