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Kernel Dev Tells Linus Torvalds To Stop Using Abusive Language 1501

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the cool-to-hate dept.
darthcamaro writes "The Linux Kernel Development Mailing List can be a hostile place for anyone. Now Intel developer Sarah Sharp is taking a stand and she wants the LKML to become a more civil place. Quoting her first message: 'Seriously, guys? Is this what we need in order to get improve -stable? Linus Torvalds is advocating for physical intimidation and violence. Ingo Molnar and Linus are advocating for verbal abuse. ... Violence, whether it be physical intimidation, verbal threats or verbal abuse is not acceptable. Keep it professional on the mailing lists.'" The entire thread is worth a read, but Linus isn't buying it: "Because if you want me to 'act professional', I can tell you that I'm not interested. I'm sitting in my home office wearing a bathrobe. The same way I'm not going to start wearing ties, I'm *also* not going to buy into the fake politeness, the lying, the office politics and backstabbing, the passive aggressiveness, and the buzzwords. Because THAT is what 'acting professionally' results in: people resort to all kinds of really nasty things because they are forced to act out their normal urges in unnatural ways.' He also offered cookies in exchange for joining the dark side. An earlier reply by Linus further explains why he thinks it is OK to be mean: most of the time, he's only yelling at people who should know better (cultivating a crew of lead developers bound to him by Stockholm Syndrome?).
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Kernel Dev Tells Linus Torvalds To Stop Using Abusive Language

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  • by lvxferre (2470098) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:14PM (#44290689)

    Torvalds was always like that and whining won't change him.

  • by cheesybagel (670288) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:16PM (#44290695)

    If someone else managed to do his job better than him it would be trivial to do a fork. That this has not happened is a testament that his way doing things works. Simple as that. So what if he is verbally abusive.

  • Victim Card (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zaelath (2588189) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:16PM (#44290699)

    How can you not be playing the victim card when you self-identify as a minority, join a community and demand that it change it's standards to match your own?

  • hes right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by luther349 (645380) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:16PM (#44290703)
    if you ever worked well any job you know what hes talking bought. people nice to your face wile they back stab you in backroom office talks.
  • This just in (Score:4, Insightful)

    by redmid17 (1217076) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:17PM (#44290723)
    Deal with it. No one is forcing you to work with him. The great thing about FOSS and the Linux kernel is you can fork it all you want. You can take your ball and go home.
  • by blankinthefill (665181) <> on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:20PM (#44290745) Journal
    I just recently graduated with a degree in mathematics, and a minor in computer science. I can program well, for the amount of experience I have, and I would love to get better. I, personally, think that one of the best ways that I could get better is to contribute to OSS projects. However, I can't lie, reading stories about the abusiveness of the community is a huge turn off. Now, I realize that I am probably not one of those people who 'should know better,' and I realize that really extraordinary outbursts are rare (which is why they get reported on, obviously), but I still have enormous trepidation about joining the OSS community. I feel I may have talent and ideas to contribute, but when I see stories about the way that people get treated when they make mistakes, it makes me want to avoid the whole thing. I wouldn't be doing it for money, I would be doing it for fun, and to learn. And as far as I'm concerned, if I'm going to be abused for making mistakes, I am not having fun, and I am likely not learning much either. Now, again, I understand that this is not usually the case as far as OSS development, but I'm just relaying my gut reaction to hearing about behavior like that.
  • About time (Score:1, Insightful)

    by CptPicard (680154) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:21PM (#44290759)

    For as much as I respect Linus for the work he's done, his outbursts are getting old and are not funny anymore. I dislike political correctness and bullshit as well, but if you really have a point to make in this regard, it can be made with less rhetorical aggression, even when being blunt about it.

  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:22PM (#44290769) Journal

    I know this has to happen sooner or later.

    For past few decades, political Correctness has been steadily encroaching into all aspects of our lives, and now, even the Linux Kernel Development is not spared.

    I hope sane minds within the KD will prevail, and stop the PC disease from spreading further, or else, they would start to cherry-picking for some of the more exotic labels within the source codes and make a mountain out of a molehill.

  • by mdenham (747985) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:23PM (#44290785)

    From one of the more recent things he engaged his primary flame-cannon over, the person he aimed it at did screw up pretty badly and for no apparent reason (I mean, seriously, submitting code that you don't know if it works and you admit is probably not necessary? Don't do that).

    So no, I don't think he's a dick for the sake of being a dick - he's a dick because people shouldn't be submitting things that are broken and that kind of person deserves to be told off.

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:24PM (#44290791)

    As soon as someone uses the phrase "not acceptable" they've admitted they've lost, they're merely trying to impose something between their ears on another person, it is not a reason to do anything. Someone will always object to any action you care to take or plan to take. "A man who has no enemies is no good, you can't move without making friction"

  • by ISoldat53 (977164) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:24PM (#44290799)
    Sounds like MS in the early days. Management by screaming. I guess it was successful too.
  • by murdocj (543661) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:25PM (#44290807)

    Not being a dick != political correctness

  • Re:linus is frank (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ifiwereasculptor (1870574) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:25PM (#44290815)

    As long as he doesn't dabble in hypocrisy, by complaining when someone is rude to him (and I have not heard of that kind of behavior, so I assume he doesn't mind), and as long as he has a point, I think it's both effective and entertaining. What's not to like?

  • by blankinthefill (665181) <> on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:25PM (#44290817) Journal
    Also, I know it's rather passe to reply to your own comment, but there were 13 other comments posted while I was reading and writing my post, and in that time 9 comments were posted supporting that kind of harsh, abusive, abrasive technique. I think I couldn't sum up any better myself why I fear getting into OSS. With this behavior so acceptable to the community, why should I even try to get into it? I wouldn't put up with it at a job for money, yet I'm expected to just ignore it, or quit the game, when I am contributing my own effort, free time, and enthusiasm?
  • by djl4570 (801529) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:26PM (#44290827) Journal
    Linus is damaging the reputation of Linux one profane outburst at a time. His conduct towards the developers, abusive language and such would get you fired in any Fortune 500 environment. CIO's will read about the petulant profane behavior in industry rags and ask themselves if they want to build an enterprise around software controlled by someone who cannot control his own emotions. Professional behavior is not about fake politeness or passive aggressive behavior. Professional behavior is about engaging your peers in civil discourse. You can say something is broken or the code is wrong with critical analysis and without angry profane screeds.
  • by quantaman (517394) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:29PM (#44290867)

    If someone else managed to do his job better than him it would be trivial to do a fork. That this has not happened is a testament that his way doing things works. Simple as that. So what if he is verbally abusive.

    The fact Linux is awesome and Linus is an abusive and profane manager doesn't mean the profanity and abuse is necessary to make Linux awesome. It could be it helps cut through the BS and makes things more clear and efficient, it could also be being clear and direct would be just as effective and the profanity actually makes people emotional and irrational.

