1. 10

    Until this was posted, I hadn’t realized how much I miss the satisfying “chunk!” of inserting 3.5" disks.

    1. 12

      I miss debugging programs by ear. I used to be able to recognize a bug had occurred when the sounds of accessing a floppy drive or hard drive were not what I expected. Between quieter components and multitasking that’s no longer the case.

      1. 6

        Heh. I’ve mostly replaced this with visual cues. I have a “system monitor” that is always visible on one of my monitors. Gives my CPU breakdown, memory usage and graphs for disk and network access. Very useful for staying “in tune” with the machine in front of you. I can tell a lot by just a quick glance when running a program:

        1. How many cores it’s using.
        2. Whether it’s getting bogged down in syscalls.
        3. Network usage.
        4. Whether it’s reading from disk.
        5. Is memory spiking?

        After a quick glance, I end up with a rough ballpark of where to go to debug further problems.

        (Some of my co-workers think I’m nuts for preferring to work locally instead of remotely, but there’s something to be said about actually using the hardware that’s sitting next to you!)

    1. 9

      A long time ago I recorded keypresses from my beloved Model M and submitted them for a web-based Model M simulator over at Geekhack/Deskthority. Since then those sound effects have gotten around quite a bit :)

      It’s cool to see them pop up in various projects over the years.

      1. 3

        So this thing is just playing back recorded sounds?

        1. 1

          Correct.

          1. 1

            Not quite simulated then.

        2. 2

          Thanks for the fantastic sounds, Sirocco. Let me know how I can better give you credit for them.

          1. 2

            Thank you, but that’s not really necessary. Or perhaps I could just use this post to say I consider them public domain?

        1. 2

          It’s not the noise we’re interested in, it’s the tactile feed-back. The noise is just a cool novelty at first, and something that you no longer pay attention to, after a while.

          1. 2

            I want to agree with you on this – mostly. The long-throw keys and tactile feedback are what I crave out of a keyboard, but the noise from the springs buckling is also incredibly pleasant, even if my brain tends to shuffle it to the background after a while. The sound is part of the whole experience.

          1. 0

            Why is this here? Was there something specific that Lobsters folk should be paying attention to?

            1. 2

              Could you elaborate? Are you objecting, or just curious?

              1. 3

                I’m just wondering why Wikipedia links are being posted to Lobsters? Yes, there’s a whole lot of interesting stuff on Wikipedia, but what’s the point of linking to (arbitrary) entries? What value does this bring to the Lobster community?

                So I’m objecting because I don’t see the point, but I also admit to have possibly missed the point, hence my query.

                1. 3

                  I don’t think Nagle’s Algorithm is terribly arbitrary. It’s a networking algorithm, it’s pretty interesting, and wikipedia has a good explanation of it. If someone had a blog post which had all of the same explanation of Nagle’s Algorithm, it probably wouldn’t be questioned. I think wikipedia shouldn’t be treated as special because it’s wikipedia–if the information is useful, or interesting, and tech-related, I think lobsters is a good place for it.

                  Wikipedia is not terribly timely, but I don’t think it’s important to only link to things which are timely. Lots of interesting information is still interesting a year later.

                  There is also a long history of posting wikipedia articles on lobsters, and they are often well received.

                  https://lobste.rs/s/igivzn/garden_path_sentence
                  https://lobste.rs/s/zcedw1/sexy_prime_-_wikipedia
                  https://lobste.rs/s/6cdghq/pgp_word_list

                  1. 1

                    I like that this was posted. There are still a lot of algos that haven’t crossed my path. In general, I’d rather see a page with a “for dummies” explanation of the algo, as Wikipedia entries tend to be rather dry and clinical. Then I can decide if I want to go all-in, if that makes any sense.

            1. 2

              Reminds me of when I had to build a mock 4-floor elevator in school, using old printer parts and a PLC, programmed using Ladder. Python would have been so much nicer…

              1. 2

                I hate programming in ladder, but it does make online debugging a breeze.

                1. 2

                  Yeah, that’s true, being able to just see what’s going on in all parts of the program at all times was rather useful.

              1. 3

                I think we have a lot of tags that are clearly relevant to lobsters when they are tech focused (like culture, person, potentially government) but don’t make sense as standalone tags. For example, under “person” we could have an obituary for David Bowie, but it would probably be off-topic for lobsters.

