Amazed and Despaired

Story: MannersTotal Replies: 1
Author Content

Jul 26, 2005
1:19 PM EDT
I am amazed and despaired by the response to this article. It seems that ill-manners are so much an 'accepted' part of the Free Software Movement's interactions these days that even 'writing an article' on the importance of good manners and of respecting other people's choices and opinions brings objections and argument.

As I see it, good manners and civility are never out of place in any attempt at human discourse, and should be welcomed by all in the open source community. I believe the author has hit the truth right on the head when he characterizes a lack of civility and even rudeness directed at another whose choice of OS (for whatever reason he made it) differs from yours as, "... senseless name calling and personal insults ...." Such is indeed not advocacy!

While I agree that "... GNU/Linux is a tool produced with the goal of giving people freedom ...", as Libervis suggests, that is a philosophical and perhaps even political reason for choosing one tool over another - but it does not thereby make the os itself not a tool.

The article's author tells us, "... an OS is merely that... A tool, nothing more," and I have to say I agree with that. We must separate in our thinking and discussion the 'tool' from the 'reasons for using it or not using it.' The tool is the tool regardless of the reasons. Some tools are better than others, and the reasons they are provide the basis for deciding on which tool I will choose.

But lambasting another because they have chosen a different tool from the one you or I believe is better is not good manners, not civility, and not advocacy. It is abuse - pure and simple. True advocacy occurs when an open and respectful discussion takes place in which the 'reasons' behind one's choice of tools is discussed. Then and only then can one who may have made a 'poorer' choice than you or I did can make a better one with honor and dignity. Learning takes place and people grow.

But in the end - even if the other party to the discussion decides to stick with their choice over what we might consider a better one, good manners and civility should rule the day. Calling them a name, or speaking ill of them or their choice will do nothing but bring a bad smell to the people doing so and the community they represent.

I applaud the author's courage in bringing this discussion forward. One does not have to spend very much time on open source irc channels or forums to discover the degree to which bad manners and a lack of civility have gained a firm hold in our communities. We can change that though - starting with ourselves!

Good show jimf ... and remember what a very wise man once said: "A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions." - Soloman

Let the objections roll off your back - this was well stated and needed to be said. Ya done good, fella!


Jul 26, 2005
2:23 PM EDT
In the end, I think it all comes back to good advocacy vs bad advocacy. And good diplomacy. And, OK, good politics. Insulting people does not help the cause. (And there are plenty of people in our community who do it anyway.)

There are very good reasons to use Windows (or MacOSX). There are a lot of things that Linux does not support, does not support as well, or are just too damned much trouble to get to work and then don't work as well as in Windows (or MacOSX), or would be absolutely impossible for the average person to implement by themselves. And if you don't have a Linux expert at hand to help you out, well... let's just hope your needs are very simple, and you don't really care about the streaming wmv's at, or need the email at yahoo to work for you. (And if that is CNN's and Yahoo's fault and not ours it doesn't make a bit of difference bacause that's the way the world currently is, whether we like it or not.)

People have very good reasons for using the OS that they use.

I think that, ironically, sites like and are part of the problem. For all the real benefits they provide in collecting the Linux news for us, they facilitate us devotees to sit around, drinking the Kool-Aid, preaching to the choir, and getting preached back to by the choir, as we see a different world which is more agreeable to us, while the rest of the world continues to see the same old world, without the Tuxified, rose colored glasses. Our sites can be a bit insular.

I don't know about you guys, but when I go out and try to replace Windows with Linux (mainly on the desktop, but on the server, as well) I have problems. And many of those problems stem from the fact that it is a Windows world out there. The customer has trouble with web apps that expect IE, documents that don't open quite right in OOo, applications for submitting warranty claims that only run under Windows, and don't run under Wine.

I've been a Unix cheerleader since 1988, and a Linux cheerleader since 1996. And even so, the move to a Linux desktop for myself was not a trivial process. And there are still things that I can't do because I run Linux.

And that's OK. I'm willing to say that if that web site, or that app, can't be bothered to support anything but Windows, then I can't be bothered to support them.

But I'm not going to tell others that they have to feel the same. That would be arrogant. But more importantly, it would be counterproductive. And it would be bad advocacy. People know when they have been insulted. And are perfectly free to decide that they can't be bothered with me... or Linux.

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