    The fact it's working doesn't mean it can't be improved.

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:30PM (#44290881) Homepage

    His conduct towards the developers, abusive language and such would get you fired in any Fortune 500 environment.

    Honestly I can't tell if you're serious, but that's the funniest thing I've read all day on Slashdot.

  • by bmo (77928) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:32PM (#44290895)

    I think I couldn't sum up any better myself why I fear getting into OSS.

    Your problem is thinking that this any different in a closed software shop or any other workplace where work is actually being done.

    Good luck with that thin skin.


  • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:33PM (#44290909)
    Okay, that's nice. Do you talk that way to your wife while at home in your bathrobe? Your mother? Neighborhood children? It's not "fake politeness" to stop using abusive language, it's normal politeness. You're just being an asshole.
  • by 0123456 (636235) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:33PM (#44290911)

    Not being a dick != political correctness

    There are few things more dickish than 'you must behave the way I tell you to' political correctness.

  • by fredprado (2569351) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:33PM (#44290921)
    "Not being a dick" depends highly on the opinion and the sensibilities of the people affected. Trying to not be a dick to everyone regardless of their arbitrary sensibilities is called being politically correct, and it is a great disease of our time.
  • Re:Victim Card (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:34PM (#44290933)

    It all derailed when it started referring to "verbal threats" and "verbal abuse" as "violence". Sorry, but unless a dev is at my door with a baseball bat, it's just words. Additionally, we've all dealt with people who are crude, terse, mean, or just flat out obnoxious prima-donas. It only impacts you if you give a shit. I've dealt with some of those in my career and all that matters to me is whether they are productive and talented. Telling me "you made a stupid fucking mistake" isn't any worse than "Please don't take this too harshly and please don't think I am picking on you. I like you and you are a swell fellow and all. However, I feel it is necessary that I impress upon you that this isn't really a bug and having this trivial and non-broken thing filed as a bug has consumed a little bit of our time that we would rather not be wasting on things like this. Also, here is a pat on the back and an atta-boy so you don't feel I am being mean to you, okay?".

    Granted, it might be a little unprofessional to use crude language with people. CEOs and other muckety-mucks do it all the time, however. It's also a little different between using crude language and lashing out at people with crude language to insult them and put them down. But, again, that's just the way things are and it is just the way some people are. It really does not have to impact you in the slightest if you don't want it to (and it doesn't hurt to learn to give it back - especially if you can do so cleverly, with wit, and without the matching vulgarity).

    I don't doubt this sort of thing does put some people off from contributing and participating. I sure as hell wouldn't participate in anything that involved Linus and other well-known and super-smart guys, because I know I'm not at their level and I would just constantly be on the receiving end of "how fucking stupid can you be?!". But you know what? Maybe that's okay. Maybe it weeds out people who don't have the spine to deal with it or who take everything so personally that everything has to become a drama rather than just getting work done.

    Of course, Linus could be less of an asshole (even when his points are very fair). But I don't see why he should feel he *has* to be less of one. *shrug*. I also think it's a little different than if he was someone's direct boss in a workplace and he was walking outside of his office to constantly berate, ride, ridicule, and harass his employees for being totally incompetent.

  • by lvxferre (2470098) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:36PM (#44290943)

    Verbally abusing someone indicates a lack of verbal skills in the sense that the abuser can't express yourself properly.

    You're implying two things here:
    1. The person who verbally abuses does so because they can't express themself in another way (this is false), and
    2. Verbal abuse isn't "proper" - define "proper".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:37PM (#44290953)

    This may actually show how HEALTHY the Linux kernel developers community is. Where else can a junior person tell the CEO he's being an asshole in front of the whole company? You'd be fired.

  • Re:hes right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:37PM (#44290959)

    Yep. I used to sit about five feet from a guy who was in management (but not my management) who for some inexplicable reason disliked me. Not only did he dislike me, but he talked shit about me to other managers and employees behind my back. He was very nice to my face, though. I would never have known any of this if it weren't for a colleague and another manager who clued me into what this guy was saying. And, fortunate for me, these people always countered his comments, told him he was wrong, and otherwise stood up for me in his non-sense rally to bash me to people.

    I would have rather he had just been an asshole to me and lay it out, so we knew where we stood.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:37PM (#44290963)

    Bullocks. Forking is not a simple procedure even if you have the stones to be an effective leader. You need to be at least as popular as the guys doing the doing the original project or there needs to be something fundamentally wrong with the direction of the project. Otherwise you're just another fork no one asked for.

  • by exomondo (1725132) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:37PM (#44290969)
    What's this got to do with political correctness?
  • by nanotech (34819) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:41PM (#44291007)

    I've worked with people like Linus many times; brilliant, know it, and abuse those who suggest ideas that don't align with their world view. They are usually correct when they shoot down an idea. However, I avoid them at all costs, both from a hiring and from peer perspective, because they are a cancer in most organizations, and the long term cost of dealing with their anti-social behaviour greatly outweighs the benefit they bring.

    Abuse does not solve problems. Belittling others does not benefit anyone. It's fine to be blunt and explain why the idea proposed will not work, it saves time and energy. It is sign of a deeply flawed personality to attack the person who proposed the idea that won't work.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr AT mac DOT com> on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:41PM (#44291009) Journal

    2) Meeting deadlines is stressful.

    Since when does Linux have deadlines?


  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:42PM (#44291017)

    What's this got to do with political correctness?

    Nothing at all. That is just the "PC Card" that is played whenever rude or abusive people don't like to be told they are acting like wanton children. It's their excuse to act as rude as they like for the sake of the attention it brings them.

  • by Nemyst (1383049) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:42PM (#44291021) Homepage
    Respect, even when faced with inexperience or incompetence, does exist in workplaces "where work is actually being done". If you have never experienced this, I'd suggest taking a good hard look at your own attitude. You reap what you sow, as they say.
  • by bmo (77928) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:43PM (#44291029)

    ...with their faux outrage at Linus' "tantrums." They're not, if you read context, but this isn't about context. This "controversy" is all about slamming Linus personally and Linux by implication by comparing his management style against a non-existent ponies-and-rainbows environment. And this isn't the first time it's happened here.

    Such bullshit.


  • by 0123456 (636235) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:43PM (#44291037)

    Saying something is "not acceptable" is not an argument. It's a demand. Or, at best, a whine.

    And demanding that people 'act professionally' is demanding that they shut up and do what they're told, because that's what 'acting professionally' means.

  • People talk that way at the office, it's just not openly aired. The LKML is like an office for the developers, but it's kept around for all to see, it's not shocking to me that it crosses the lines of what one would see in corporate email, when people are much more in contact with those they work with. I also like that actual offensive behavior can be seen by all, and tracked.