                Maybe a good compromise would be to make these tags like the video / pdf tags, where they don’t stand by themselves, but instead qualify for lobsters because of the other tags? That way, if someone wanted to post something under the “person” tag, they would have to make sure they could add another, more lobsters-y tag, like “unix”.

                1. 2

                  I’d really like to see an “announcement” or “news” tag, so I can just filter that shit straight off.

                  The posting of news articles and current events is one of the early signs of cancer in these sorts of communities.

                  EDIT: The reason being, the article’s importance is predicated on its newness, not any particular value in the information itself. Such articles asymptotically crowd out genuinely useful information, because people tend to then think that novelty is more important than informativeness–and especially with current trends in ad-driven news, this in turn leads to above-tolerable amounts of what amounts to product placement. Eeeeych.

                  1. 2

                    I’d really like to see an “announcement” or “news” tag, so I can just filter that shit straight off.

                    announce is for site announcements and is restricted to moderators. news existed since the beginning but was disabled for reasons similar to what you stated.

                  2. 2

                    I found it reassuring that I didn’t see a Bowie story here yesterday. There’s so much cross-posted chaff on the net it kinda drives me nuts from time to time. I must say I do like your suggestion.

                    1. 1

                      I like that, so it’s more of a source or an aspect of the article than a tag

                    1. 12

                      They’ve acclimatized people to the idea/technology, and now they’re closing the door on the long tail of refusers. As a person who flies several times/year and has never been through a scanner, I have only once stood in line with a fellow opt-outer, and not recently. Widespread opposition to scanning has just not materialized, so it’s going to become a part of the routine.

                      1. 14

                        Yeah, it’s as you say. That has always been the clear intent with these “security” measures - get people used to them gradually.

                        This particular step wouldn’t be news really, but … as a trans person, this one is particularly distressing. Figuring out why is left as an exercise to the reader.

                        1. 2

                          Actually I’m quite confused why this is trouble for trans. When you opt out, they have to pick a man or woman to do the patdown. When you go through the scanner, they don’t ask about gender. The scanner in my experience is much closer to anonymous and impersonal.

                          1. 1

                            Excuse me, but what is a trans person?

                            1. 3
                              1. 1

                                Someone who identifies as belonging to a gender different from their biological sex or just has a plainly ambiguous biological sex (this is actually far more common than people realise) and had to pick one of the two options.

                            2. 1

                              I joined the TSA-Pre program and have no issues whatsoever. Sure I have to pay an extra fee every year, but it beats going through the lines and being thoroughly inspected for no reason.

                              1. 10

                                I have TSA-Pre as well (via Global Entry), but I’ll be damned if “having more disposable income” resolves to “having more civil liberties.”

                                1. 7

                                  I find the existence of TSA Pre terrible, in the same way as these body scanner changes: it slowly becomes normal for society to give up more information and money to the government to achieve a short term goal of “shorter lines”.

                                  I’ll happily wait in longer line.

                                  1. 4

                                    But that’s basically what it is, right? It’s a real shame that it’s come to this. My older folks tell me of the days when you could walk into the airport without having a single person check your luggage. Times sure have changed.

                                    1. 2

                                      Growing up, and even while I was in college, one could enter an airport and go anywhere they wanted (more or less). The worst you would be subjected to was a brief pass through a metal detector.

                                      I love flying, but absolutely loathe airports now.

                                    2. 1

                                      It appears that the fee is only 85 USD, which is good for 5 years, e.g., comes to about 1.42 USD per month, which seems like rather small change, even if all your air travel is free otherwise. They even accept anything from credit cards to money orders.

                                      However, what doesn’t make that much sense is that basically almost everyone’s eligible! The list of Interim Disqualifying Criminal Offences is quite amusing, to say the least. It sounds like they might as well do “random” security checks on the spot to start with, instead of making everyone go through the lines in the first place, and accomplish just about the same (or even a better one!) level of security.

                                1. 4

                                  Ars Technica seems solid, among the mainstream news sites.

                                  1. 2

                                    They used to be one of the best, before being acquired by Conde Nast.

                                    Sadly, they wallow in a lot of clickbait these days.

                                  1. 5

                                    In recent years I’ve become a big fan of the various “[x] in one file” projects, especially for C. I think SQLite was the first time I had come across something like that, and it really made things dirt-simple.

