Aaron, we love you!

Looking at what is happening here makes me sad. For a long time, Aaron put up with needless crap at levels far greater than anyone should be forced to, but he isn’t the only one. Several people have approached me lately having problems similar to Aaron’s, if not as extreme. Something needs to change, and I think it is the way we all react to the crap we as a community put up with. We look away when other members of the community are being harassed. We look away when people that do not contribute anything useful to KDE disrupt its development. And the result is that an amazing community is spoiled by a few outsiders having fun by belittling others.

I hear a lot of “Don’t feed the troll!” remarks, where what is really meant is “Let them talk and do whatever they want and just ignore them.” But this will just build upon itself to lead to still more trolling and other disruptive behaviour, even outright harassment, becoming accepted. Worst of all, it will make the victim of the harassment feel alone. And that’s the last thing the friendly KDE community should ever encourage.

Something has to change. We can’t control what people say, but we can control how we react to it.
I will not be silent when people use the mailing lists as their personal vendetta grounds.
I will not be silent when seeing a comment on the dot that is spreading hate.
I will not be silent when people harass contributors on IRC.

This is not calling for censorship, but rather for sanity. Let’s get back to being the awesome community we are, and stand up not only for ourselves, but each other.

Let us all make sure that this will not happen again!

Who is with me?

33 thoughts on “Aaron, we love you!”

  1. Yeah Lydia,

    I am with you too.

    I always liked KDE because of the great community. The friendly helpfull people. We (we all are KDE ;-)) should not let destroy that by a few trolls.

  2. Two words:

    Relax, dudes!

    More words:

    Who gives a damn what other people think? Either the stuff you do works, or it doesn’t.

    If it works, don’t pay attention to the complaining humans.

  3. Probably Aaron didn’t realise how influential he is. He enjoys writing sparky provocative posts (good) but he doesn’t have a mature system to deal with real trolls or even real challenges.

    If a troll forces a blogger off the web, she’s unsuccessful, the same way if a virus kills its host, the virus expires. Bye, trolls.

    But the challenges remain. KDE 4 is getting better, and is maturing brilliantly. I love it and I’m using it now. Thanks, Aaron.

    But one doesn’t reassure worried users by proclaiming bold statements “No more icons on the desktop” then explaining the details later, especially when the same worried users have responsibility for an installation.

    I hope Aaron continues his great blog, but turns off the comments and just cracks on with the examples and screenies.

  4. Keep in mind that not every user who is frustrated and annoyed with KDE 4 is a troll. With the recent Fedora and Suse releases, users are just now getting their first taste of 4.0 at a time when all the devs responding to their posts are using 4.1. I suspect the noise will start to subside once distros start shipping stable releases with 4.1 or later. 4.1 is almost usable but 4.0 wasn’t even close and distros should not have shipped it, IMHO. Distros bear a lot of the blame here.

    Distros are also the the ones catching the most heat.

    Random example:


  5. I’m with you!

    This is cruelty! You don’t harass people who GIVE you stuff for free!

  6. I’m with you!

    @MIXIE: if you think he isn’t capable of handling real challenges, you obviously haven’t read his blog at all have you ::) See what he’s doing, is refusing to deal with the retards causing his time with kde to be un-enjoyable. Aaron, like many others do what they do in opensource because they ENJOY it, not to placate others or hold their hands.

  7. Lydia,

    United we stand.
    Since I started contributing to KDE (2004? 2005? Can’t remember) I noticed some things:
    1. The fantastic group we are, and how we can freely create wonderful things for the benefit of so many people around the world, things that are free as in speech and as in beer;
    2. The sense of Doing The Right Thing(r) #1 brings to me, feeling able to change for the better, even if only minimally, the lives of so many people.
    3. Getting praise (karma++) and good, meaningful bug reports from users, helping us to improve upon our work.
    4. Some external, plainly rude people who appear from time to time to harrass us, trying to convince us by force, most times without any knowledge or even logic to support their arguments.

    As you see, the good part weights more than the bad one. That’s the mindset we must retain.
    I hope Aaron comes along again to Planet soon.

  8. Sorry, no I can’t agree with that.

    Trolls love to stir up debate and responses (they’re having a field day now). For a troll, there’s nothing better than if their provocative post spawns a huge thread on some blog or news story by people swarming to come to the defense of the person/project under attack. There is no educating them, because the whole thing is just a game.

    The only correct way to deal with them is to either ignore them (and they will get bored and leave eventually) or delete their posts (and they will get bored and leave eventually).

    Coming in support of a project after a troll attacks it makes for some extremely boring comment threads. Like just about every of the last posts to Aaron’s blog showed. There were a couple trollish posts (plasma sucks, Aaron sucks) then a bunch of well meaning but equally boring “plasma rocks, Aaron rocks” posts and no real discussion of anything. You might as well not have comments at all.

  9. two strategies :
    – ignore trolls
    – actively oppose them as a community.

    the risks are that this is seen as censorship or that it finally comes to that, but a “behaviourial social contract” should do the trick.

    anyway, I am with everything that allows good people like Aaron to blog their steam out without being the target of this shit we sees these last monthes.

    so : Let’s do it !

  10. This is really sad, Aaron has done such an awesome job with plasma that it isn’t funny. Yes it does work differently to kde 3.5.x but if people really really want to they could write taskbars and desktop containers the work just like 3.5.x did (not sure why you would want to though). I’m really going to miss being able to read his blog and see the interesting ideas and features he comes up with.

