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KWin Maintainer: Fanboys and Trolls Are the Cancer Killing Free Software 406

Posted by Soulskill
from the also:-language-arguments,-phone-debates,-console-wars dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Martin Gräßlin, maintainer of the KWin window manager, writes an informative blog post about his experiences with the less favorable pockets of the Free Software community. Quoting: 'Years ago I had a clear political opinion. I was a civil-rights activist. I appreciated freedom and anything limiting freedom was a problem to me. Freedom of speech was one of the most important rights for me. I thought that democracy has to be able to survive radical or insulting opinions. In a democracy any opinion should have a right even if it's against democracy. I had been a member of the lawsuit against data preservation in Germany. I supported the German Pirate Party during the last election campaign because of a new censorship law. That I became a KDE developer is clearly linked to the fact that it is a free software community. But over the last years my opinion changed. Nowadays I think that not every opinion needs to be tolerated. I find it completely acceptable to censor certain comments and encourage others to censor, too. What was able to change my opinion in such a radical way? After all I still consider civil rights as extremely important. The answer is simple: Fanboys and trolls.'"
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KWin Maintainer: Fanboys and Trolls Are the Cancer Killing Free Software

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  • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Brett Buck (811747) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @06:13PM (#44044051)

    What the heck does this have to do with civil rights? Is some governmental agency preventing him from voting or serving on a jury?

  • by stenvar (2789879) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @06:14PM (#44044061)

    I don't know either Gräßlin or KWin. But I get the impression from his blog post that he is unable to separate his personal and political opinions from his role as software maintainer. Perhaps that's the reason he experiences problems and has abuse targeted at him? Or maybe it's just his personality.

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      I don't know about any of that but I don't see a problem with censoring crap on your own site. If people are rude or crass or even just annoying you have every right to not put up with them. Everyone has a right to his opinion and the right to voice it. Everyone also has the right to ignore the opinions of people he finds objectionable. Just because you have the right of free speech doesn't mean I have to listen to you.

    • by Tom (822)

      Or maybe some people enjoy living as a whole human being instead of slicing their life into pieces? He makes it quite clear that his role as a software maintainer and his personal and political opinions are linked and he wouldn't have become the former if it hadn't been for the later.

  • by csumpi (2258986) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @06:14PM (#44044065)
    Democratic elections are also decided by "fanboys and trolls". Campaigning is the art of getting most of them on your side.
  • by optikos (1187213) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @06:14PM (#44044067)
    Open source is Ayn Rand's 1949 movie & 1943 novel The Fountainhead: be your own independent architect, do what you love to do, put it out there, see if anyone else loves it too, find your birds of a feather, flock together, and f— everyone else, especially your competitors on similar projects.
  • Seriously. Who cares about this guy's rant?!?!? Yes, this is the tired meme of the internet giving voice to annoying people.

    Deal with it or avoid the internet.
  • The idea of free speech is that the state can't outright ban certain kinds of speech. It does not mean that every bit of speech must be included in every possible discussion forum. In some, you might want to be as open as possible in order to allow the widest range of unmoderated discussion. That was the goal of many of the early discussion fora like the WELL. But in others, you might want to restrict discussion more narrowly. This could be based on topic: on some Usenet groups, mailing lists, and webforums, there are ranges of topics considered on-topic, and others considered off-topic. How narrow the on-topic range is varies, and how strictly it's enforced varies (do you politely ask off-topic discussions to knock it off, do you axe them outright, etc?). It also could be based on behavior standards: do you ban people for personal attacks, for aggressive behavior, for doxxing, or any range of other activities? It depends on the community and their goals.

    But the point is that these are all tradeoffs that vary by community, and don't have much to do with civil rights. It is your right to publish a shitty book of poems, but that doesn't mean you have the same right to email every poem you write to the Linux Kernel Mailing List. This is a pretty basic distinction, no?