  • by tftp (111690) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:48PM (#44291091) Homepage

    His methodology ensures he gets only experienced developers.

    No, his methodology ensures that he gets experienced developers who don't mind an abusive boss. I consider myself experienced, but I would never work for a boss who dares to scream at me. I'd be out of the door before the echoes subside.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:50PM (#44291119)

    The English have mastered delivering withering insults very politely. Simply being polite does not make you "nice". Is it more "professional" to wrap your disdain for an idea in language that is courteous on the surface? Maybe. Is the emperor going to change? Unlikely.

    They got nothing on the French. Voltaire's criticism led to suicides. But regardless, this represents a change in Linus' historical behavior. It could just be stress, or it could hint at the onset of a mental illness. Increased aggression, changes in mood or attitude, impaired judgement, black and white or "us versus them" thinking... while many might chalk this up to poor manners on the internet, it could hint at something more substantial.

    Either way, people are focusing on the behavior, but are neglecting to take notice of the fact that while the kernel-dev mailing list has always been, achem, heated... this is still a significant departure from baseline -- it's starting to make headlines in a big way too. People do not simply wake up one day and decide they're going to be abusive assholes -- there are triggers, changes to the person's environment or biology.

    Separately, I'm not sure abusive language is ever good for the long-term health of a cooperative project -- it may not be a professional environment, but it's not exactly amateur hour either. Repeated abuse and disrespect is not conducive to a productive and cooperative environment. See also: The reason why there are so many flavors of BSD.

  • by CrankyFool (680025) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:51PM (#44291127)

    Well, I guess that's my cue.

    I work in a pretty successful technology company. We have a "no brilliant jerks" policy. Doesn't matter how good someone is, if they're actively corrosive to working with people, they're gone.

    That doesn't mean I don't see developers getting into heated discussions about the merits of technical issues. But those heated discussions are professional, utterly impersonal, and without a shred of meanness. They just disagree.

    This whole "good engineers are assholes" myth is, well, a myth that has been promulgated by a group of people more dominated by assholes than by good engineers.

    I applaud Sarah Sharp and, blankinthefill, I want you know not all environments are like this. Not even all successful FOSS projects.

  • by Maestro485 (1166937) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:52PM (#44291131)

    I'm sorry, but at this point in my programming life, I don't have the knowledge to be able to stand up to some dev with 10 or 15, or hell, even 5, years of real experience, and tell them why they're wrong, and I'm right.

    And that is why Linus has absolutely no time for you or your ideas. He's maintaining one of the biggest projects out there and doesn't care about your feelings. Put up or shut up and get the hell out.

    But don't forget that the vast majority of projects out there are not this cut throat. The vast majority of projects are also not this big and this fundamental either. There are plenty of projects that would love your contributions at this stage of your career. The Linux kernel is absolutely not one of those projects.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:58PM (#44291179)

    There are few things more dickish than 'you must behave the way I tell you to' political correctness.

    Like the "you must tolerate my gratuitous abuse because I am more important than you" 'tude?

  • by ancientt (569920) <> on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:58PM (#44291183) Homepage Journal

    And of course there is another option. You can refuse to accept that things you don't like cannot change and choose to try to improve them while still contributing something worthwhile. I don't agree with Sarah Sharp's assessment, but I respect her for trying to make something she cares about better rather than abandoning it because she doesn't like some small part of the whole system.

    I do think that we'd agree that professionalism is a good thing. I personally avoid cursing because it rarely improves communication and often gives people a reason to ignore what you have to say. Yet I highly respect someone saying what they mean in a way that makes it prefectly clear. For some people that means cursing or sounding harsh and I value that a lot more than sounding professional. If you can manage both, then it is what I think Linus and Sarah would both hope for, but if I have to choose between being professional and communicating successfully, I'll take the latter.

    I appreciate people who can say "I disagree with you and don't like your decision" without also resorting to an ultimatium to "do it my way or I won't play."

  • by blankinthefill (665181) <> on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:58PM (#44291187) Journal
    I don't fear criticism. I embrace it. I WANT criticism, with one caveat. I want USEFUL criticism, not rampant abuse. Now, I understand that in place like Kernel Development, you're not working with people who are green in their development skills. But the point I was trying to make is that I think that exceptionally visible abusive behavior can set a model for others to follow. It also creates the idea in people looking in from the outside that their work is not desired, because they know that they will make a multitude of mistakes and take time to learn, and they see that, instead of being taught what their mistakes were through useful criticism, they will merely have abuse thrown at them. Now, I'm in NO WAY claiming that all OSS projects are like this! Far from it. I know that many OSS projects are very open and welcoming, with a desire to foster and grow new talent. But that doesn't remove the niggling fear in the back of my mind that I will be treated in the same way that I see experienced developers being treated in many cases
  • by Oligonicella (659917) on Monday July 15, 2013 @07:59PM (#44291193)
    When I'm speaking to someone, it is unacceptable for them to treat me with discourtesy, as I do not treat them in that manner. It is a delimitation, not an imposition. It is a statement that the *manner* in which they've chosen to present their argument is unacceptable, not the argument itself. No one has the unfettered right to abuse others in whatever manner they see fit.
  • Re:Not acceptable? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:03PM (#44291251)

    Who is it not acceptable to? and why can't those people make their own fork or simply not participate in the mailing list? (besides Sarah Sharp) If we were losing lots of talented developers because they just couldn't bear the mailing list, that would be a different story.

    Honest question: how would you know if you were losing lots of talented developers? Not many people are going to speak up to let you know that your behavior is toxic. They'll just leave and take their skills elsewhere.

    There is no absolute morality of the way things should be. There is what works. If you have a way to make something work better, no one is stopping you.

    This isn't really related to the main discussion, but it's such a terrible attitude that I felt compelled to comment. Slavery works. Human experimentation works. Spying on every citizen in the country works. Morality matters. Being rude to people on a mailing list really isn't a big deal, morality-wise, but let's not go saying that the ends always justify the means.

  • by Agent ME (1411269) <agentme49&gmail,com> on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:04PM (#44291263)

    If you're so into tolerance, why don't you tolerate my intolerance? GOTCHA QED /s

  • Linus isn't a dick though; indeed, he's quite laid-back and personable. When he criticizes someone like this, his criticisms are almost universally very accurate, and he only uses "extreme" language when (1) the person he's addressing did something really stupid ("merely stupid" isn't enough) and (2) that person really should have known better (so he doesn't tend to do this to strangers, only people he's well acquainted with, and has some trust in). He doesn't just call people names, he makes detailed technical arguments which happen to be decorated with er, expressive language.

