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Ovid (2709)

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Stuff with the Perl Foundation. A couple of patches in the Perl core. A few CPAN modules. That about sums it up.

Journal of Ovid (2709)

Wednesday August 06, 2008
09:35 AM

Why I Often Hate Techies

[ #37110 ]

Getting hosed by the open source community, a link from Reddit. I completely feel for this guy. Most techies that I know are decent people who are quite helpful and friendly. Unfortunately, their numbers are dwindling. Basic civility seems to be lost and I don't think we're getting it back. The impersonal 'net teaches people that it's safe to be an asshole. Even I do it sometimes, but I apologize when I've realized it. This, I think, is the worst thing the 'net has given us.

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  • I direct you to this old post [] where I got slammed in #solaris.

    I never did contact Sun, btw. However, someone _did_ contact my boss because they didn't like my blog post. Made up some bullshit about how I was DOS'ing their website. Fortunately for me he was a socially retarded imbecile who left a message at midnight on a Friday, never identified what site I was supposedly DOS'ing, and never identified himself. But, it was still a rather unpleasant experience explaining to my (new at that time) boss what it

  • Not to be too juvenile, but I'd have to say he started it. His first substantive comments are:

    "Wordpress can't process it's own RSS feeds" followed by "its nuts". That could be seen as a bit provocative, and is bound to get a bad response.

    The right way to do this would be to say something like ...

    "It seems like Wordpress can't process it's own RSS feeds", "I have a standard WP-MU install, and when I do X I get this error: ..."

    Straightforward description of the problem, with relevant details and an error mes

    • Bollocks. Even when you use such flaccid words like 'it appears to' or 'it seems like' to soften a statement, fuckwads like those guys will still rip your head off and shit down your neck.
      • Whether providing tech support for free gives you leeway is bollocks or not, Dave’s central point is correct: the asker should have provided all relevant information and kept his tone neutral. At worst that would have given him a leg to stand on when complaining about the treatment he got; at best it would have gotten him the help he needed.

        • (And this is cold, results-oriented thinking, not even social competence. A robot would figure out that the most effective possible course of action is not to immediately drive the conversation into a ditch.)

      • hfb, true, which is why I tend to write "it doesn't work for me." Then they can feel free to blame you at first, and will be more likely to try to point out where you went wrong, and be more willing to accept blame themselves when they find out it was really their fault. :-)

    • He is also doing too much of a "kick me" with his, "Hand me the abuse, as long as I get the answer" attitude.

      Were I in his position I would have started off with, "I can't get Wordpress to process its own RSS feeds." Then, "It keeps telling me, 'Could not find an RSS or ATOM feed at that URL.'" "I've read the documentation and tried everything I can think of." If nobody responds to that then follow up with, "Does anyone have any ideas?"

      He thinks he knows how to handle technical people. I think he's mist

      • Yup, I'd find him pretty annoying if he whined like that on a channel for a project I used.

        I've done it myself a couple of times, and felt stupid afterwoods, but at least I have the good sense to know at least the basics of what I'm using and being able to provide useful information.

        The main problem is that he clearly has no idea of how to troubleshoot problems - why is he doing this kind of stuff ? He's going to always have a hard time because 90% of IT is troubleshooting pro blems like that.


        @JAPH = qw(Hacker Perl Another Just);
        print reverse @JAPH;
      • He is also doing too much of a "kick me" with his, "Hand me the abuse, as long as I get the answer" attitude.

        No kidding! I'm not impressed by the self-deprecation. It wouldn't make me treat a guy badly, but it does make it hard to take him seriously. At worst, it makes me think "He thinks I'm a jerk." It could be construed as a subtle insult.

        And the "I'll proclaim you God" crap would be religiously offensive to me if I were still the kind of guy who got offended religiously. (Calling myself God would be blasphemy in my religion, so calling me that is NOT a compliment to me in any way, shape, or form.) When y

        J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
        • It could be construed as a subtle insult.