  • "No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?"
    -- George Orwell, "Animal Farm"
  • by RLBrown (889443) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @06:20PM (#44044125) Homepage
    In the quoted blog, Martin Graesslin is basically asking if censoring zero-content hate speech from fanboys and trolls is a compromise on supporting full freedom of speech. It is not. In the USA, we make this differentiation. You are free to express any opinion, but may not do so with "hateful" language. "Fighting words" are forbidden in public forums. In addition, advocating illegal action is not the same as expressing an opinion. Saying something like "The bums in Congress should be removed from office, one and all" is okay, whereas "grab your gun, we march tonight" is not.
    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      Totally irrelevant.

      We're on the internet, on various (privately owned) forums and blogs. The question seems to be more specifically about Martin's own blog. On his blog, he has the absolute right to delete any comments he doesn't argee with. That's not "censorship"; it's only censorship when the government does it. Free speech means you're (supposed to be) free from any government interference in expressing yourself. It doesn't mean that I'm obligated to provide you a forum to air your opinions. If yo

    • by lgw (121541) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @07:52PM (#44044859) Journal

      You are free to express any opinion, but may not do so with "hateful" language. "Fighting words" are forbidden in public forums. In addition, advocating illegal action is not the same as expressing an opinion. Saying something like "The bums in Congress should be removed from office, one and all" is okay, whereas "grab your gun, we march tonight" is not.

      That's almost entirely wrong. Hateful speech is perfectly legal, as it should be. "Fighting words" only apply where immediate physical violence is a reasonable result to expect, which is hard to see happening over a web forum (but I guess it's possible). Advocating illegal action is illegal if it becomes conspiracy, but there's not prior restraint there - it's the overt action that makes it illegal, not the speech by itself (IANAL, etc).

  • Yes but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by countach (534280) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @06:22PM (#44044139)

    Censoring other people in your own domain IS A FORM OF SPEECH!

    The Neo Nazis can go spout their nonsense, but it doesn't mean I have to let them do it in my own home. Neither does Martin censoring his own blog mean that he is against free speech. He is exercising his own free speech in his own domain by censoring trolls.

    There are any number of reasons to censor people in your own domain that doesn't indicate that you think their ideas are dangerous in themselves. You simply are telling them to take their ideas somewhere else, which we all have a right to do.

    • by rahvin112 (446269) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @08:58PM (#44045269)

      I agree and the thing that struck me about the quote that he believed free speech meant tolerating other speech. Free speech means prohibiting government from retaliating. It absolutely has nothing to do with people "tolerating" speech of others. As you said the Nazi's can (in my words) go fuck themselves. I'm not going to listen to them and I'm NOT going to tolerate their speech. That doesn't mean I support government censorship or physical violence but I'm NOT going to give their comments equal weight, I'm NOT going to allow them to speak hatred from my property and I'm not going to listen to them spouting hatred in public.

      Free speech doesn't mean tolerating speech you find offensive. It is strictly about government trying to restrict speech. I'm entirely confused by this idea that's arisen in the last decade or two (primarily with Millennials in my experience) that free speech means tolerating speech. It doesn't. Being forced to "tolerate" speech you find offensive is IMO abusive and completely against the intent of free speech.

  • by decora (1710862) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @06:25PM (#44044169) Journal

    and either you will burnout or none of this shit will bother you anymore because you will have seen everything.

    you think trolling is bad? flameboys? how about someone dumping their whole tray of food in front of you and screaimng at you as they walk out over a $2.20 item.

    how about people calling you up and cursing you out because they got the wrong phone number?

    how about a convicted rapist coming into your store and flashing people?

    how about getting robbed at gunpoint at 3 in the morning for $7.00/hour?

    how about your former manager getting pulled into a freezer and shot to death, 2 weeks after you quit a fast food joint?

    first world problems baby. first world problems.

    • how about your former manager getting pulled into a freezer and shot to death, 2 weeks after you quit a fast food joint?

      Are you sure confessing on a public forum is wise? ;)

  • Free software, as good as it often is, does not do well in a consumerist society. We believe that anything good costs money and inversely, if it costs money it must be good and the more money it costs, the better it must be. What's more the implied belief is that if it's free, it can't be good.

