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

Larry Hall (RFK Partners, Inc)
Mon Jun 25 12:12:00 GMT 2001

At 02:19 PM 6/25/2001, Ken Collins wrote:
> > 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.  
>Perception is at the heart of rudeness, and being curt is one of the prime
>tools of rudeness. 

Ah, so you're saying that because a rude person is often curt that a 
curt person is being rude?  If you find this is the case, perhaps you're
too thin skinned for any email list.  I don't see why one liners have
to be considered rude.

>Someone was asking about examples, so here's one. A few days ago, the
>Debian guy wrote about "porting" Debian to Cygwin and gets a one-liner back
>suggesting he knows nothing about either Debian or Cygwin. He's got a
>Debian email address, and even to someone like myself, who has never used
>Debian, it's obvious that's he's just been imprecise in his phrasing. What
>Debian really brings to the table is its packaging system, and he's
>probably talking about that. 
>The correct curt response would be something like "Which part of Debian are
>you interested in porting?" Here's a guy who's obviously involved with
>Debian to some degree, and he's going to go away with a bad but probably
>fairly accurate impression of how much help he or the rest of the Debian
>team is going to get in working with Cygwin. Other follow-up responses were
>good, but the first one to hit the list will stick with him.

OK, and what percentage of the email sent to this list with queries gets
this kind of response (note that the response you refer to was not 
imparting any information, curt, rude, or otherwise)?  I'm not sure that
we will ever be able to control all the response to this list (unless 
we adopt a moderated forum, in which case we need a volunteer for that).
My opinion is that there are very few responses to posters that would be
generally considered to be without some helpful intent.  Do you feel
otherwise?  If so, how bad do you think it is?  1% of the responses are
like this?  5%? 10%? 25%? 50%?  More? 

> > 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! ;-)  
>I wouldn't mind answering some of the easy questions, but I always feel
>like I shouldn't bother since someone will post RTFM in short order. As for
>the volume of questions, it should be taken in part as a indicator that the
>project needs more institutional memory. For example, if there was a list
>of known bugs linked from the Cygwin home page, it might cut back on repeat

You shouldn't feel bashful about chiming in with your responses if you 
feel they are valid and helpful.  That's what this list is about.  In 
terms of list bugs on a web page somewhere, perhaps this is a worthwhile
idea but my guess is that it won't get much use.  Most bugs have some 
representation in the email archives and there's a good number of folks
that don't look there for them.  My guess is this bug list would just 
become another resource that people don't know about and don't use 
effectively.  There have been discussions in the past about setting up a 
bug reporting/tracking system but the general consensus is that the users 
on this list would not use it very effectively.  Maybe we're wrong! ;-)  
Perhaps you would be interested in starting up such a bug list to see if 
it would help?

>It might also bring bugs forward more quickly. I noticed the problem with
>cron several days before it was brought up, but I didn't want to post
>anything for fear of getting a curt rejoinder. If I could see instantly
>that it was not yet reported, and that I'm not missing anything in the
>mailing list archives I might come forward in the future.

Sounds to me like you're a little to concerned about getting your feet
wet here.  Really, the water ain't that cold! ;-)  While the list prefers
bug reports with patches, any report with good information and possibly
someone behind it willing to do a little debugging is very much 
appreciated.  Of course, if you are uncomfortable with the notion, you
always have the option to continue to lurk.

>It takes a modest amount of effort to find the mailing list address and
>subscribe. If people are willing to go to that effort before looking at
>other sources first, there might be some problems in the docs or the way
>they're presented. Or perhaps the mailing subscription info should be moved
>into the FAQ and off the front page :)

Actually, it's already on both (sorry for the one-liner :( )

Larry Hall                    
RFK Partners, Inc.            
118 Washington Street                   (508) 893-9779 - RFK Office
Holliston, MA 01746                     (508) 893-9889 - FAX

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