[mythtv-users] "get the sources and fix it yourself"

Scott Sharkey ssharkey at linuxunlimited.com
Fri Sep 28 15:08:51 UTC 2007


Joe Borne wrote:
> This is a subject rather near and dear to me so I'm going to butt in and 
> comment.
> I'm a primarily self taught Linux user, coming from a Mac and Unix, not 
> Windows, background. Over the years I have encountered the attitude Eric 
> and Rick expound in their article. It is frustrating at best, and 
> infuriating at worst. There is a hypocrisy and dichotomy in the Linux 
> community about this subject that approaches the absurd.
> Years ago I encountered this in the IRC linux help channel. I was 
> engaged in a conversation about a particular set of tools when I voiced 
> the opinion that tools for managing Linux systems needed to be given 
> interfaces for the average user. I was shocked when I was immediately 
> kicked and banned from the channel for this. The channel owner then sent 
> me a scorchingly hot private message informing me that what I was 
> endorsing was the opposite of the spirit of Linux and would not be 
> tolerated. He ended his message with a note about how Linux was going to 
> take over and kill Microsoft.
> I found this a laughable dichotomy.
> Here this individual was waging war on an enemy, and was with zealous 
> fervor believing he would inevitably win. However he had his head in the 
> sand about using tools that would assist in drawing believers to his cause.
> In the entire course of history I cannot think of a case where someone 
> has built a following by telling everyone new to it that they are stupid.
> This "technorati/Intelligencia" attitude seems to have permeated the 
> Linux community, and in my opinion it must be purged if we want Linux to 
> cross over into the average user community. You cannot attract people to 
> your cause if you castigate anyone who asks a question you feel is 
> beneath being answered, or asks a question improperly. In the time it 
> takes to type "RTFM you stupid noob!" or "Google is your friend", you 
> could just as easily type "try 'man <subject>', I think it's in there". 
> By doing so you help them get their answer, teach them a valuable tool 
> for finding answers, and give them a positive impression of the Linux 
> community.
> If people are rude in demanding bug fixes, changes or features, I have 
> found it's best to politely remind them that free software isn't really 
> free, it's just paid for by the people who develop it. "They pay with 
> their time, effort and skills so you don't have to pay with your income. 
> So you have to be respectful of them so they will continue to develop 
> for you. I realize this is frustrating, but on average open source 
> software addresses bugs and upgrades faster than commercial solutions do".
> In essence, if you do a good job for someone they will tell one or two 
> people. But if you do a bad job, or you are rude, they will tell 
> EVERYONE, and they certainly won't come back.
> In my opinion, the haughty attitude of many long term Linux users has 
> been the #1 impediment to the spread of Linux. In fact, I think Linux 
> succeeds _in spite of_ the Linux user support community, not because of it.
> Let's change that. Ubuntu and their user forums proves it can be done.

I agree that we should not start out rude, and too many times we do see 
that on the lists.  In my opinion, it's never OK to be rude, no matter 
what the provocation.  However, Just as often I have done exactly as you 
suggested, and pointed them at the FINE manual, or web page, or 
where-ever, and gotten back "But I just need you to tell me the answer, 
I don't have time to read all that"... or some variation.  I usually 
ignore that person after a couple attempts to be polite.  My mother told 
me not to say anything if I can't say anything nice...

My point was that we, as we bring newbies into our community, should be 
setting their expectations properly.  It should probably be part of the 
"welcome message" they are sent when they sign up for the list.  And 
anyone who introduces a new member to our community ought to be telling 
them a variation of ESR's advice, and we ought to make that a priority.

How many times do they post a question here which was just answered not 
hours before by someone else, asking the same question... Just look at 
the number of times someone came in and posted "We're loosing our free 
Listings feed... what are we gonna do?" questions, when even a brief 
review of the current list archives would have told them that there were 
already N+100 answers to that question on the list...

It's a two way street, and as the "experienced users" we should be 
patient, and tolerant.  But we should also be educating them on proper 
behaviour in a open source community.

And as for user interfaces, and making things accessible to newbies... I 
100% agree.  Too often open source has a huge disadvantage because we 
design interfaces to accommodate every single crazy option possible, 
which makes our interfaces overwhelming and confusing.  We really need 
to start designing a "simple" interface that does most of what a newbie 
needs, and an "advanced" interface for the experienced guys.  No 
argument there.


More information about the mythtv-users mailing list