                                    1. 12

                                      I use Git, but fully admit I probably have no clue how to actually use Git.

                                      Funny, that.

                                      1. 2

                                        Git-it Guide was probably the best plain, clear English tutorial I used to learn git, as well as some aspects of GitHub.

                                        1. 2

                                          But it’s not inside out or bottom up, the only approved ways of learning git.

                                          1. 1

                                            This is quite similar to how I’ve taken to teaching Git to people. Start with a very practical introduction that provides real-world justifications for each of the major features (staging, commits, remote repositories, branches, forks/clones, merging).

                                            Of course, you then follow that up with an explanation of how git works internally (what HEAD is, really, what the reflog is, and so on). Then some challenges after that, to make sure they understand things like the difference between merging and rebasing, how the Git garbage collector works, etc.

                                            1. 2

                                              I have seen very few people who actually understand what HEAD is. Almost universally people think it means “newest” or “latest” instead of simply meaning the currently checked-out commit. You are always at HEAD, because by definition HEAD is wherever you are.

                                              Worse, people often talk about the remote HEAD, whereas most remotes are bare repos with no HEAD at all. Example: homebrew has a --head option to pick up the latest master branch of a repo.

                                              This confusion stems from a bad name. Git was aping CVSish langauge here, I think, but used the “head” concept to refer to something almost completely different.

                                        1. 3

                                          FWIW, I really hope we can avoid changing titles in all but THE most egregious cases. I really don’t think it’s something that should be happening very often.

                                          1. 5

                                            It appears to be a fairly rare occurrence. And usually it’s just people submitting existing page titles without taking note of the basic rules.

                                            Also, I’d like to say I love your username.

                                            1. 2

                                              Also, I’d like to say I love your username.

                                              Wish I could say it was original, but it’s just down to me being a huge Queensryche fan since about 1991 or so. Operation:Mindcrime blew my mind then and still does…

                                              1. 1

                                                We’re in the same boat. I was listening to that album last week on a whim. It still kicks so much ass.

                                            2. 4

                                              Maybe one submission in ten or twenrty I tone down a clickbaity title, usually just by changing two or three words. So far none of these have been edited after posting. I started the practice after a number of original titles got compaints and I agreed.

                                              1. 2

                                                Sounds good. I’d just hope it never becomes rampant as it is on HN… and especially in regards to the way they often change a good title to a worse title due to their slavish devotion to the “use the original title” principle. Saying “don’t editorialize” sounds good on paper, but some titles need changing.

                                                1. 1

                                                  I think the way to avoid this, and other results, is to not pick policies solely for being easy to apply, without using judgement. Right now we have good people who are interested and willing to put in some effort towards getting along. Formalizing a lesser standard than that gives people a disincentive to do more. So we won’t. :)

                                            1. 3

                                              Do programmers really not care about time complexity anymore? Obviously there are lots of instances where it doesn’t matter, but it still seems like a useful concept to understand.

                                              1. 5

                                                That’s usually the point where I see the become-a-developer-in-two-weeks folks fall down. And why I worry very little about becoming unemployable. :)

                                                1. 1

                                                  I think it depends greatly on your domain.

                                                  In process engineering, for example, we no longer have to care about it. The embedded processors we have now are so powerful they can take even the most poorly coded set of calculations and whip through them without lagging, whereas back in the 80s and 90s this was a very real concern. And the overall complexity of our applications is decreasing due to “smart” instrumentation that handles a lot of the annoying calculations for us.

                                                  I have no idea what sort of emphasis this gets in modern CS courses, as I’ve been out of college for several decades now.

                                                  As I’ve mentioned before, my last (hobby) project was on a 6502 processor, so time was not just on my mind, but to partially quote a Star Trek movie “the fire in which I burned.”

                                                1. 7

                                                  Last Week we took a C-64 demo to Assembly and brought home 1st place in our compo.

                                                  This week we’re still suffering from jet lag, shock, and the general malaise that follows working so hard on something for so long, then finally realizing you have no idea what you’ll do next. I’m working on a write-up of the experience, and my code partner is working on some improvements to the lib we’ve written for Kickassembler to make our lives easier. And documentation, of course.

                                                  I think we’re both secretly dreaming up our next demo, but haven’t been inclined to mention it to each other yet, because goddamn we’re tired.

