back to article Open-source leaders' reputations as jerks is undeserved

You might be excused if you think most Linux and open-source leaders are, ah, rude. If you follow open-source at all, you know the stories about Linux's founder, Linus Torvalds, giving Nvidia the finger for its lack of Linux support and his stomping all over developers on the Linux Kernel Mailing List when they blunder. And …

  1. cyberdemon Silver badge
    Linux

    Giving nvidia the finger

    Giving nvidia the finger has obviously worked well as a strategy! They have just relented on their stubborn closed-source BLOB antics. That probably wouldn't have happened without Linus' ranting and raving.

    https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=nvidia-open-kernel&num=1

    (although, they haven't released it yet. I'm sure when they do, Mr Torvalds will find something inside to rant about)

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Giving nvidia the finger

      As always, there's a catch:

      Their user-space software is remaining closed-source but as of today they have formally opened up their Linux GPU kernel modules and will be maintaining it moving forward.

      NVIDIA's user-space libraries and OpenGL / Vulkan / OpenCL / CUDA drivers remain closed-source -- today's announcement is just about all the excitement in kernel space.

      All GPU kernel modules do is little more than operate as a pipe between the userland driver and the GPU itself. It's the right way to do it but there's no real improvements that can be made by open-source contributors. And it probably took nvidia's developers a decade of screaming to corporate that there's no secret sauce in it because of course the first thing they think of is their special proprietary advantage over the competition (which is bollocks, it's just code).

      But I guess Linus will be happy because he doesn't do userland.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Giving nvidia the finger

        That might be the case now, but back in the ATI days the problems that ATI had with their drivers were rather well known, and Nvidia probably didn't want to offer their only real competitor a graduate class in how to write better graphics driver code.

        I think it's generally agreed that AMD has fixed the substantive majority of those problems now, so there is probably less in the way of reason for Nvidia to keep that code closed source.

      2. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: Giving nvidia the finger

        -> As always, there's a catch:

        So what. Nvidia does not owe Linux a thing.

        1. Adrian 4

          Re: Giving nvidia the finger

          No, but their owe their customers their business.

          And their customers don't owe Microsoft a thing, so why shouldn't they use Linux ?

          1. VoiceOfTruth

            Re: Giving nvidia the finger

            Nvidia has plenty of customers which don't whine and moan about the lack of open source drivers. The 1% Linux desktop users shout a lot but they don't account for much.

            1. georgezilla

              Re: Giving nvidia the finger

              Well that would be fine.

              Except that Linux does more then just "desktops".

              Like EVERYTHING else.

              And EVERYTHING else COULD use Nvidia, if the drivers were open.

              But then when desktop users ( gamers ) are a "one trick pony", what can a person say.

              So how's your pony doing?

              1. VoiceOfTruth

                Re: Giving nvidia the finger

                -> Like EVERYTHING else.

                A high end graphics chip is of no use at all in email and web servers. So while I could put one there, what would be the point?

                -> And EVERYTHING else COULD use Nvidia, if the drivers were open.

                Let's see. For comparison, figures from Wikipedia so with a grain or two of salt: RedHat total assets $5.588 billion (2018), Nvidia total assets $44.18 billion (2022). Both companies have about 20,000 employees.

                Yeah, open source is the way to go. Not. Said the people at Nvidia.

                1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: Giving nvidia the finger

                  "A high end graphics chip is of no use at all in email and web servers."

                  OTOH they are just what's needed for number crunching.

                  "Yeah, open source is the way to go. Not. Said the people at Nvidia."

                  Didn't you read the article. Nvidia disagrees with you.

                  And yes said the people at IBM. Not that that is necessarily a desirable fate for Red Hat's employees.

            2. karlkarl Silver badge

              Re: Giving nvidia the finger

              1% is a massive revenue.

              I think Linux also represents 100% of their HPC customers which is where NVidia gets much of their money.

              NVidia also relies on Linux heavily internally. They owe Linux a lot.

              1. VoiceOfTruth

                Re: Giving nvidia the finger

                -> 1% is a massive revenue.

                Let me give you the names of a few accountancy schools. We're going to concentrate on the 1%, said no accountant ever.

                -> They owe Linux a lot.

                They owe their paying Windows customers more as they buy far more hardware.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Giving nvidia the finger

                  The reason why gamers can't buy high end graphics cards for love nor money is that people who think they are are giant calculators are buying everything. As others have pointed out above all the HPC shops pretty much run Linux.

                  These days GPUs aren't just for graphics cards, people buy servers stuffed full of them without an HDMI socket in sight.