  11. I must say, that I wholeheartedly agree.
    I have always looked forward to reading Aaron’s posts on PlanetKDE, and I will very much miss them.
    The reason I’ve stuck by KDE my whole time on linux (aside from all the features I love ๐Ÿ˜‰ is how friendly and interesting the community is.
    So it’s a shame to see so much publicity relating the the negative sides of our community…

  12. Hello, I am not an active member of the KDE community, so my word is nothing compared to those, who have put work in KDE, but: it seems to me KDE people need to understand two aspects of ‘do not feed the troll’:

    1. use your energy for something more reasonable than fighting trolls.
    2. *prevent* trolls from speaking up.

    No 1 is fairly clear, but as to no. 2: I know for sure that it is a sign of doing something good when these people pop up, but we have to keep them out. dot.kde.org as well as all developers’ blogs should share a pool of registered users. Nobody would be allowed to comment unless he/she were registered. Anytime an offender comes along, he may be defenestrated and never again let back.

    Life is speeding up, negativism has to be stopped *now*, if the developers should have enough energy continue what they started and as they are really doing a brilliant job, I wish them developers many bright sunny days without trolling people.

    Best regards

    Zoltan Bartko

  13. So say we all!

    In response to the other comments that worry responding is feeding the trolls; it does not have to be.

    You are very able to state a post or even a person is unwanted in an email or reply and just not answer to his questions. Just be very clear that he will only get answers if he changes his attitude. The post should be aimed at stopping his bad behavior, avoiding the feeding of trolls.

    Oh, did someone start writing a code of conduct already that such a reply could point to?

  14. Somehow I agree with ZOLTAN BARTKO.

    I’m not even contributing code to KDE myself — though I plan to do some time when I know Qt and KDE better (Qt books here I come in the summer ๐Ÿ™‚ ) — but got easily frustrated by responding to forum posts over and over again that simply stated ‘crap’, ‘FUD’ etc.

    Concerning KDE 4, these were at first posts about “the bloatware KDE 4”, “why Phonon”, something with the Pillars of KDE, where are the configuration options (trollish comments on Gnome and KDE becoming Gnome), why not Compiz, where are my Icons … and all that over and over again often in the same thread by the same people despite links to blogs and explanations.

    So you could say FAQs could solve that. But there are allready FAQs, these people often just don’t want to waste their time reading them, instead they waste the responders’ time.

    It does not only waste time but also distracts from constructive criticism and or makes the responses to such less friendly.

    So what I’m trying to say here is that responding to these people needs a lot of energy and as Aaron concluded (in a bugreport) it’s simply a waste of energy as he — and I’m sure most other devs/people/aliens confronted with this issue — could use it a better way actually changing something.

    At the bottom line this imo results in: first the “good old” RTFM (links to FAQs that describe something better I could ever do) so that we have the same basis to talk about and then a better way to moderate blogs/the dot etc.

    Imo shareing the load as you try here is good, but no the solution to the problem. I think the framework around has to change as well.

    PS.: OMG longer than I expected.

  15. Hey, I’m just getting closer to KDE dev community and for sure, I’m 100% with you, as a dev and as a user!!! Bad bad trolls… =/

  16. @Thomas:
    I’m with you when it comes to stating clear borders between good and bad behaviour. But I doubt a “code of conduct” will lead us anywhere as those trolls won’t care anyway.
    All the others will correct themselves after a short but clear statement by us telling them to be polite (or whatever) because they don’t intend to hurt.

    Good points there, we should make people sign them. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. Aaron does amazing work!
    He really should keep his vision of a new Desktop! (As the whole plasma team should!)


  18. Tom Green is my hero!!!

    err, I love Aaron too ๐Ÿ˜›

    I mean, who else has the snappy comebacks when we talk sass for fun?

    Let Aaron chill a bit, do what he does best, and continue supporting him.

    And remember, the KDE community, users and developers and even those of you who thought about it, you rock and much love from me!!!

  19. Totally disagree with many developers (first time in years).

    The point is, where this thing started ?

    When a user opened a bug requesting to take off a component for the Desktop that the user said was causing some annoyances (not problems, my opinion), and, in the old spirit of KDE, the user said if it was possible to turn off that button.

    JUST THIS. Maybe not with these words, and this is where the problem starts.

    A developer could answer. “It is not the intention of the project to take off this button, it has utterly importance, but we can try, in future releases, to make it configurable. At the moment it is not possible. So we are going to put these request in our TODO list, in a advanced options configuration dialog”

    Simple request, simple answer, and it is over.

    What happened next: users started a flame war, saying the button is bullshit, plasma is bullshit, give my Desktop back, etc. Nonsense. Trolls.

    But some developers also started to answer, saying things like: i am closing the bug, it is not going to happen. Your suggestion is just bullshit, you cannot suggest, you are not smart, you do not understand the design, etc. This is trolling coming form plasma developers.

    BOTH SIDES ARE RIGHT AND WRONG. Right at their requests, wrong the way they express these requests. I am really sorry to say this to developers, but unfortunately is true.

    What happened next is just plain sad, all the flamewar created by this simple.

    And all developers talking about how wrong are the users, i, as a user (also a contributor, ok, but speaking as a user) have to say: yes, the developers were wrong also, and it is a matter of inteligence to accept that, and let things pass. We must remember we are human beings, and the importance of forgive mistakes, even honest mistakes made in this case, by all people involved.

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