                                                  1. 1

                                                    Cool!

                                                  1. 3

                                                    I love this post. I started out with a CGA card and wasn’t even aware there were multiple versions. The clever usage of color to allow the user to select between RGB and composite was also a beautiful thing.

                                                    I got back from Assembly a few days ago so these subjects are all fresh in my mind. I got to see plenty of old hardware in action, and meet a great deal of friendly and enthusiastic people from around the world.

                                                    1. 2

                                                      This is the same airport where, approximately two years ago, no one could figure out how to turn any of the lights off.

                                                      Relevant link

                                                      1. 1

                                                        The main reason my friends and I picked up C was to tinker with the WWIV source code. That whole era only lasted a few years for us, but it was quite an experience.

                                                        1. 3

                                                          We just finished a C64 demo for Assembly. As in, yesterday afternoon.

                                                          1. 3

                                                            mouseover?

                                                            1. 2

                                                              Just adding I’ve seen this on a few message boards, and I love it. The mouseover provides the first paragraph (up to [x] characters), which is usually enough to figure out if you want to venture further in.

                                                            1. 10

                                                              Direct link to the code: https://www.freebsd.org/internal/code-of-conduct.html

                                                              ok, so I generally think having a code of conduct is bullshit (oops, sorry, language). You’ve already lost if this is something you need. Attempting to enumerate the badness leads to absurdity, and this crosses the line.

                                                              I’m on the fringe of the FreeBSD community, but it’s clear now that I can’t join. Sooner or later somebody is going to harass somebody else, and I’m going to ignore it, but then that makes me guilty of “condoning” harassment.

                                                              1. 21

                                                                Oh, one more thing I forgot:

                                                                Attempting to enumerate the badness leads to absurdity,

                                                                You have two options here: try to enumerate behaviors, or leave it up to interpretation. The first falls under the kind of criticism you’re offering here, and the second leads to an argument about how the rules aren’t written down, and therefore, can’t be applied fairly.

                                                                1. 2

                                                                  an argument about how the rules aren’t written down, and therefore, can’t be applied fairly.

                                                                  For a company, yeah, this matters. Otherwise, “you’re out because we say you’re out” seems to get the job done pretty well.

                                                                  1. 11

                                                                    Oh, it’s not about the effectiveness, I’ve just seen countless concern trolls play the “but how will I know if I’ve crossed a line unless it’s explicitly spelled out because social norms are totally arbitrary and I just say it like it is” in response to a community attempting to enact a code of conduct before.

                                                                    (I personally am in favor of enumerating broad categories of behavior and leaving it at that.)

                                                                    1. 2

                                                                      Open-source projects often don’t have the strong leadership that would make that happen. E.g. Tony Morris is still upsetting people on #scala (or was when I gave up on it a few weeks ago) where any decent organization or leader would long since have kicked him out, and I think the bungled, unclear code of conduct had a lot to do with that.

                                                                  2. 15

                                                                    I don’t think, for example, that Python has “lost” by having a code of conduct. Pycon has 1/3 female attendance and speakers, in large part due to its code of conduct and many other outreach programmes. What other tech conference has lineups for the women’s bathroom?

                                                                    Being more inclusive is good for everyone, both the people doing the including and the ones being included. You can’t achieve this without actively doing outreach. Just sitting there and waiting for it to happen doesn’t make it happen.

                                                                    1. 5

                                                                      Was it Pycon that had a very public incident that started with one person complaining about a sexist joke (and very explicitly claiming the code-of-conduct supported their complaint) and ended with multiple people losing their jobs? It’s conceivable that in the absence of a code that incident would have been less confrontational and ended less badly.

                                                                      Inclusiveness does benefit everyone, but nothing is completely free. I think codes like this are on balance a good thing (and this is one of the better-written examples IMO: it’s relatively explicit and objective), but let’s not oversell them. Any such thing imposes overhead (especially for people who already have trouble expressing themselves, or who are anxious about participating in a community), and runs the risk of becoming a weapon for the popular or politically astute to attack the weak with.

                                                                      I do support this code. But caution is warranted.

                                                                      1. 13

                                                                        with multiple people losing their jobs?

                                                                        It ended with one of the offenders losing their job and finding a new one within a week or two, and the reporter losing their job by having their employer be DDOSed, then not being able to find a new job for over a year due to the stigma, almost putting them on the street. And getting graphic death threats almost continually, still to this day.