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Giving nvidia the finger

          Noticed how manufacturers always go with AMD GPUs in consoles? You have to go back to the PS3 for the last time there was a console that want with a descrete nvidia GPU, and before that it was the original XBox, and that's it. Once bitten, twice shy - manufacturers don't want to be messing around with nvidia's proprietary blobs.

          1. VoiceOfTruth

            Re: Giving nvidia the finger

            Seeing it as you want to see it. Do those same manufacturers release the specs of their hardware? If the answer is no, why are you shouting for them?

            1. georgezilla

              Re: Giving nvidia the finger

              Well ................

              They were trying to make a point.

              One that apparently went over your head.

              ( That was the whooshing sound that you heard. Or did you miss that too? )

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Giving nvidia the finger

                "One that apparently went over your head."

                Not difficult, it seems.

              2. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: Giving nvidia the finger

                While they're often wrong about stuff like this, in this case, the point being made against them wasn't proven at all. The allegation is that Nvidia GPUs are not used in consoles because there's some problem with source access, but nobody's proven anything like that. All we know is that AMD's been used, not why. The companies that make these things don't give out source themselves and probably could get proprietary and NDA-covered access to extra information from Nvidia if they wanted to. In addition, while it's been a while, since only a few console manufacturers are out there, it's been a small number of designs that have had the chance to use Nvidia and didn't. It could be that AMD is more accommodating with making custom designs, have had better products for the use case at design time, or had a better pricing contract. If it was one or more of those options, the manufacturer would probably never tell us about it. From what we know, the manufacturers could have had many other reasons to go with AMD.

                Implying it's all about open source when those manufacturers haven't been adherents themselves may be incorrect and is certainly unproven, which doesn't help make a case.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Giving nvidia the finger

              Daring to take on the Linux fanbois here.... You're braver than me!

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Giving nvidia the finger

          Breaking News.

          Nvidia chops of nose to spite it's face.

        4. georgezilla

          Re: Giving nvidia the finger

          " ... Nvidia does not owe Linux a thing. ... "

          And nobody has said that they do.

          Oops.

          Sorry.

          Then what would you have to bitch about at Linux.

          Never mind.

          Sorry.

          My bad.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Mushroom

          Re: Giving nvidia the finger

          > So what. Nvidia does not owe Linux a thing.

          Except for HPC clusters running Linux and using CUDA, which needs super-expensive NVIDIA GPU's that fatten NVIDIA's wallet.

          Clueless Solaris fanboi.

          1. VoiceOfTruth

            Re: Giving nvidia the finger

            For that there are Nvidia drivers. Too bad that some people don't like that.

  2. Martin-R

    Arrogance and rude behavior are rampant in just technology circles?

    Particularly post-Covid, I'd argue that "Arrogance and rude behavior are rampant in many (most?) circles". I've seen some pretty appalling displays that have nothing to do with technology.

    1. Adrian 4

      Re: Arrogance and rude behavior are rampant in just technology circles?

      I think it long predates Covid, but it's not just electronics tech / computer tech. It's anywhere you have specialists.

      Look at the behaviour of culinary chefs, for instance. It's even celebrated by the media.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjAvmz3jKSU

      1. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: Arrogance and rude behavior are rampant in just technology circles?

        -> Look at the behaviour of culinary chefs, for instance. It's even celebrated by the media.

        I really don't know who these people think they are. They are cooks yelling at less experienced cooks. Their egos are bigger than the bills for their versions of pie and chips.

      2. alisonken1
        Coat

        Re: Arrogance and rude behavior are rampant in just technology circles?

        I've seen other media where Gordon was very polite as well. Master Chef and Master Chef Junior for example.

        I believe Hell's Kitchen was originally produced to get into the consumer demand for bad boy behavior.

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: Arrogance and rude behavior are rampant in just technology circles?

          A lot of it is manufactured drama, at least on the TV shows- how else will they get ratings?

          (Master Chef Junior, from what I understand, Gordon is actually a decent human being with, because the contestants are kids, after all. I don't know, I don't watch much TV.)

          Bill and Ted Said it best: "be excellent to each other."

        2. EarthDog

          Re: Arrogance and rude behavior are rampant in just technology circles?

          In the shows I have seen Gordon was always kind to armatures. He often encouraged them and took time with them. The people who thought they were hot "stuff" and pretended to know more than they did were the ones who garnered his wrath.

          So is it often in the tech world where self promoting charlatans with questionable skills can destroy open source paradigms in a short time. Unless corrected. And they should be run off.

      3. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: Arrogance and rude behavior are rampant in just technology circles?