          Given that the guy went out and posted this rant afterward, I'm inclined to believe it WAS a subtle insult. He was saying, "Yes, I know you guys are social cretins who aren't capable of treating anyone nicely." That appears to be what he believes. He wasn't willing to give them the same grace he wanted, forgiveness for acting like a jerk. He admits he acted like a jerk, and he expects it to be sweetly overlooked. So why can't he sweetly overlook their problems?

          His "Treat me like a jerk all you want, as

          J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • I agree with you. This guy got himself into trouble for wording things poorly (hint: don't use strong words if nobody on the channel knows you), and then he just dug himself in deeper. When you are new on an IRC channel and you don't understand someone's answer, google a little before you say "I don't get it". Also, don't invite people to taunt you, because they will do it if you ask them to!

      Finally, you have to realize what it's like to be on the developer side of things. Why should you answer someone'
      • I agree with you. This guy got himself into trouble for wording things poorly (hint: don't use strong words if nobody on the channel knows you),

        Hey, Ovid, I just wanted to come back and mention that as a result of this discussion, I reevaluated a non-technical online discussion that I had a couple of months ago and realized that I was at fault. It was just like jrockway says here: I showed up using strong words (not swearing or anything, but I was ranting, and I said so), and nobody knew me. They responded to my rant with anger, even though I wasn't ranting at them and expected sympathy. They bit my head off, misrepresented what I had said so th

        J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
        • Yay. You may be better than me here. I'm still struggling with this :)

          • Who says I'm not struggling??
            J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
  • is that you have to already be a part of the community, so that you know the proper tone to strike to get help. Otherwise, your chances of doing so cold, at a point when you're already frustrated, are pretty slim.

    On the one hand, it makes perfect community sense: rite of passage, yada yada. On the other hand, it's pretty appalling behavior for anyone out of junior high.

    Not sure what to think. I guess if the community is strengthened by driving off all but the most determined/thick-skinned newbies, it's a go

    • It's not you have to be part of a community it's that you have to help others to help you.

      At no point did he do that, he didn't double check when he followed instructions (despite clearly not understanding either the instructions or the tools), he didn't give an example of what he was doing, failed to give any useful information, and made the fatal error of being certain that a presumably well tested and widely used piece of software is broken rather than something he did or bad input.

      The guy was out of his


      @JAPH = qw(Hacker Perl Another Just);
      print reverse @JAPH;
      • If you think the response is in justifiable proportion to the mistakes he made (and yes, he did make them), you and I really aren't speaking the same language.

        • While I agree with you, I believe the point is that many people here would have kicked everyone out of the channel for being rude, whiny, tiresome, or plain ol' boring.

        • No, the response isn't reasonable - you don't have to respond in kind to rudeness, you also don't have to spend your time helping rude people, particularly if they are being stupid (beyond not knowing stuff, but failing to pay attention, provide useful information or in any way help them to help themselves).

          But.. it's worth remembering that the guy joined an irc channel, was rude about the project, insinuated that everybody there had no social skills and was sarcastic and unhelpful when they tried to help h


          @JAPH = qw(Hacker Perl Another Just);
          print reverse @JAPH;
  • He wasn't hosed, and two people on IRC are not spokespeople for the entire open source community.

    He also egged on the abuse by whining and being sarcastic instead of just focusing on his problem. Sure, everybody could have been more civil from the start, but I really don't think he has much of a platform to look down upon others from.
  • In my opinion, there are several violations of this document: [] Which I have used as an excellent staple to avoid making myself look like an idiot on many occasions.
    • Violating those rules doesn't excuse people being jerks.

      Second, ESR is hardly a shining example of how to behave to other people.

      Third, just because ESR said it doesn't make it holy canon.



      • True, but this is one of the least wrong things that ESR has ever published.

        • Except that when he says shit like

          What we are, unapologetically, is hostile to people who seem to be unwilling to think or to do their own homework before asking questions.

          it's saying "It's OK to be a dick to anyone who doesn't do things in the way I want."

          Justification of hostility is absurd.