                                                                        1. 5

                                                                          Ummm, given that Adria was the attacker, I don’t see that as being particularly unreasonable (other than the death threat part). We’re never going to grow as a society if we don’t hold men and women to the same standards.

                                                                          Additionally, it looks like Adria spent the better part of that year justifying to herself that her actions were right:

                                                                          “Somebody getting fired is pretty bad,” I said. “I know you didn’t call for him to be fired, but you must have felt pretty bad.”

                                                                          “Not too bad,” she said. She thought more and shook her head decisively. “He’s a white male. I’m a black Jewish female.

                                                                          http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/21/internet-shaming-lindsey-stone-jon-ronson

                                                                          1. 6

                                                                            given that Adria was the attacker,

                                                                            I don’t agree with this characterization. She reported an event that happened, after that, it was up to the conference to decide what to do here. She didn’t even inaccurately report it, the actual circumstances were never in question.

                                                                            1. 8

                                                                              She reported an event that happened

                                                                              It was a while ago, so my memory may not be the clearest, but as I recall she took a picture of the guy (initially people thought some other guy in the picture was the culprit!), and tweeted it to the whole world along with commentary. The pycon conference staff actually contacted her via twitter after seeing the posting. Seemed like an odd way to report something overheard at a conference to staff.

                                                                              Making a dongle/dick joke at a conference is very inappropriate. No disagreement there. The “let’s make an example out of this guy” response seemed rather outsized.

                                                                              In addition, maybe instead of just firing him, his employer could have sent the guy to some type of sensitivity training so he actually learned something other than the likelihood that he just picked up some new prejudice like “it is not safe to have women in your team – you might get fired” or “don’t ever go to conferences”. I consider companies generally pretty heartless though, so it wasn’t surprising that he was simply fired – arguably the fastest way to distance themselves from the issue entirely.

                                                                              1. 9

                                                                                The exact text of the tweet:

                                                                                Not cool. Jokes about forking repo’s in a sexual way and “big” dongles. Right behind me #pycon

                                                                                Yes, one could argue that she could have reported it in private instead of in public, but especially tagging it with #pycon, to me, is reporting. The entirety of the ‘commentary’ is “Not cool.”

                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                  Thanks for finding the tweet text!

                                                                              2. 8

                                                                                Seriously, “the attacker”? And earlier “a very public incident that started with one person complaining about a sexist joke”? The complaint about the issue is undoubtedly the problem. Nah, it started with the snickering innuendo. Too often this site feels like browsing HN Jr.

                                                                          2. 5

                                                                            Yeah, donglegate. Not sure I would say that this would have never happened if there wasn’t a code of conduct. In fact, it may not have happened in a vacuous way: without a code conduct, there would not have been 20% female participation which would have made it much less likely for any women to overhear. Without any women, there are no women who will voice complaints. :-)

                                                                            I really don’t think there is an overt benefit to not having a code of conduct. The only one I can see is if you want to keep your community insular and unwelcoming. Like everything else in human society, as long as there’s more than a few of us, we need rules to guide us.

                                                                        2. 16

                                                                          You’ve already lost if this is something you need.

                                                                          This is why Rust is a moribund language tended to by a community of lifeless, gray dullards devoid of insight or imagination, plodding along the same worn paths trodden by the endless parade of sightless generations before them. All this misery could have been avoided had they but known the risk their code of conduct posed to their ability to say fuckwords in public lo those many years ago.

                                                                          1. 13

                                                                            Python, too, succumbed to this same problem and lo their language was lost to the howling winds of time. We can also expect Go to burst into flames or something RSN.

                                                                            waves hands and makes ghost noises

                                                                            1. 6

                                                                              I done been snarked!

                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                I code in C. I’m expected to curse… profusely, at that.

                                                                              2. 21

                                                                                (oops, sorry, language)

                                                                                Most codes of conduct don’t include curse words, as being puritans is not the aim of a code of conduct.

                                                                                You’ve already lost if this is something you need.

                                                                                Codes of conduct are largely written plans to set expectations and make the process clear for when something doesn’t go according to plan. “you’ve already lost” is beside the point.

                                                                                Any reasonable ops team has a plan for what to do in the case of system failure. Codes of conduct are no different.