    This particular style is very common in the tech world, and if anything, Linus is far better than most, because he strictly sticks to technical criticisms; his language may be extreme, but for him, it isn't personal—if he is wrong, he'll very quickly admit it and apologize. Almost all of the time, the conversation quickly calms down and settles into a discussion of how to make things right. Note that this makes him vastly better than average: there are many others in the tech community who do take things personally, and won't back down no matter how obviously wrong they are.

    This style isn't to everyone's tastes, and to someone who isn't familiar with Linus or the LKML, I guess it can be startling to see one of these exchanges. Maybe there are times when he goes too far. But claims that he's "abusive" are simply laughable. Things are not always as they appear at first glance...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:07PM (#44291293)

    Or we can just wait until he dies and someone else takes over.

    You can accept this or not, but neither you, I nor Linus are going to live forever, nor is Linus' propensity to abuse people who are partially responsible for his own success.

    As you say, "this is a part of what he is, and he won't change." Evidently you think that this is a quality worth respecting.

    This is wrong. More importantly, this is "fanboyism" at its worst. I'm personally glad someone finally stepped forward and made Linus look like the childish brat he's become in the past few years. Just because he made that kernel you like doesn't mean every decision he makes is fucking gold. Get over it.

  • Re:Victim Card (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:09PM (#44291319)

    Because writing a terse couple sentences with vulgarities targeted at you in a mailing list that you voluntarily subscribe to for a project you voluntarily participate in is exactly the same as someone stalking you in meatspace, on your property, incessantly harassing you?

  • by turbidostato (878842) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:09PM (#44291323)

    "The fact Linux is awesome and Linus is an abusive and profane manager doesn't mean the profanity and abuse is necessary to make Linux awesome."

    No. But the fact that Linus is sometimes abusive, plus the fact that he thinks that sometimes he has to be abusive, plus the fact that he leads no less than Linux as a testament to his management abilities does mean something.

    He has a theory, he practices it and he has success backing him. You have a theory and... what else?

  • by atriusofbricia (686672) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:10PM (#44291335) Journal

    If Sarah cannot stand the heat, she should go back to the kitchen.

    See - now that is political incorrectness.

    Yet also a fair statement. After all, when you attempt to join a community you either abide by the rules and customs of that community or else you leave and go elsewhere. You do not demand that community change to meet your world view.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:12PM (#44291353)

    This is about showing respect and civility by controlling your attitude and language. There's a difference between, "the release candidate process is only for bug fixes, I will reject any changes that do not fix bugs" and, "what do you call this shit? it's fucking shit, I need you to die. Come back when you're dead and I might think about letting you in".

  • Re:Victim Card (Score:5, Insightful)

    by turbidostato (878842) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:15PM (#44291379)

    "Telling me "you made a stupid fucking mistake""

    Specially if you in fact made a stupid fucking mistake. And here comes the nut of the issue: how many time does Linus tell somebody that "made a stupid fucking mistake" and it resulted that in the end it was not a stupid fucking mistake?

    You know, first well-know "harsh" conversation from Linus was the one with Tanembaum, if you see my point... and he was back then just a pimply young fellow.

  • by fredprado (2569351) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:16PM (#44291383)
    You can always try to change things you have little chance to change, but don't come crying when you fail, nor try to play the victim card.

    And I do not agree with your indoctrinated bullshit. "Professionalism" is not and won't ever be a good thing. Most worth things created in this world came from unprofessional people. And cursing is a tool as any other despite your prejudices and oversensibilities regarding it.

    I appreciate people who can say "I disagree with you and don't like your decision" without also resorting to an ultimatium to "do it my way or I won't play."

    However you may feel about it, that is a motive why companies and kernel development groups are not democracies. If you can't take direct orders you can't work in group.

  • by fredprado (2569351) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:17PM (#44291397)
    In my opinion, any person sensible enough to feel antagonized by it at this level is a drama queen and is better off.
  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:19PM (#44291419)

    You need to have the skin of a thousand rhino and the determination of the super-est of all supermen to push your idea across the many seasoned, and equally thick-skinned developers.

    So having a good idea well developed and code that is written cleanly and clearly isn't important, it is more important to be able to browbeat others into liking it.

    The so-called "abusive languages" is but a mechanism to weed out ideas which are not fully thought-over.

    And here I thought that a clear and concise technical discussion would be a way to weed out ideas that are not fully thought-over. Or simply saying "your idea is not fully developed and it will not appear in the kernel." Who knew that the only way to do that was to be verbally abusive and insulting?

    I think it speaks volumes that the concept of "acting professionally" seems to mean only not wearing a bathrobe when in private to some. I think the phrase "unclear on the concept" was developed for people like that.

    If you can't stand the heat, dear Sir, I suggest you to get out of the kitchen.

    It's interesting you use a kitchen analogy in this discussion. For several years I've been watching Gordon Ramsay in his various rant-prone self-promotional programs. For the last couple of months I've been watching MasterChef on BBC America with Michel Rue. The difference is that Gordon Ramsay is a foul-mouthed abusive fellow who can do nothing but yell and insult the people competing in his programs when they make the tiniest mistake, and Michel Rue's harshest comment has been along the lines of "that needed more seasoning" or "that was too pink for my taste". When Ramsay's folks bring him poorly produced food he throws pans and pots; Rue wrinkles his nose a bit and says "that wasn't your best work". The other difference is that Ramsay's contestants produce zero-star pablum and Rue gets one-star creative performances from his. It seems one feels the need to express his superiority at every chance, the other wishes to develop talents in others. They are both good at achieving their goals. I'll leave it to the reader to guess which goal I think is more worthy.

  • by fredprado (2569351) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:19PM (#44291421)
    And hope that the person who takes over after him does not follow suit. And I do think it is a quality worth respect. We are full of politically correct idiocy in this world. It is past time people start to say what they really mean without fear of offending others. Nobody has the right to live their lives without being offended, and it is part of being an adult to learn to "take it like a man".
  • by adri (173121) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:19PM (#44291429) Homepage Journal

    American Civil Rights Movement.

    Done, done.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:20PM (#44291435)

    Naa, he doesn't think he needs to be. He gets his rocks off by being abusive. It's a ego-fueled power trip. Nothing else.

  • by plover (150551) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:21PM (#44291449) Homepage Journal

    When did civility become a disease?

    Most of the time when people complain about political correctness, it's because they the self-discipline or the intelligence necessary to compose a polite reply. Clearly Linus is not lacking in intelligence, but he seems short on common sense here.

    Political correctness, when done well, is a more effective weapon than boorishness. Calling someone a fool is easy, but crass and wasteful. In the eyes of the audience it lowers you to the level of the fool, and you have to work harder to prove you aren't. Giving someone else the opportunity to open their own mouth and prove themselves a fool, now that's economical. They'll happily blather out their inanity on their own, if you let them.