        I had a math teacher who was able to insult the whole class for 15 minutes without repeating himself if he witnessed any behaviour he didn't agree with - Never before was I called a "pedal turkey" (dindon à pédale in the original version), and never after ^^

        He was nonetheless probably the best math teacher I ever had.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Arrogance and rude behavior are rampant in just technology circles?

      've seen some pretty appalling displays that have nothing to do with technology.

      Indeed. Humans gonna human, no matter the context.

      The problem is somewhat compounded by the fact that people think they are free to be nasty online because 'it's just words and words don't matter'

      Which is a really, really flawed way of looking at it. Especially as a lot of our interpersonal communication depends on body language, tone of voice and facial expression. Without those, words that, if said face to face, would just get a laugh, can raise tempers and cause hurt.

      Be nice to one another people. It's not hard - it just involves not letting your ego take over.

  3. Roger Kynaston
    Thumb Up

    rude maintainers

    For a while I worked to migrate off sendmail to another mta and subscribed to the mailing lists. It was staggeringly rude and contemptuous of newbies. I understand the need to look through the archives first and to post all relevant information but even then you asked a question at your peril. I really hope that these practises do die.

    1. Jenny with the Axe

      Re: rude maintainers

      I'm fairly sure I know which one you meant - one that was technically quite good, and which I worked with for years at an ISP, but which a lot of people refused to touch due to the rude and contemptuous behaviour of its creator. His attitude was contagious, and one of the main reasons why that MTA never got as wide a userbase as might have deserved on a purely technical basis.

      The lesson is that it doesn't matter how good your software is on a technical basis if you make it really unpleasant for people to find ways to use it.

      1. Adrian 4

        Re: rude maintainers

        There's a common cause for this behaviour. From the developer's perspective, the same mistake (and failing to look for existing solutions) is a common and repeated problem. So it causes irritation. From the newbie's point of view, it's the first time the problem ever happened and the first time they asked.

        This doesn't excuse the behaviour, but understanding it is the first step to avoiding it.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: rude maintainers

          the same mistake (and failing to look for existing solutions) is a common and repeated problem

          Which is why (in general) devs shouldn't do support..

          (I came from a dev background but switched over to doing support about 25 years ago. If you can't take people asking the same questions time after time, really, really don't do support. I'm a fairly patient person but have snapped at someone on a couple of occasions. And it's triggered by the same thing - the refusal to learn. If I've taught you to do the same thing 5 times I'd like you to remember it - even if it means being proactive and writing it down! Willful ignorance pushes my buttons..)

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: rude maintainers

          "understanding it is the first step to avoiding it"

          And that step might well be providing an FAQ.

        3. David Austin

          Re: rude maintainers

          The counterpoint to that some open source projects can end up in situations where the documentation lags far behind the software (As code is cool to write but documentation is not)

          It may have been written over a decade ago, but The Luxury of Ignorance is still sadly relevant today.

          If you don't write the documentation, don't get huffy when people come to you repeatedly asking the same question.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: rude maintainers

        one that was technically quite good

        Qmail?

        I've been using it for years but then I've never met the author (or even had anything to do with him other than reading some of his stuff). He does seem to have some... determined views on things.

        1. Sitaram Chamarty

          Re: rude maintainers

          if it is Qmail they're talking about, DJB is much more well known now for ChaCha/Salsa stream ciphers, Poly1305 MAC, and the Ed25519 replacements for EdDSA. They're pretty much the standard for "NIST/NSA did not have their sticky fingers in this"-cryptography.

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: rude maintainers

            Something like 90+% of modern practical cryptography algorithms are due to djb. If he's an NSA/GCHQ/GU/Mossad/PLASSF(delete as appropriate) plant we're all totally screwed. On the other hand, I really don't see him playing nice with any TLA.

            1. Jenny with the Axe

              Re: rude maintainers

              I can't imagine him being anyone's plant. I can't imagine him listening to anyone he considers less smart than himself, which (rightly) means most of the world and includes the people who'd theoretically be running a plant.

              Of course, he might have spent decades building that reputation in order to be the perfect plant...

              1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
                Black Helicopters

                Re: rude maintainers

                Of course, he might have spent decades building that reputation in order to be the perfect plant...

                That's the problem with operational paranoia. If done properly you don't even trust yourself(*).

                (*) See lots of PKD novels.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: rude maintainers

              "Something like 90+% of modern practical cryptography algorithms are due to djb."

              That seems highly unlikely. Even if it's true, how many of these get used? How many have been tested to the same extent as the ones in widespread use?

        2. Jenny with the Axe

          Re: rude maintainers

          That's the one I'm talking about, anyway.