                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                  Most codes of conduct don’t include curse words, as being puritans is not the aim of a code of conduct.

                                                                                  The problem with this is that, as written, the code of conduct kinda does:

                                                                                  • Avoid foul or abusive language: remember that cultural standards differ, and that what may seem to you to be a very mild statement can be deeply shocking to another.

                                                                                  The core issue is that, I think, as developers and engineers we tend to read things rather literally, and any code of conduct read in such a way seems rather harsh and draconian.

                                                                                  And the natural response is “Well, that’s what it says, sure, but that’s just level-setting and a general zeitgeist…we’re not going to go after you for cursing/whatever”, and that basically illustrates to the person raising the concern the arbitrariness built into the enforcement of these things.

                                                                                  It’s not that they’re bad (hell, they’re arguably better than nothing)–it’s just totally unsurprising that many don’t sing their praises.

                                                                                  1. 9

                                                                                    Yeah, it’s true that this one does. I was responding more generally. Rust’s actually does too, with an explicit caveat:

                                                                                    (Cursing is allowed, but never targeting another user, and never in a hateful manner.)

                                                                                    And

                                                                                    that basically illustrates to the person raising the concern the arbitrariness built into the enforcement of these things

                                                                                    Software developers do tend to see many social boundaries as ‘arbitrary’, but that doesn’t mean they actually are.

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      What are some examples of non-arbitrary social boundaries?

                                                                                      1. 6

                                                                                        Basically all of them. Social boundaries come out of some kind of need for a community, you can call them ‘arbitrary’ in response to some sort of platonic ideal, what-if-society-was-totally-different, but that’s more thought experiment and not something that’s actually useful when interfacing with other humans or understanding the real world.

                                                                                        That doesn’t mean they’re immutable, or are all good boundaries, but with that definition of arbitrary, basically everything is arbitrary.

                                                                                2. 11

                                                                                  I really shouldn’t fan the flames (these are always incendiary topics) but you can’t make everyone happy. All of the words used there (harassment, hate speech etc) are relative, regardless of what people believe.

                                                                                  To give an example, suppose a person comes on and during the course of a conversation expresses the view that homosexuality is an aberration and is illegal. The person is banned. The person then in turn claims harassment + discrimination because in their nation/culture/religion this is the commonly held view.

                                                                                  Now, I’ll shut up, because I came here to learn about computation.

                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                    In “almost all” cases, general good will, cultural norms, and good manners covers relations between people in a group.

                                                                                    Obviously, there are special cases where arbitration is needed and this is the purpose of a code of conduct - to formalize what happens when normal (polite) interactions break down.

                                                                                    Often, the formation of a code of conduct is challenging because it gives rise to unspoken and unaired differences between members of the group. For example: what if one leading member supports an aggressive, hardball management style that involves profanity, public call-outs, and insults, while another leading member supports a gentle management style that focuses on one-on-one interactions and words of encouragement? (In the first case, I’m thinking of some of the famous public arguments about the Linux kernel.) Making one or the other style “formal” in a code of conduct means that one leader “wins” the debate over group culture, while the other one “loses”.

                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                      So, most of that scans pretty decently–a little “no fun allowed” in terms of speech, sure, but if we can’t not sweat and curse and whatnot during a project, we lack creativity in expressing our displeasure.

                                                                                      The only part I disagree with:

                                                                                      • Discrimination based on gender, race, nationality, sexuality, religion, age or physical disability.
                                                                                      • Bullying or systematic harrassment.
                                                                                      • Incitement to or condoning of any of these.

                                                                                      …which is totally, reasonable on the face off it, especially the latter two. However, that links with:

                                                                                      “We will not tolerate any member of the community, either publically or privately giving aid or encouragement to any third party to behave in such a way towards any members of the FreeBSD community.”

                                                                                      If it’s truly a meritocracy, it shouldn’t matter if a contributor is a bigoted shithead on their own time. This linkage, for example, is technically what would’ve been used to censure, say, Eich.

                                                                                      1. 15

                                                                                        If it’s truly a meritocracy, it shouldn’t matter if a contributor is a bigoted shithead on their own time.

                                                                                        Only if you don’t include ‘works well with others’ as merit. I know I personally do.

