Linus Torvalds and the new code of conflict
Linus Torvalds has taken a lot of criticism for his...er...blunt responses to Linux developers over the years. But now the Linux Foundation has set up a "code of conflict" that might change the way Linus interacts with developers.
[ Also on ITworld: 11 technologies that tick off Linus Torvalds ]
Julie Bort reports for Business Insider:
On Monday, the Linux Foundation kinda sorta slapped him on the wrist when they issued a new "Code of Conflict" policy that declared "personal insults or abuse are not welcome."
It says that if "anyone feels personally abused, threatened, or otherwise uncomfortable" while working on Linux, they should report the situation to the Technical Advisory Board who will step in and mediate.
Torvalds was not the one to write this policy. His right-hand man, Greg Kroah-Hartman, wrote it and cutely submitted it as a "patch" to the Linux system. That meant that the ultimate keeper of Linux, Torvalds, had to see the "patch" and approve it, which he did, adding the public comment, "Let's see how this works."
Readers of the Business Insider article pulled no punches in sharing their thoughts about the Linux Foundation's code of conflict :
JochenLiebig: "I agree with Linus. What's all this US-drive PC...? What a stupid culture, where major newspaper...their pants over Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Where 'friendliness' is king, but people still die in poverty. Clear language rules, and efficient programming needs clear language. Let Linus do his thing! "
Nerdbert: "Funny, but hardware geeks are like this all the time. Sure, in some environments they're PC, but in the ones that are more focused on getting out products there tend to be some very strong opinions. And you know, you actually grow a thick skin after you've had to vigorously defend your design decision from sharp attacks. And in general, you learn faster to actually think through possible objections and weak points in your argument BEFORE you waste too many other people's time.
I think that's what Linus is trying to do here: make sure folks have thought things through thoroughly before they propose a solution. He doesn't go off on a short fuse, generally, but if you keep wasting his time without challenging his rejection of your argument and showing why it's wrong, yeah, he'll lose patience and let you know it. But he'll also admit when he's made a mistake or the wrong decision if you give him a good reason.
Really folks, this isn't minor league stuff. If you cry, pout, and want to take your ball and go home when someone throws a high and tight fastball you shouldn't be playing in the majors."
Jerry Seinfeld: "I like how Jerry Seinfeld put it. If you resort to using profanity then you failed to nail the joke. It's like that in every undertaking. If you resort using profanity then you're retarded in some aspect. "
Junk Science: "You'll notice that Linus never has truly and directly endorsed any politeness requirements.
The linux kernel is the big leagues. you don't contribute on the kernel list unless you know your stuff, there is simply too much traffic and too many patches being submitted to bother dealing with idiots or emotional basket cases. there are plenty of projects which emphasize courtesy over other priorites...those don't run nuclear warships, linux does."
Dan Carpenter: "I was one of the people who Acked the document. It was written in private between Greg, Linus and the Linux Foundation Technical Advisory Board. By the time I was asked to sign it, then it had already been approved by everyone and I was told that I couldn't ask for changes.
Linus is not so bad as people make out. He's never cursed at me, but he's called me stupid a time or two. I'm not a new kernel developer or a child so I can handle it. Linus doesn't bother with newbies, it is never personal and he doesn't hold on to grudges.
In general kernel developers are decent people, but there are some losers. I've heard cases where people were just incredibly rude/foul/racist/sexist in private email to contributors and now we have somewhere to deal with that.
Jim Zemlin at Linux.com notes that the code of conflict could encourage what some consider to be a greater need for diversity in Linux development:
The Linux Foundation is happy to see these guidelines and is supportive of the mediation process. We will work directly with the Linux Foundation Technical Advisory Board to provide whatever support they need in implementing this process. We believe the guidelines are grounded in the unique culture and process that makes Linux so successful. Conflict over code will and should happen. But the Code is very clear that personal insults or abuse are not welcome.
It’s no secret that the software industry would like to see more diversity. The Linux Foundation believes in that. While this code does not address that directly, we feel it’s an important step to make clear that civil discourse is an important part of an open source community and to make it very plain that all are welcome. Over the last few years, The Linux Foundation has undertaken a variety of programs to address the diversity issue. From funding kernel internships to being one of the first organizations to publish a code of conduct for our events, we take the need for diversity seriously and plan on continuing and expanding these programs as well as supporting the community in their efforts.
Some Linux.com readers posted their thoughts about the code of conflict and political correctness:
SNN: "Another sign of our politically correct thin skinned times...sigh. Linus is the reason we have much of what we have...he is honest and says what needs to be said. You get your feeling hurt ? Maybe the problem is you...?"
Hspcd: "I've seen a single interview of Linus and he seemed like an arrogant kind of guy, but that was only one interview. I think people should be professional and courteous. I do not like political correctness at all though and I think it has almost ruined corporate America."
Linus: "Seriously, this anti-Linus campaign smells violently as a mean to reduce his control over the Linux project. I've seen people saying that Linus' behaviour is not how you lead a successful project... What?? Linux is the most successfull collaborative software project that ever existed!! People should study how Linus is leading it, and COPY his behaviour!"