  • Re:Attaboy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grashnak (1003791) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:23PM (#44291467)

    I'm very honest and direct with the people who work with and for me. And yet magically I'm not an asshole like Linus. If you're incapable of delivering an honest and direct message without abusing people, then you're a shitty human being.

    Honest and direct: "This is not good enough. The logic is flawed and the code is sloppy. Go back and do it again".
    Asshole: "How fucking stupid do you have to be to write something like this crap".

    See the difference?

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:24PM (#44291475)

    And no one did this better than Steve Jobs from what I heard from people who've been in meetings with him. In the corporate world, essentially the CEO, a few execs, and star sales members, can get away with being foul mouthed and abusive but absolutely everyone else has to be polite. So what happens if that you get some major culture shock of seeing unprofessional behavior when you find yourself in a meeting with the CEO, however you also get that culture shock if you start working on open source.

  • by bferrell (253291) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:30PM (#44291525) Homepage Journal

    Lack of conflict, and harsh language does NOT mean civil. In practice, in the US, it means dishonesty.

    That said, honesty without compassion is brutality.

    I've never seen Linus be brutal

  • by robot256 (1635039) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:31PM (#44291535)

    If you're so into tolerance, why don't you tolerate my intolerance? GOTCHA QED /s

    For the same reason that "free market" is an oxymoron. Either the market is regulated by a central authority, or it is quickly captured by a dominant player(s) and ceases to function as a market. The one thing that you are not free to do is to impede others' freedom.

    If a "tolerant society" allowed its members to be intolerant to one another, it would no longer be a tolerant society. The sole bit of uniformity we ask of our members is that they not judge us based on all our other nonuniformities. Is that so hard to understand?

    And to save you the trouble of responding to my straight-man comeback, WHOOSH.

  • by Cwix (1671282) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:31PM (#44291539)

    I am guessing he loves his wife and kids. I also hazard a guess that he does not love the ones on the mailing list.

    I certainly treat loved ones differently then co workers. do you not?

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:33PM (#44291563)

    However this is also what many people complain about with bad managers. There are many ways to handle problems and not all of them involve yelling and abuse. It affects more than just the person receiving the chewing out, the bystanders are also influenced and may feel that they're in a hostile environment (ie, stressed out to never make a mistake lest they get same treatment). There are managers who strongly felt that yelling was the proper way to motivate people, however those managers are now much more rare because companies are more aware of the problems and crack down on it.

    Ie, the old saying of "you attract more flies with honey than vinegar" covers this subject, as well as books like "How to win friends and influence people".

    In this case I think the abuse is in doing the chewing out in public. That is fully intended to embarrass that person as well as intimidate others. A private message would have also served the purpose to correct the developer, and especially if the developer doesn't mind emails full of expletives then Linus could go crazy in that private email. I am certain there are people out there who shy away from Linux kernel development precisely because of the culture on those mailing lists. Some people thrive on stress and others wilt under it.

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:37PM (#44291595)

    the CEO, a few execs, and star sales members, can get away with being foul mouthed and abusive but absolutely everyone else has to be polite.

    That may be the case in the corporate world. But Linus will take it as well as dish it out.

    I have often seen this same "enforced politeness" tried on other mailing lists, and the result is always the same. The "wizards" soon migrate somewhere else, and the mailing list becomes nothing but a bunch of clueless (but polite) noobs commiserating with each other.

  • by westlake (615356) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:41PM (#44291635)

    No, his methodology ensures that he gets experienced developers who don't mind an abusive boss.

    Which implies that his successor is also likely to be an abusive boss --- and that the bosses of every large scale FOSS project will take their cues from them. It is the culture Linus helps sustain and perpetuates that worries me, not the man himself.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:42PM (#44291653)

    I don't care how good he is, Linus has turned into a total complete dick in recent years. I followed him on Google+ for a while but I can't stand to read his posts any longer. It's one thing to be a dick, it's another to be arrogant, but he's crossed into the "I'm famous enough now that I have throngs of people that will agree with me no matter how much of a jerk I am"

    Ironically his argument about fake politeness is EXACTLY what he's getting. People are pretending that his horrible behavior is acceptable just because they don't want to get on his bad side. Acting professionally is not about politeness, it's about not muddying up the conversation with information that's not useful.

  • by Arker (91948) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:42PM (#44291655) Homepage
    If you would seriously physically assault someone speaking to you bluntly, you are the one with a problem.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:43PM (#44291663)

    My premise: People are dumb
    My evidence: All People. Ever.
    My solution: Tell them they are dumb.

    You can not place blame effectively with PC language, it strips you of all impact. In many cases, such as those described in the stories where Linus goes off on people, these people needed to be blamed, and needed to understand that they deserved that blame. There are more creative ways to do it than to use foul language, but lets face it. Telling someone they "fucked up" has impact. If you do it publicly it has even more. If it causes the person to leave the project, then maybe they didn't learn, but they won't be fucking up anything else on your project. Linux is slightly too important to be fucking up the build.

    Also, the reason I'm a non-dev is fear of the corporate environment where there is no open communication, just a lot of P's and Q's being minded. I would absolutely adore the business world if you could tell a person to their face that they'd fucked up and not expect to get written up or fired over it. We're all humans, not a single one of us has ever died from vulgar language, lets get the fuck over it.

  • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:43PM (#44291665)

    To be fair, anyone willing to take advice from a geek, who lives in his basement in a bathrobe, probably deserves the end result.

    It does nothing but serve his ego (and yes I know I will get flamed for this). There are valid reasons to keep things civil on the surface. Claiming we should just 'let it all out' in a professional environment is obviously not the way that the rest of the professional world has gone, with good reason. It's called acting like an adult, and most professionals learned to do so at an early age.

    Linus should not be held to some different standard.

  • Re:Victim Card (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dnavid (2842431) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:44PM (#44291671)
    "Can I come to your door and swear at you all day long?" No, but if *I* come to *your* door you can swear at me all you want, because I can always leave.
  • by dnavid (2842431) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:50PM (#44291717)
    "I work in a pretty successful technology company. We have a "no brilliant jerks" policy. Doesn't matter how good someone is, if they're actively corrosive to working with people, they're gone."

    You highlight the enormous difference between your company and the Linux Kernel Development community. Someone exists that can fire people.

  • Re:Women in tech.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zapotek (1032314) <tasos.laskos@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:57PM (#44291775) Homepage
    What's up with the assumption that women are delicate little flowers that need to be protected because they can't handle...anything? Seems to me like your POV is a bigger problem.
  • by MrNemesis (587188) on Monday July 15, 2013 @08:57PM (#44291779) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, as a Brit I'm somewhat confused by this article; is Linus being hauled over the coals for telling people off for making mistakes? Or for using "cuss" words? Or just both at the same time?

