Dave blogged once again and this time he took aim at the character of people. Even if we assume that I'm a raging asshole laying waste to the interactions going on around me, the track records remain for all the projects involved in freedesktop.org in terms of what each has adopted and what each has proposed. I really hope that people pay attention to the issues we face rather than pick on personalities involved.
I'm not going to write a rebuttal to Dave's essay point by point, but I would like to correct a statement Dave made that was not just unfair and incorrect but potentially quite damaging to the overall process because it is unnecessarily divisive: I do not have "no confidence in GNOME developers as a whole." This is not about the individual developers who work on GNOME as a faceless whole. I've known several of them for years and count a number of them as friends and associates. There as several who I have praised openly and publicly in the past for the technical and social work. To put it simply: I am not a bigot, and I'd ask that we not use such an idea as an excuse to dismiss the realities we face.
This really isn't about individual developers, and I do not paint every person in GNOME with the same brush in my mind. I don't do that for KDE, either: there is variety, some productive and some counter-productive, in any large group of people and our communities are not exceptions to that. However, casting me as some sort of "I hate all of you!" villain is not useful. Even if it were true, then people should simply ignore me as an individual actor in it and look at the large, long-term patterns that really do exist and really do need fixing. I am not personally responsible for everything, I was not even involved most of episodes that exhibited the unfortunate patterns we've been experiencing. So even if the messenger really, truly sucks and you really don't like them as a person, try to address the issues anyways. Avoid indulging in shooting the messenger as a way of dismissing issues and thereby relieving the perceived pain. It's only a distraction, and nothing gets improved that way.
Aside from all that, I do find hope in the discussions being had: Dave says freedesktop.org is not functioning the way it should, and I've heard the same from others. People have been trying to put forward possible ways to improve it for some time now. Those involved in freedesktop.org as a whole haven't actually been trying out those ideas in practice, and that is a bit discouraging and certainly not helping. Having a functional, healthy collaboration zone (or zones) would be to all our benefit and I do hope that we find the time, energy and courage to try to better our processes.
Starting with clear problem statements, as Dave suggests, might be one thing to do. We now have a defined git repository to house specs in a shared fashion, perhaps we can now add usage metadata to that repository so we can easily track who is using, who is developing and who is participating in each effort clearly. This would help address Dave's concern of ensuring that projects have the appropriate individuals around them, as we'd be able to easily identify when they don't. This is a source of insight we currently lack. There are certainly other improvements to be made as well, and I hope that we can shift the discussion to those things.
Before I sign off for the day (it's a beautiful sunny Saturday outside, and we're going to go for a walk and some shopping in a bit!), I also wanted to clear some technical errors in Dave's blog:
- StatusNotifiers are not about notifications. This an understandable error I've seen repeated a few times as the word "notifier" is in the name, but it is actually about system tray icons or "message area" entries. The use of the word "Notifier" was to emphasize that it is about communicating application status rather than presenting a full interactive interface. It really, though, has nothing to do with notifications themselves, which is a whole other technical topic.
- StatusNotifiers did start with a clear problem statement, namely that the XEmbed system tray icons were failing us in a number of technical manners. This problem statement was shared on the xdg@ list more than once and over the course of several years, and a number of projects other than KDE agreed (Enlightenment is one that jumps to mind, for instance). Where we could have done better is to repeat that statement when introducing the StatusNotifiers spec to the xdg@ list, something Dave observes. We simply can not assume people will have read and remembered past discussions and need to keep context. StatusNotifiers did start, however, with a clear and communicated problem statement.
- Changes and improvements suggested were made to the spec, though not all were, particularly those that deviated from the design in such a way as to make the entire concept of host-side rendering control moot. We didn't show up with something hard-baked and without flex in it.