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

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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  • Re:Wow, just wow. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @06:21PM (#44044131)

    Agreed, it was obviously the first time this kid (he acts like a kid) got his feelings hurt by the very
    free speech he has been championing all along.

    Welcome to the internet kid, grow a skin or log off.

    KDE 4 deserved all the badmouthing it got in the early days. Its fine now, stable and works great very well.
    But back then it needed a bashing, and it generally got it. And the arrogant spew that was returned
    in the face of any criticism pretty much set the tone for the long fight that followed.

    Disclaimer: I like KDE, I've used every version, I still use it today.
    I was very vocal against the near death of KDE caused by the developer's arrogance.

  • 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.

  • Re:Wow, just wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @06:26PM (#44044181)

    There wasn't one rational reason stated why censorship is a good thing

    Really? How about the idea that having a bunch of lame-ass mooches, trolls, and flamers causing nothing but drama increases the stress level of developers and causes them to abandon projects entirely?

    That's a net loss for EVERYONE. The projects don't complete or get kicked way back on deadline waiting for someone else to pick them up, learn the code, learn to extend it, and finish it off. If they ever do, since those same lame-ass trolls and flamers are waiting to pounce again.

    This guy needs to grow up and grow a pair.

    OR, the lame-ass trolls need to grow up.

    Look, I get it. You're 14, you live in your parents' basement, and to you swearing is only nominally less exciting than a furtive glimpse at a pair of tits. You think it makes you sound grown up. Used in moderation, it can. But there's a right way and a wrong way to phrase things, a right way and a wrong way to handle conflict, and a right and wrong way to deal with drama.

    The problem with trolls, fanboys and flamers in this context is that they increase rather than decrease the drama levels and stress levels. Rather than putting out fires and being a little diplomatic, they throw gasoline on fires and expect the house to still be standing after the inferno.

    Bad move. It destroys projects and drives people away from open source. Hell, the reason I never made the jump to using Linux on the desktop was my own experiences trying to set up a Mythbox in my living room; because I didn't have the exact hardware that one of the developers had, asked for some help, got shouted at "RTFM you fucking loser" over and over again when the documentation was crap and had no relevance to the situation I was asking about... screw it. I'm not going to try to navigate the 300:1 odds of finding someone helpful among that lame-ass crowd in order to try to use F/OSS and I can understand why it drives developers away too!

  • Fanboys and Trolls (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Murdoch5 ( 1563847 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @06:35PM (#44044269)
    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 people have lost the ability to distinguish a troll from someone who has a valid differing opinion.

    As for Fanboys, well if you can make me a good set of points on why your product is better and if you can properly discuss them all with me and make me see that your not just a Fanboy without reason then your okay! The Fanboys I can't stand are the ones who talk about product X like it's the coming of Jesus but then can't talk about why they don't actually like Y, Z and T without saying they just suck.

    The best part is, this works with everything! I don't care if your a software developer, home baker, car mechanic or just a noodle enthusiast, you need to be able to form proper reasons behind the things you do and why you do them. I'm not a musical fan but if you can sit down and explain all the reasons you like musicals then I'm not going to argue, we might differ entirely in opinion but at least you have good reasons and I can respect that.
  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @07:01PM (#44044461)

    Getting onto a tangent, but I think the Rush quote is sort of expressing the opposite sentiment, that you can't wash your hands of making a choice you don't want to make by failing to decide, because that's still in effect making a choice in the matter.

  • Re:Wow, just wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @07:14PM (#44044577)

    Put another way: To someone who thinks "GNOME rocks => KDE sucks", nothing you can do to KDE will change their mind--it's still not GNOME, therefore it still sucks, and they'll create another justification as to why that is, forever and ever.

    Actually it can be read exactly the opposite:

    The fanboy, (often the developer, or the developer's hangers on) won't hear any criticism, because such people are trolls, and instead make up any excuse and call anyone names who dares complain about any change, or point out the the emperors new clothes lack certain key features. There then ensues a great shout down from the developers inflicted on their own user-base. The perfect storm of bad user relations.

    Instead of saying,

    ok, yeah we can see how that might be counter productive for your use case, so lets put in a switch that you can continue to use the rest of the new package but fall back to the old method till we get this new stuff up to your liking

    the developer community ends up saying

    hey, its free software, download it and fix it any way you want, otherwise STFU or go run Gnome or Windows

    Even when they happen to take the latter approach with a coder capable of digging through the mountain of code and making the change, they will not accept and merge the outside coder's changes, and they will apply patches to their branch that render the coder's changes impossible in the future.

    Case in point: The Dolphin file manager in KDE4 couldn't begin to match all of the powerful feature of Konqueror of KDE3.5. Early KDE4 adopters were opting to still use Konqueror file manager (as well as bitching vocally). So the developers, instead of spending their time bringing Dolphin up to Kong's capabilities, went in and gutted Kong, and piped it over Dolphin wearing Kong's clothing. Rather than admit Dolphin wasn't ready for prime time, they maliciously removed any ability to make a comparison, any bridge that would keep the users happy. Sabotage! Utterly childish, utterly unnecessary.

  • Re:Wow, just wow. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 18, 2013 @08:59PM (#44045281)

    But it isn't your blog. Your blog is hosted on an ISP. That ISP is again connected to your readers through a number of networks.

    All of these middle-men could similarly exercise their right to censorship, because they are not part of the government.

    What you are missing is this: When you censor your blog, you are not a _platform for free speech_. It is not your responsibility to be one, but as a society, for free speech to have any meaning, there must be platforms for free speech.

    The press has traditionally been such a platform. Today ISPs and network operators must be platforms for free speech.

    If you let any non-government organization censor, then free speech is no better off in the US than in China or Russia. Most censorship is done by private companies, not by the government. Self-censorship is censorship, and by implicitly letting the platforms for free speech in society dwindle, free speech is lost.

The absent ones are always at fault.