    In the type of circles I move in, I really only think I've witnessed the following three attitudes when it comes to dealing with/confronting failure:
    People who'll call you a fucking idiot
    People who'll call you a pusillanimous carbuncle with the intellectual capacity of a particularly forlorn used condom
    People who won't really tell you whether you've fucked up or not, but will often go away thinking you've failed, and acting upon it, without giving you the chance to learn from your mistake or even show you you made one, all under the guise of "politeness" or "professionalism"

    Assuming of course they're correctly identifying faults, of the three types, IMHO the first two are capable of forging a good working relationships whereas the third passively destroys relationships by having no feedback system. Sure, there's a difference in the degree of skin thickness required between types 1 and 2 but if you're the sort of person that can accept constructive criticism in the first place you're already doing better than most.

    There are various degrees of the above of course, depending on the magnitude of the mistake, but when I fuck up, I'd prefer someone to tell me I've fucked up. Disguise the swearing with some floridity if you really feel you want or need to, but the intent is still the same and it's the intent that's all important IMHO.

    Linus' job is more than just that of a manager, he's also a mentor and a teacher as well. Occasionally this means hauling out a particularly daft member of the school for everyone else to see and making an example of them. If Linus doesn't tell people off when they start going wrong sooner or later someone pushes there luck and eventually you get 20MB patches dumped in rc8 to break the last 10MB patch that went in in rc7.

    I don't know if it's a cultural taboo about the word fuck and friends (it seems that way on slashdot sometimes with lots of people self-editing themselves with pithless hackronyms like "BS") but I've not met anyone in/from europe (including Finns) or any commonwealth country that doesn't make liberal use of swearing, just adjusting the level of it for the audience. "I've fucked up the teas" has the same literal meaning as "Bloody hell, I've put too much milk in" or "I'm sorry ma'am, but the head footman appears to have upended the teapot", merely adjusted for either politeness or expediency. Fuck is a highly expedient word. Linus isn't polite (he's spent 20yrs herding cats and to be honest given the intractably varied milleu he inhabits I would consider politeness an actual hundrance) and is expedient and to be honest I think he uses much less profanity than I'd expect for a person in his position. Every time I've seen a /. headline about Linus going off on one, the ticking off he's given always seems to have been warranted for technical reasons, I've never seen him threaten someone. As far as most technical people go, I'd go so far as to cal him highly eloquent, and I don't see what's ineloquent about the occasional "fuck". He didn't even use that this time, he was merely telling people in his own sardonic way that they need to rattle sabres once in a while, and his response to Sarah's email was spot-on, deadpan, and attempting to defuse the situation:

    That's the spirit.

    Greg has taught you well. You have controlled your fear. Now, release
    your anger. Only your hatred can destroy me.

    Come to the dark side, Sarah. We have cookies.


    Storm in a bloody teacup.

    More directed to the OP, for what it's worth, I don't think there's anything inherently superior about british/english swearing, I just think it's sometimes seen as supe

  • by fredprado (2569351) on Monday July 15, 2013 @09:01PM (#44291827)
    There is nothing wrong with being polite when you judge it to be adequate. There is a lot wrong with being forced to be polite when you don't judge it adequate because someone feels offended.

    Language's main objective is to transmit information. When you stop using words and expressions because you think they are rude, or offensive, when you stop saying things because you think people will be hurt you are altering the meaning of what you want to transmit, because no two words mean exactly the same thing.

    Sometimes it is necessary to do so, but doing so as a principle cripples the language, and when you cripple the language you sooner or later cripple critical thinking that opposes the mainstream thinking.

    That is the whole technique used in 1984 by introducing the Newspeak. You should read this book, it will be enlightening I promise. You will see a lot of similarities between the the Politically Correct doctrine and the books's Nationalist doctrine that was indoctrinated into people.
  • Re:Victim Card (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fredprado (2569351) on Monday July 15, 2013 @09:10PM (#44291901)

    This is about someone new coming along and being surprised that the mailing list isn't even remotely like normal corporate politeness.

    But this is a woman, and although there are women that are cool and reasonable and men who are drama queens, this one is a stereotypical female drama queen in all her glory, and people like her are those that make the lives of other competent and cool women a lot harder.

  • by dugancent (2616577) on Monday July 15, 2013 @09:10PM (#44291903)

    Language matters as much as context. I have nothing again open source software, I have everything against Linus being a dick for no other reason than his ego.

    Connecting the two is bullshit.

  • by fnj (64210) on Monday July 15, 2013 @09:15PM (#44291943)

    Or you can give up being an offended prima donna and be glad there *IS* a linux kernel to work on; its existence is due to one man.

    I used to have a boss who would say "shut up" and "you're fired" in meetings and in regular work. I understood him. He was a great guy actually. Brilliant and not mean.

  • Re:Victim Card (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tftp (111690) on Monday July 15, 2013 @09:24PM (#44292013) Homepage

    And here comes the nut of the issue: how many time does Linus tell somebody that "made a stupid fucking mistake" and it resulted that in the end it was not a stupid fucking mistake?

    You do not correct other people's mistakes by publicly humiliating them. That's how you make enemies.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday July 15, 2013 @09:34PM (#44292091)

    I do think that we'd agree that professionalism is a good thing.

    Why? Linus has an excellent point, that often "professionalism" is an excuse to be abusive, just with a prettier veneer.

    I personally prefer generally to communicate "professionally", but I'm also not dealing with something as important as the Lunix kernel. The greater degree of importance something has in the world, the more blunt I feel everyone is allowed to be and in fact is of benefit.

    Also Linus comes from a culture that is more direct, and I don't see anything wrong with a project adopting the cultural attitudes of the leader.

  • by the_B0fh (208483) on Monday July 15, 2013 @09:44PM (#44292155) Homepage

    And how the fuck is the fact that Jobs is dead is relevant to the point at hand? So, since Ballmer is alive, throwing chairs is now good?

    I'm curious how your brain works. Or is it fun just to dig that knife in deeper?

  • by the_B0fh (208483) on Monday July 15, 2013 @09:48PM (#44292193) Homepage

    The fact that he is only abusive to stupid ideas, and very rarely, stupid people, is a good thing. Not suffering fools or stupidity is a good way to move the quality of the kernel forward.

  • Doing a fork of the Linux kernal would not be a trivial matter.

    Yes STARTING a fork would be trivial but actually DOING anything with it of note is much harder as to DO have to get developers on board and you have to at least keep pace with the mainline.

    To surpass it you not only have to keep within pace, or better (slightly) excel at the development you also have to SELL that fork for others to use.

    So no it is not a trivial matter to replace Linus.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Monday July 15, 2013 @09:59PM (#44292279)

    I have often seen this same "enforced politeness" tried on other mailing lists, and the result is always the same. The "wizards" soon migrate somewhere else

    Then wish them well and send them on their way.