                                                                                        One might say this brings up the ‘arbitrariness’ of the concept of meritocracy in the first place…

                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                          “works well with others” is an interesting wagon to hitch to.

                                                                                          It opens the unfortunate can of worms of whether or not minority members who constantly fight the status quo and make noise are “working well with others”. Especially when they, say, derail Github issues with agendas orthogonal to code problems.

                                                                                          I’m not sure that bandying about fitting in is what we want to do here.

                                                                                          1. 9

                                                                                            You seem to be conflating “works well with others” for “has a boundless appetite for bullshit”. Can we add that to the list of things we don’t want to do here?

                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                              You may think of it as derailing (and it’s not an entirely false or unreasonable opinion), but for every communication channel there should be a place to discuss issues with communication, and in cases of social issues it often makes sense to use the very same channel for that (just because all the participants are already present). E.g., if some aspect of your team’s weekly meetings renders these meetings ineffetive or intolerable, by all means bring it up during one of these meetings.

                                                                                              1. -2

                                                                                                To put it explicitly (and odiously, mind you):

                                                                                                If the argument is “works well with others is something of merit”, then any minority who fails to shut up and fall in line with the others is, by definition, not worthy of merit. This means putting up with homophobic remarks, because that’s what the majority of the workplace does. This means putting up with sexism, because that’s what the majority of the workplace does. This means not commenting/arguing/fighting-back against all of the microaggressions, because doing so puts you at odds with all the others.

                                                                                                That is the full ramification of “gets along well with others”.

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                                                                                                  Likewise, every majority (is this the right word?) that issues racist/homophobic/misogynistic remarks is, by definition, not worthy of merit, because such remarks alienate current and potential employees and clients. Not only minorities, mind you — I feel uneasy interacting with chauvinists no matter where their hate is directed. And we haven’t mentioned wide-scale long-term effects of such attitudes being popular.

                                                                                                  I really fail to imagine what kind of merit would override the fault of being a complete asshole.

                                                                                                  This means putting up with homophobic remarks, because that’s what the majority of the workplace does. This means putting up with sexism, because that’s what the majority of the workplace does.

                                                                                                  I’m sorry you had such a bad workplace experience. I hope it’s not typical where you live; where I live it’s surely unusual.

                                                                                                  This means not commenting/arguing/fighting-back against all of the microaggressions, because doing so puts you at odds with all the others.

                                                                                                  Oh, I’m not saying one should complain about every little annoyance, but there’s a not-so-fine line between calling your colleague an idiot once in anger, and doing it constantly due to lack of respect towards (a subset of) others.

                                                                                                  Look… I find that people who like to use words such as “rationality” and “meritocracy” tend to ignore human feelings, which makes them less rational and meritocratic than they think they are, because feelings exist and have consequences in the real world. Working with sexists and homophobes is not nice. Even working in white-male-only environment is not as nice as in mixed one, I find. Not being able to hire minorities (and people like me, who don’t hate minorities but do hate nazis) matters, because you lose a percentage of potential employees, and perhaps clients as well. Do you really think banning sexism and racism would do more harm than alienating the aforementioned minorities?

                                                                                          2. 10

                                                                                            If it’s truly a meritocracy

                                                                                            Being a meritocracy is not in itself a good thing. I know how we nerds want to pretend that we humans are all beings of pure intellect and all that matters is your code. While well-intentioned, this attitude can end up causing harm by deliberately ignoring all of the extenuating non-intellectual factors that people have to contend with (try to read that link, despite its length).

                                                                                            Sure, we’re all beings of pure intellect, but some of us are female, which is a very rare trait in this tribe but common elsewhere, so this tribe ends up treating us differently or we perceive ourselves as being different from this tribe, despite its claims of equality.

                                                                                            The meritocracy attitude is a bit like “separate but equal” was in the southern USA of the 1950’s. While apparently well-intentioned and seeking to give everyone equal treatment, it attempts to silence a lot of other important cultural factors, which results in non-equality.

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                                                                                              Meritocracy is like a platonic ideal - it’s a point that most people want to get to; however, since people have different starting points, it’s impossible to realize in reality. The “merit” being measured is on one axis or a small number of axes, which generally need to be the ones that are most aligned with successful outcomes in projects.

