Blunt Tools (was: cgf does not want private email about cygwin)

Larry Hall (RFK Partners, Inc)
Mon Jun 25 10:00:00 GMT 2001

At the risk of sounding like a "me too" to Chuck's epistle, I'd like to 
add my $.02 here as well (on a more serious note).  I too would say that
there has been more curtness on this list but as Chuck points out, that's
not rudeness.  It may be perceived that way but that doesn't make it so.  
The goal of this list has always been to enable the Cygwin community.  
Its done this over the years by responding to questions on this list. 
Perhaps this has been done too well since the volume and the scope of the 
questions has expanded considerably.  I think the curtness that others may 
perceive comes from the attempt of some here to keep up with the volume 
and also attempt to direct those with OT queries.  Short answers and directions to those with inappropriate topics may be perceived by the 
original poster and others as "attitude" (as its been called here
before) but its really just an attempt to provide folks the answers 
they're looking for.  If we all had infinite time, we could all come up
with the precisely appropriate phrasing for every response that would 
ensure everybody got the answer they need with all the detail and charm
required.  That wouldn't be curt.  Unfortunately, it turns out not to be 

The goal of this list is certainly not to offend folks.  The goal is to 
empower the Cygwin community.  As Chris points out, certainly the list is 
managing that to some degree, given the volume and scope of the inquiries.
As in any community, the actions (or inactions) of some are going to 
offend or rub some others wrong regardless of intent.  Hopefully, those
situations are short-lived.  One only needs to look at the wealth of 
effort that has gone into the email archives, even if one were to ignore
(sacrilege!) the enormous contribution of Cygwin itself, to confirm that
folks here have the community in mind.  Personally, I'd love to see that
focus continue!  If we can get more people to try to answer some of the 
"easy" questions themselves, we'll save some bandwidth, some time, and
perhaps some frayed nerves! ;-)  The result would be a better list for
everyone if you ask me.  There may continue to be curt messages on this
list, but curt or not, the content generally quite useful if one follows
up on it.  I think its important to not overlook this fact.


PS - Some amount of modesty compels me to point out that my statements
      above are not meant as a self-congratulatory dissertation in any way. 
      I'm writing this as an "outsider" that admires what the Cygwin 
      community has and continues to accomplish.

At 11:52 AM 6/25/2001, Charles S. Wilson wrote:
>Ken Collins wrote:
>>Is it just me, or is the tone of this list getting increasingly curt and
>No, it's not just you -- I think the tone is changing a bit, but it's not "rudeness" -- it's brevity (curtness) -- but it's done in self-preservation. (This particular missive is an exception, however) The "old-timers" are tired of newbies refusing to search the archives, not digging into the source, and just generally refusing to even TRY to answer their own questions before running to the list. Oh yeah, and the barrage of personally-directed email.  In my case, I would describe it as perilously close to total burnout -- e.g. I'm quite close to dropping off the list completely and abandoning all things cygwin, including the 20 packages that I maintain.  Most of the old-timers are probably in the same boat.
><crotchety old voice> Back when I first started using cygwin, I *LURKED* on the mailing list for six months before my first post, because I wanted to understand what I could about cygwin before bothering the experts: Mumit, Chris, DJ, Geoff, Earnie, et al with my uninformed questions.</crotchety old voice>  In the interim, Mumit took a compete year off -- totally dropped cygwin and was completely incommunicado.  He eventually returned (hallelujah).  Geoff is gone.  DJ is (almost entirely) gone.  Fortunately, others have since stepped up to the plate: Corinna, Larry, me, Robert, others.
>There are basically only two ways to modify the behavior of a group: codified rules or social mores.  It's very difficult to enforce codified rules on an open mailing list, so the only way to modify the behavior of a group -- in this case, newbies -- is to project disapproval of the undesired behavior.  So far, those expressions of disapproval have been fairly mild.  Earnie's one-liner "google" responses are classic.  They say, "here's the answer to your question, but don't you feel silly now in wasting my time and bandwidth when you could've done this simple search?"  (And better, it doesn't take him much time to compose those responses) Larry has a great way of gently pointing a newbie in the right direction (giving a hint as to where the desired information could be found -- e.g. "grep the sources for "IPv6")  but not doing ALL of the newbies' work for them.
>Personally, I'm in favor of shunning: if somebody continually wastes time on the list by *continually* expecting others to do basic research for them, and *continually* refusing to "use the source", and *continually* refusing to search the archives -- just publically announce that the individual has been shunned, and stop answering their questions.
>Okay, that was a little over-the-top.  But as I said, personally I'm quite close to "shunning" everybody -- by abandoning the list and cygwin myself. So sure, the list has (generally) gotten more curt -- but I wouldn't characterize that as rude.  The "curtness" is there for good reason -- it was provoked.
>Want to unsubscribe from this list?
>Check out:

Want to unsubscribe from this list?
Check out:

More information about the Cygwin mailing list