    I find your implied association between smart people who get useful things done and rude people who can't act like adults unlikely. I know plenty of smart people, and the overwhelming majority of them would prefer to work with others in civilised fashion. Sure, when people are passionate about something then occasionally someone might cross the line, but then they apologise and everyone carries on.

    I know plenty of blustery people as well, and a lot of them bluster to cover the fact that they aren't nearly as smart or valuable as they would like everyone else to believe. As with any bad apple, the best management decision for the project as a whole is usually to fire such people at the earliest opportunity rather than let them contaminate things any further or dig in any deeper.

    Sometimes doing that will hurt in the short term, but no-one is irreplaceable. Once the bad ones are out of the way you can get on with bringing in other smart people to replace them. That can now include all the smart people you couldn't bring in before because they had no interest in working in a hostile environment and, being smart, they had plenty of other choices.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Monday July 15, 2013 @10:07PM (#44292331)

    If you're a n00b who posts something stupid on LKML, you are not going to get massive old-school-Usenet-style flames.

    I wonder how many n00bs never get that far, because they see how the leader of the community treats others and decide to go do something else instead. Maybe Linus does personally know the recipients of his infamous rants, but on a high-profile public forum not everyone watching might realise that.

    If you walked into an office for a job interview, and the first thing you saw was some management type openly berating a subordinate, what tone would that set before you even started the discussion you were there for? Some conversations are best held privately, as much for the benefit of the community as for the participants themselves.

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday July 15, 2013 @10:18PM (#44292407)

    It is important in a creative-technical environment. To be creative you need to be comfortable and many people will be very uncomfortable if they hear a lot of verbal abuse going on, or are worried knowing that any mistake will result in a tirade, or are just tired of the non stop use of "fucking" as the only adjective and adverb ever used. Sure, if it's rare occasions that you're down right rude then that's ok, but this sort of behavior is often regular and ongoing.

  • by exabrial (818005) on Monday July 15, 2013 @10:32PM (#44292479)
    Fucking fuck, grow a pair of balls. Despite what your mother's left tit convinced you of, the world isn't here to kiss your ass. If you are 'talented' as your egotisical writing claims, but you are unwilling to help those who hate you, you are worthless. YOU need to contribute something meaningful to the 7 billion people that outrank you, not the other way around. You are LAST. Just because you were born into privilege and opportunity to earn a college degree doesn't mean the starving kid in Africa deserves less. Stop thinking of your own butthole and contribute something and expect NOTHING in return. In the man time, enjoy a life of depression and anxiety while you rot away trying to make yourself happy through masturbatory comments about how 'good' you would have if been if you only could have maybe had of sort of maybe contributed to something way bigger than yourself.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 15, 2013 @10:56PM (#44292637)

    How is it that the only options in your mind are, "Ranting like a blue-veined cock at everybody who dares disagree or fail to heed every precious word you utter," or "roll over and be a completely passive submissive doormat"?

    There is a middle way, which allows you to be assertive and direct without ranting like an asshole.

  • Re:Victim Card (Score:5, Insightful)

    by faffod (905810) on Monday July 15, 2013 @11:05PM (#44292697)
    I know a few "cool women" who hate being the "cool" one, but fear retaliation from guys if they actually speak up. When you work in a "man's world" and you hear guys say things like " although there are women that are cool and reasonable and men who are drama queens, this one is a stereotypical female drama queen in all her glory, and people like her are those that make the lives of other competent and cool women a lot harder." what are you to do? They then shut up and suffer because they like the challenge of their job, just not the hostility of their coworkers. They suffer as the "cool woman" because they don't want to risk retaliation or ostracization.

    To me, she is a "cool woman" - she's willing to tell guys, Linus no less, to fuck off. Literally - read her email, she drops a few f-bombs herself, not what I consider stereotypical drama queen.
  • by tlambert (566799) on Monday July 15, 2013 @11:09PM (#44292723)

    Not being a dick != political correctness

    No... but you really can't expect normative social behavior from an aspie, particularly after he's been the effective king of a feudal society for about 22 years now. Lieutenants who are effectively feudal lords who have sworn fealty to the king, it's a classic mutual security game.

    The biggest problem this arrangement has is ... it works. It doesn't work as well as other mutual security arrangements, such as globocop, but it can be successful, particularly for volunteer organizations.

    One property of the arrangement, however, is that feudal lords build walls between their fiefdoms. This makes it very hard to change anything that requires crossing multiple fiefdom boundaries, so if you want to change an API, a globocop arrangement is more conducive to negotiating API contracts (think of it as agreeing on diverting the location of a stream crossing between neighbors). Linux demonstrates similar problems.

    Either way, unless there is someone elected to filter the comments (a majordomo), the king is going to say whatever the king wants to say.

  • by wierd_w (1375923) on Monday July 15, 2013 @11:16PM (#44292769)

    This is the problem with "political correctness":

    The act of trying to avoid being offensive, is, in and of itself, offensive to some people.

    To whit, Linus Torvalds finds it offensive. QED.

    This means that political correctness is fundementally faulted at its very conception, and can never be satisfied.

    In the instances of verbal slurs, the creation of "inoffensive surrogates", as often tendered by political correctness advocates, simply shift the problem and do NOTHING to fix it. Take for instance, calling somebody stupid, vs calling them "mentally challenged". They mean the same thing, and are equally offensive.

    Same with monikers for race; for instance, people with very dark skin of african origin:

    Negro->colored->black->"african american"

    The fact of the matter, is that using *any* term to draw attention to the skin color of a person, to distinguish a racially profiled stereotype, is equally offensive.

    To whit,

    "The prefferential treatment of african americans in the college entrance exams has led to a sharp decline in student achievement scores."

    The sentence is just as offensive if you use "colored", "black", or any other colorful descriptor.

    The same is true of descriptors for men who like to bang other men.

    "Effeminate"->'poofter'->queer->gay->"homosexual male"

    It isn't the words you say, it is the way you say them, that causes offense, but the PC crowd never gets this, and instead just comandeers word after word, after word, in its relentless and futile attempt to eradicate the intent behind those words. The result is that previously benign clinical terms like "homosexual" start to get lurid connotations, when previously they were absolved from those implications, because of words like "faggot". Deleting "faggot" from the dictionary does not make everyone stop harboring negative views about homosexual males. All it does is make a previousy useful word no longer useful, as all the malign implication of the slur gets transferred.

    I would much rather have people shout about "faggots", and expose just what kind of people they are by its use, than have perfectly useful terms like "homosexual" corrupted, because of a fundamentally faulted worldview gone wild.

    So, I side with Torvalds with this issue. Is his use of profanity reasonable? Probably not. Is his argument about why he needs to be allowed to use profanity when he feels necessary, perfectly rational and well founded? Absolutely.