                                                                                              The bigger picture of meritocracy, society-wide, is a fundamentally different question, and one that most open-source projects (and most for-profit companies, for that matter) are generally unequipped to handle. Most projects just want skilled and dedicated contributors (i.e. contributors with particular “merits”) and beggars can’t be choosers.

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                                                                                                By the way, did you know that the word was coined in the 1950’s in a satirical essay where a meritocratic society was a dystopia? :-)

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                                                                                                  I think I heard that somewhere. Funny that it was considered something bad back then.

                                                                                                  The sense I get from the usage of the word nowadays, is that it’s broadly considered a good thing among idealistic engineers and technical people: of course we should judge people only on their merit (e.g. the performance of their code), not on political considerations, or nepotism, or who went to school with whom.

                                                                                                  Of course, since it’s people we’re talking about, things rarely get implemented as purely as the idealistic engineer believes or hopes.

                                                                                          3. 2

                                                                                            Sooner or later somebody is going to harass somebody else, and I’m going to ignore it, but then that makes me guilty of “condoning” harassment.

                                                                                            this is pure slippery-slope-fallacy. do you seriously think that someone is going to come after you for simply passively ignoring something?

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                                                                                              I think it should be possible for me to comply with not just the spirit, but also the letter, of a well written code of conduct. I’m not comfortable with the idea that the written rule says something is prohibited, but then there’s an unwritten rule that says minor infractions will probably go unnoticed.

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                                                                                                why, though? given that a code of conduct is run by people, rather than by computers, do you honestly feel that being subscribed to a mailing list in which someone is being harassed, and doing nothing either way, is going to be interpreted as against the letter of the code? it’s fine to apply a common-sense approach to these things, rather than going the heavyhanded legal-jargon, dot-every-i route.

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                                                                                                  Surely that’s the whole point of the code. If we’re just relying on people to follow sensible judgement, why have a written code at all?

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                                                                                                    there are two different things here:

                                                                                                    1. the specifics of the code of conduct. sure, it usually boils down to “don’t be a dick”, but what is considered dickish behaviour varies from community to community, and a good set of guidelines can help establish a culture by indicating what is and isn’t considered acceptable

                                                                                                    2. the interpretation of the written form of the code. this is where some people really want to quibble about words and phrasing and how they can be interpreted and how close you can skate to the line without crossing it. but really, it comes down to common sense; a CoC is not a game that you’re trying to play, where it’s crucially important to drag out the rulebook and argue each point and whether the exact language supports you or the other person. most of these things are pretty easy to apply a reasonable interpretation to, and the people trying to game it are usually the people you don’t want around anyway, because they don’t really care about not being dicks.

                                                                                                    to take the example tedu cited, he focused on the word “condoning”, and wondered whether simply sitting silently on a mailing list where harassment was taking place would technically be condoning said harassment, and whether he’d be expelled from the community for doing so. but a more reasonable interpretation would be that it applies to people managing spaces or events, and who would be expected to make sure their spaces are harassment free by taking note of and stopping it when it starts. if you simply assume that the CoC writers are trying to foster a good community rather than playing legal games, it’s pretty easy to follow it.

                                                                                            2. 2

                                                                                              I think ethics are really important. Codes of Conduct are one way of expressing your ethics.

                                                                                              Attempting to enumerate the badness leads to absurdity

                                                                                              Which is currently demonstrated by the British Governments approach to Encryption - “it is allowing the baddies to communicate securely” - this badness must be banned!

                                                                                              Condoning behaviour by ignoring it is not necessarily true - ask any parent who has had to negotiate with a two year old, sometimes ignoring a behaviour is the correct approach - but not when you are an officer in a military prison and your soldiers are abusing your prisoners.

                                                                                              Ethics are never black or white, but they might be right or wrong :~)

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                                                                                                Sooner or later somebody is going to harass somebody else, and I’m going to ignore it, but then that makes me guilty of “condoning” harassment.

                                                                                                This is interestingly put. Why the quotes? Isn’t that exactly what condoning means?

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                                                                                                  Quoted to point out its taken directly from the code.

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                                                                                                Site-wide hell-banning.

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                                                                                                  actually shadow banning

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                                                                                                    Pretty sure those are synonyms.

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                                                                                                      Not really. Hell banning means they can do stuff, but the site will randomly gives them errors and massive slowdowns to the point where it is unusable. Shadow banning means it seems like they aren’t banned, and they can see things they post, but it is invisible to other users.