          DJB has gone on to do more brilliant things, mainly in cryptography (as in actual cryptography, not cryptocurrency). The man *is* genuinely brilliant, and very used to being the smartest person in the room - because he is scary smart. But at least back in the qmail days, any suggestion that something in his software was maybe not the perfect platonic ideal was not exactly favourably received.

          1. R Soul Silver badge

            Re: rude maintainers

            It was the same story with his DNS software. Which was shit and is thankfully now abandonware.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: rude maintainers

      I'm particularly aware of this when I ask for advice because I can't work out how to do something, and the guidance in the Help is deeply impenetrable, or can only be found in a forum by looking back through years of posts all sorts of probably unrelated issues on the off chance that it might be there.

      Is it too much to ask that these self-proclaimed experts just give an answer? Or at least a link to the relevant one if it's been given fairly recently. Otherwise, why bother being on that forum? Is it to just flaunt their expertise without sharing it? It often seems so.

      1. david 12 Silver badge

        Re: rude maintainers

        > Is it too much to ask that these self-proclaimed experts just give an answer? <

        Not at all. For a couple of years I hung out in the microsoft.public newsgroups, which were supported by a number of knowledgeable people who politely and helpfully answered guestions, including simple, ignorant, repetitive questions.

        I only answered interesting difficult questions, and there was one short-tempered character who, it turned out, was suffering from a chronic disease condition which eventually killed him, but you could turn up and ask a question like 'it's a bug when i divide 1 by zero it doesn't give 1' and get a polite helpful reply.

        Microsoft eventually killed the microsoft.public usenet, and the volunteer community which supported it, but while it lasted it was a pointed contrast to the comp. newsgroups, demonstrating that it was possible to be technical, while also helpful and adult.

  4. Tony Pott

    Offensive and poorlt thought through

    Can we stop saying autism causes assholery please? It's lazy, offensive, and untrue.

    The reason why many people in tech behave poorly flows not from the 'fact' (largely unsupported by data) that disproportionately many of us are autistic, but from the way we approach finding solutions to technical problems. In general, we strive to redefine the problem, and exclude what has no direct bearing on it, so that we build a simplified mental model where the solution is apparent. Because collaborative relationships are not part of any technical problem domain, they are excluded from consideration, the work needed to maintain them becomes seen as a diversion of resources, and behaviour that damages collaboration is seen as harmless.

    A fix for this is not obvious, but please stop blaming autistics. We struggle to cope only in real-world social situations, and are often overly careful not to cause offense because, even if undiagnosed, we are aware of our limitations. In online interactions, which are the core of this article, we function on an equal footing with our neurotypical peers.

    This article seeks to conceal a lack of understanding of the problem with a shameful attack on a vulnerable group. Please do better.

    1. nematoad

      Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

      "We struggle to cope only in real-world social situations,"

      When I was working in a desktop support team we had one person drafted in as we were short-handed at the time. Now normally he was in the development team and was really good at his job. He was the "go-to guy" when there was any problem sorting out awkward software.

      When it came to dealing with users he was way out of his depth, abrupt, argumentative and sometimes down-right rude. In the end he was more or less kept in the office and used as a liaison with the programmers, the network team and the sysadmins. They all knew him and he knew them so was much more at ease and he did a fine job.

      I know that we desktop support people were regarded as lesser beings, sort of IT janitors, but you needed social skills, tact and above all patience and this guy did not, so he was placed in a very difficult position.

      I have no idea if he was on the Autistic spectrum but from my observations he may very well have been.

      1. Tony Pott

        Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

        Are you qualified to diagnose autism, or are you merely saying that, from your observations, he fitted the stereotype of an autistic person?

        An alternative view of this guy's behaviour is that he was a neurotypical man, fully conscious of his technical standing and that it allowed him to get away with being an asshole, so he did.

        It is precisely because these worthless stereotypes persist to pollute the thought processes of otherwise rational and decent people (as I'm sure you are), that I take it so seriously when reputable tech journalists persist in perpetuating them.

        1. Stephen Wilkinson

          Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

          Totally agree, as they say, if you've met one autistic person, you've met one autistic person.

          Each individual with ASD is an individual and will have different traits to all others on the spectrum.

          Yes, there may be traits which are the same but stereotyping is stereotyping and does anyone who's non-neurotypical a disservice.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

            Precisely. Autism, in my training, was described as a triad of functional issues. Each one is part of its own spectrum. My daughter, who is actually qualified to diagnose ASD, had to do a separate course- over and above her standard Autism competency- for this.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

          "...neurotypical man..."

          "...worthless stereotypes..."

          Quite.

        3. Ididntbringacoat

          Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

          "It is precisely because these worthless stereotypes persist. . .."