    Profanity is intended to convey beligerance. Deleting profanity does not make people have to resort to civility, it makes them coopt civilized language for profane use. Profanity serves a valid role in human communication. Stop trying to delete it. You can't.

  • That's great and all, but civility costs nothing. Something that Linus doesn't understand. You know that saying, you get more with honey than you do with a stick alone.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 15, 2013 @11:57PM (#44293007)

    I am sorry but you are so very wrong.

    Linux is a meritocracy. This means you have more influence and say over things the more you contribute and know, this is based on real merits and contrary to a corporate world not a bogus title.

    LKML has a lot of traffic. It is most time effective to just call out a thing which is bad. This has to be done in an unambiguous way. Direct language is the best way, it has the highest signal to noise ratio.

    Furthermore due to meritocracy you do not need to suck up and kiss ass like you do in a corporate environment (where your underling might become your manager, who knows why, so hedge your bets by being very PC and polite).

    So if you post bad stuff, you get shot down. Everybody gets the same rules applied to them. Why should some random woman be treated differently? Everyone is treated equally, that's good, right?

    If she wants good treatment, shut the fuck up and write better code and submit it, instead of spending time whining about it. It's stupid to whine that someone hurt your feelings. Guess what? Nobody fucking cares. If your code sucks, you will NOT get praise. Live with it or change your profession.

    Also, the purpose of LKML is to assist in making good software, not to run some feel good club.

  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @12:01AM (#44293023)

    Hilariously, I smell envy that even poster himself likely doesn't realize to be his/her motivator in this one. Fact is, he managed to get himself into the position where he doesn't have to care about office politics, political correctness or any other similar things that most of us have to deal with, regardless of our actual desire to do so. Most of us can only dream of ever reaching such a point in our lives.

    And he has an excellent point - much of the office backstabbing does come from buildup of being unable to call someone who is an asshole or a bitch just that to the face to reduce the pressure. So instead you get typical office crap that every one of us who works in the office has likely had to put up with where people hold grudges unable to act on them until they can do something REALLY nasty. As in something that would actually impact life and work performance, instead of just calling someone a bad word and moving on.

    If I were ever given a choice, I'd sure rather go for nasty expletives. But I wasn't. Linux on the other hand gets a choice, and he made it.

  • by Chirs (87576) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @12:22AM (#44293129)

    Do you follow LKML (all 15K messages/month)? If you only pay attention to the messages that get covered on Slashdot then you're going to have a pretty warped view of how he communicates.

    The majority of the time Linus is direct but not abusive. On the rare occasions that he uses what could be called abusive language there is usually a recurring problem and more subtle means of communication have not been effective.

  • by quantaman (517394) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @12:38AM (#44293203)

    The fact it's working doesn't mean it can't be improved.

    The fact that you would even state such abject stupidity means you don't understand the simple, salient point that has long ago been made. You would do well to avail yourself of the reams of tired, boring, and utterly meaningless conversations in the past where I eventually explained the simple point so that a moron like you can stop wasting all our time in the here and now.

    If you want "maturity" as defined by some passive aggressive type of niceness that comes when you don't ever say what you are actually thinking, you are in the wrong place. We're here to get something done and you can take your sissy, pandering, liberal business-speak ethos and cram it into some corner that doesn't involve the rest of us who are trying to get something valuable done.

    You took 5 lines to insult me in various ways and make a couple points about why impolite speech is more effective.

    Frankly I think you would have been more clear if you just insulted my position. You said what you were thinking and you drifted off-topic, so what if I'm a moron, and why do you think I'm not trying to get something valuable done? Neither of those are relevant to the discussion.

    Yes I'm polite, but I also think I've very direct, and I don't think I'd be any more clear if I used profanity.

  • Re:linus is frank (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DMiax (915735) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @02:22AM (#44293625)

    [...] he would have been better served if he had just replied;

    "I'm rude, you're not, let's leave it at that."

    But he didn't.

    How do you read this part then?

    For example, you work mostly through Greg. I don't think either of you *planned* it that way, but it's likely because you guys work well together.

    See what I'm saying? People are different. I'm not polite, and I get upset easily but generally don't hold a grudge - I have these explosive emails. And that works well for some people. And it probably doesn't work well with you.

    And you know what? That's fine. Not everybody had to get along or work well with each other. But the fact that it doesn't work with you doesn't make it "wrong".

  • by Anarchduke (1551707) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @03:31AM (#44293953)
    On the other hand, many of the people "working" for linus are doing this on their own dime. Push them too far and they might say, "Fuck off, I have better things to do then get yelled at by a twat in a bathrobe."
  • Because omitting that part invokes the impression that by abusive language she means swearing, which deligitimizes her complaint as whining about political correctness.

    People don't need to be impolite or swear in order to be assholes to each other. (That's pretty much what Torvalds said, too, when he talked about office politics.)
    And people don't have to be assholes to each other in order to work in an informal atmosphere. (And that's what Sharp said.) What they're actually disagreeing on is whether the present atmosphere in the LKML is an abrasive but honest, or an abusive and toxic one, and where the line between that is. If people can debate about this reasonably without devolving into a mudslinging match about PC, censorship and (inevitably, sooner or later) sexism in IT again*, I'll be surprised.

  • by dywolf (2673597) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @07:02AM (#44295001)

    so merit makes abusive languange and threats and physical intimidation ok? ya, sure. try it in the real world, see how that works out for you.

    there is a big difference between "hey this is broke" and "hey you stupid b***h, you f***ing idiot, you broke this s***. i should come over to your house and break your fingers to keep you from screwing up my s*** even more".

    Linus is more and more becoming like a spoiled child, and no longer relevant. every time he opens his mouth to complain about the way his baby is evolving he just digs himself deeper.

  • by atriusofbricia (686672) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @07:50AM (#44295403) Journal

    Yours is not a fair statement. She’s been contributing to the Linux kernel for (as far as I can tell after a quick Google) 5 years or more. She’s not ‘attempting to join [the] community’; she’s already part of the community.

    And she’s attempting to change it from within. Nothing, ipso facto, wrong with that.

    30 Linux Kernel Developers in 30 Weeks: Sarah Sharp [] <<-- describes her involvement with kernel in 2007.

    Okay, in that case she's been a part of it for a while now and has (so far as I know) suddenly decided she doesn't like the way things are. That's fine. Asking for change and such is fine to a point. However, this is also closely related to the ridiculous idea that people have a right not to be offended or to hear things they don't like. No such right exists.

    If they are unwilling to change, and I unsurprisingly tend to agree with Linus's stance on the fakery involved in being "professional", then she can either deal with it or leave. The people on that list were the way they were long before she got there even if she has been involved with it for the last few years.

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