    But depite all that, it's not just people that are increasingly using it, it's that business is increasingly using it. I don't mind, terribly, that commercial software business actually uses free software to make t

  • A german saying:
    "Wer will bauen an der Straßen, muß die Leute reden lassen."
    Who builds on the street, must let people talk.

  • TLDR: Was hippy, got better.
  • Fanboys and Trolls (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Murdoch5 (1563847)
    The amount of people who don't actually know what a troll is, is mind blowing. Having a completely different opinion does not make you a troll. A troll has to without any attempt at valid point formation for his / her side, argue with the attempt to instil negative feelings or total false hood on the given topic. I hate trolls but I also hate people who don't know how to recognize a troll, having been modded down on this side many times for making good and logical arguments, I'm actually worried that peo
  • Is an article on Slashdot complaining about fanboys and trolls ironic or just plain futile?
  • The guy is a free software developer and his ego is getting in the way. Essentially its "prima donna" syndrome where the reviews are only important when they bath the individual in glory. Yeah none of those reviewers know anything.... but you still read them ;-)
    The short story is that ICT in general has more people with ego problems than most segments of industry. Poor social misfit is valued by the company/organisation ego blooms, man-boy finds himself isolated and lashes out, discovers others are stronger

  • Nowadays I think that not every opinion needs to be tolerated. I find it completely acceptable to censor certain comments and encourage others to censor, too.

    And from the article:
    We need to find solutions to the fanboys and one of the solutions I came up with is to block them on my blog posts.

    Moderated forums are not identical to censorship. Censorship is the attempt to prevent an opinion from being expressed. Moderation can have the objective only to prevent disruption of a particular forum, and not be an

  • Sounds like he's having trouble differentiating between government censorship and non government moderation.

    Free speech has nothing at all to do with moderating a privately owned forum in such a way that the conversations are productive.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sounds like you're an idiot who thinks that censorship solely involves the government. It doesn't. Private entities can censor things.

      • by EWAdams (953502)

        Sounds like you're an idiot who thinks that censorship solely involves the government. It doesn't. Private entities can censor things.

        Yes it does. YOU don't know what censorship means. Private entities are perfectly entitled to control the speech in spaces they own any way they like. If you come to a party at my house and start spouting offensive opinions, I'll throw you out. That's not censorship, that's being hospitable to my other guests.

        Censorship is the use of government power and ONLY government power. All else is up for grabs.

  • The problem is that the term troll is now thrown around by oversensitive moderators/operators to silence people who offer alternative opinions, whether they be well reasoned or not. This is not trolling, period. Trolling is a deliberate attempt to derail the conversation. However, a troll only has as much power as you let him have. Moderator or user, both can deny the troll his power by sticking to rational arguments, correct facts, and the truth. See a post that pisses you off? Don't censor him, respo

  • He thinks he has it bad? Hey, at least he's not on the Gnome dev team. Instead of crying to us, he'd be sobbing in his mother's arms!

    HEADLINE: Paradise Lost!
    [Germany]
    Today, a naive idealist crashed headlong into reality, and his youthful dreams of utopia were shattered. No more Unicorns and skipping down candy-colored, lollipop lanes for this disillusioned, sensitive soul! Turn to page 6 and read all about the injustices this poor individual has suffered because of some mean old trolls on the Internet
  • by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @07:21PM (#44044641) Journal

    What has changed is that now you're one of the builders, rather than one of the activists.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @07:21PM (#44044645)

    So let me get this strait... while he's a citizen, submitting to power, freedom of speech is the most important right we have. Then, once he gains a leadership role of a community that has freedom to say whatever it is they want, suddenly that right isn't so appealing? Excuse me while I fall out of my chair laughing at his dumb ass.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @07:42PM (#44044795) Homepage

    If you have some system like Slashdot's which moves junk comments to lower rating positions, this isn't a problem. Everybody should get to blither, but nobody should have to read or listen to their blithering.

  • by dgharmon (2564621) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 @12:20AM (#44046291) Homepage
    They are neither Fanboys or Trolls but professional disrupters hired by or benefiting from a relationship with the major propritary software vendors. They regularly change position and identities so as to shut down legitimate discourse.

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