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Subject: Re: Apology, and a period of break.

Re: Apology, and a period of break.

From: Antony Stone <Antony.Stone_at_rockbox.open.source.it>
Date: Sun, 21 Jun 2009 12:32:27 +0100

On Saturday 20 June 2009 19:32, Bryan Childs wrote:

> 2009/6/20 Tomer Shalev <shalev.tomer_at_gmail.com>
>
> > Many times you responded newbie's questions: "Support question belong to
> > XXX", "Bug reports belong to XXX" etc, closing the issue.
> > I would suggest a more frie'ndly approach: You should provide a short and
> > simple answer, and following it, write "If you would like further
> > assistance, please open a new support issue for this question in XXX, as
> > this is not the right place to ask."
> > You can even open that issue yourself, refering to the original post.
>
> I think this suggestion shows a clear lack of understand of the volume of
> work Paul has done on the forums. You only have to look at his post count
> to see he spends WAY more time there answering questions than anyone else.
> And now you're telling him that's not good enough, and he needs to spend
> even MORE time there. Really, did you even think about this response before
> you wrote it ?

Another way of looking at this is that someone in Paul's position could spend
a little more time on _some_ answers, being helpful and responsive as Tomer
suggests, as well as referring people to the other sources of information, at
the expense of leaving _other_ answers to other people.

No-one expects one person to respond to all the posts on the list, but a
generally friendlier response on the list (from everyone) to most of the
questions would be appreciated by a far wider audience than just the one
person who asked the question.

I wonder how many people, sufficiently technically competent to take part in a
port of Rockbox to a new platform for example, have joined the mailing lists
to see how things work and what sort of discussions take place, only to leave
without making any contribution to getting Rockbox working better, or on
other hardware, simply because they decide they don't want to be part of a
community which works the way this one does?

Okay, the number of people that might apply to is probably pretty small, but
what about the people who think about using Rockbox, see how the mailing
lists are run, and then just buy an iPod running Apple software instead?

> Now that Paul has stepped away from the forums, don't expect the rules to
> get relaxed. It's not going to happen.

Has anyone "in charge" of these rules stopped recently to consider whether
these rules are in the best interests of the Rockbox project, and the user /
developer community as a whole?

I'm familiar with many varied forums and mailing lists, and Rockbox is
certainly the most extreme that I've come across in terms of telling people
they've broken the rules, posted in the wrong way, asked the question in the
wrong place, and basically, by all these things, generally pissing people
off.

Certainly, it's for the manager/s of a mailing list to decide what's
acceptable behaviour and what isn't, but it is really best for the Rockbox
project to be so picky (and clearly, in many people's opinion, petty) about
dealing with the postings which appear on the lists?

How about relaxing the rules for the benefit of Rockbox in general, rather
than enforcing them for the benefit of those who think rules are more
important than friendliness, cooperation, and encouragement?

I would be very surprised indeed if the Rockbox list maintainers (by which I
mean the people who decide upon the rules for posting and responding to posts
on the list) are not also members of other, similar, open source project
lists, and I wonder whether they've compared their experiences between
Rockbox and other communities, and really think that the Rockbox lists are
better than those others, not in terms of whether people stick to the rules,
but in terms of usefulness and encouragement to the people developing, using,
and potentially improving the software being discussed on each list?

After all, what is Open Source all about? Obeying the rules, or helping to
improve the software, helping others to use the software, and helping to
encourage others to contribute to the software?

> What's going to happen is a lot of people aren't going to get any answers at
> all, because the rest of us just don't have the time and energy that Paul
> has had in answering all those questions tirelessly, and very often
> thanklessly.

Let's see. I think there's also a possibility that if other people notice
that a question has gone unanswered (and bear in mind that Paul was often
remarkably quick at responding to postings, so we have no idea how many other
people might have replied a few hours later if Paul hadn't done so already),
then they may well step in where they hadn't done so before.

I also sincerely believe that if the lists were allowed to become a generally
friendlier and more encouraging place to discuss Rockbox, the way it's used,
and the ideas people have for ways in which it could be improved, then a
number of people who haven't previously been known for their contribution to
answering questions might start to come forward and help out.

I've seen it before on other lists - people who were hardly known about, start
to feel enabled to take a bigger part in helping others, and if they're given
the encouragement to do so, everybody benefits.

> It's a huge loss to our community, and sadly a lot of people are only going
> to realise that now that Paul has decided to go quiet.

I think Paul's made a good choice based on a difficult situation, and (I
think) I understand entirely his reasons for doing so. He clearly has a
different email style from many people, and from time to time this becomes
spectacularly apparent when someone takes offence at what he's written or the
way he's written it, and a reasonable discussion turns into a heated
argument, to no-one's benefit (by which I mean it causes more damage than is
apparent simply from the few people taking part in the "discussion").

The fact that this happens with several correspondents suggests that it's
something consistent about Paul's style which provokes the emotionality,
however from what I've seen the emotion nearly always springs from the other
side, not from Paul, and therefore I genuinely don't believe he's trying to
provoke this response, and (as he says) is entirely mystified by it whenever
it happens. The fact that it happens fairly often, however, means that it's
something worth recognising and dealing with, as Paul has chosen to do.

It's woefully unfortunate, and almost certainly wouldn't be happening if we
weren't using email as the communications channel (being well recognised for
losing so much emotion and nuance of expression), but it's important to
recognise when these misintepretations / discontinuities do occur, and I both
applaud Paul for taking this decision, and very much hope that he manages to
find a way to see things from the other people's points of view, so that he
can understand why his postings sometimes get responded to as they do, and
thereby return to the lists, able to contribute once more and help everyone
to keep Rockbox rocking.

It's all about community, it's all about the software, and I hope everyone
here wants the Rockbox mailing lists to be a friendly and encouraging place
to exchange information about using Rockbox, whether that means a newbie
who's uncertain about installing it, or a potential developer who can help
get it working on a new DSP.

Regards,

Antony.

-- 
"It would appear we have reached the limits of what it is possible to achieve 
with computer technology, although one should be careful with such 
statements; they tend to sound pretty silly in five years."
 - John von Neumann (1949)
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Received on 2009-06-21

Page was last modified "Jan 10 2012" The Rockbox Crew
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