          Such as "neurotypical man"?

          1. Tony Pott

            Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

            As opposed to an autistic one.

            He wrote about a man whose behaviour was, he believed, indicative of autism. I pointed out that a man who was neurotypical could behave this way. Nothing I wrote implied that this behaviour was displayed by all non-autistic men: I would have to be entirely mindless to think that, and nothing I've written in this thread indicates that I am.

            For you to interpret what I wrote in the way you have is irrational.

            1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

              Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

              "For you to interpret what I wrote in the way you have is irrational."

              I thought that's what neuro-typical meant.

      2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

        When it came to dealing with users he was way out of his depth, abrupt, argumentative and sometimes down-right rude.

        That's reasonable because all users are wankers and arseholes.

        Or so it will seem to those who don't have the skills and talent to deal with users and are, as here, out of their depth.

        I would have thought it went without saying that people have different aptitudes, will be perfect in some roles, worse than useless and completely unsuitable in others.

        Putting people in the right shaped hole is the key to success. Forcing them into a wrong shaped hole is utterly disastrous for everyone. As this tale perfectly shows.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

          Putting people in the right shaped hole is the key to success

          Ding ding ding ding! A good team needs all sorts of roles - from technically-driven non-people people, people who can follow a script 200 times the same way and even, shockingly, people like me that get bored with doing routine stuff but are good with people (and good at explaining techie stuff to non-techies).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

            Exactly. Daughter who is far from autistic. In fact almost the mirror of at least the stereotype- has interned in one big tech company, will start work soon as a graduate for another. It's her people skills that the company need ( though she has developed a fair level of competency now- a surprise to her as much as it is to us).

        2. oiseau
          Facepalm

          Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

          That's reasonable because all users are wankers and arseholes.

          No.

          Not all, but a great deal of them are.

          Part of it is not their fault.

          A huge percentage of users at some point were convinced early on that using a computer was easy as 1-2-3 and for everybody.

          MS was the creator of this misinformation machine, with IBM close behind.

          After all, they had to sell their software with the kit and telling the truth (ie: it was not easy as 1-2-3 and certainly not for eveybody) would certainly hinder their objectives.

          So people drank the new kool-aid and every TD&H who could afford one went along: puchased an x86 PC, connected everything, started it up and presto!: the future was before them.

          And it was just an <Enter> away!

          This, of course, dripped down into corporate/government structures and every one with a PC at home knew how to use one so very few people actually got proper training.

          ie: the type of training that a desktop support person needs the user to have so they can do their job properly.

          If I had a US$1 for each time (another life, long ago) I had to explain basic-basics ie: how to save documents to drive or diskette, make a backup, shut down properly a PC, directly deleting (instead of opening) *.exe files arriving at the inbox, etc., etc., etc., many times to the same users over and over again, I'd be a wealthy man living out my retirement on the St. James coast in Barbados.

          If you add to this that sometimes users are also assholes, the combination can be quite annoying and the only way to deal with it is ignoring them, being rude, or downright bad.

          The second time one of the assholes ran an *.exe from their mbox and called me to get things sorted out, I asked him if he had not understood my previous instructions.

          His answer: "No matter, get it fixed. That's what your are paid for."

          My reply: "You're right"*

          * A low level format of his C:\ with all the personal files he should have (as instructed) backed up to the diskettes I provided for him, didn't bother look to see if any were recoverable.

          From then on, that was the standard procedure for those events and after a couple of months, *.exe calls were no more.

          O.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

            On the whole the worse group are "Computers are too difficult for me so I won't make the effort to learn how to do my job use them".

            1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

              Re: Offensive and poorly thought through

              We (engineers and some scientists) have not helped in that over the last hundred years we've carefully taught everyone else to believe in magic.

              Flick the switch, the light turns on: magic.

              Turn the ignition, the engine starts: magic.

              Turn the tap, water comes out: magic.

              Fire up a browser, internet appears: magic.

              Insufficiently understood technology is always indistinguishable from magic; we just happen to be the magicians who know (some) of the proper incantations. Perhaps we need to be spreading the knowledge a little better?

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: Offensive and poorly thought through

                We're not hiding this stuff. You can go online or to the library and find clear, no-knowledge-required explanations of how all of those things work and how to fix them. That is how most of us who understand them came to do so. I didn't start programming when someone taught me. I started when I found a book on HTML, which didn't teach me about programming, but let me see how a relatively basic computer concept worked. Then I wanted to learn how more complex ones worked and I found those instructions. Only later did I seek out a person to teach me in a more direct manner, and even that didn't stop my undirected experimentation.

                The only alternative is to deliberately make things harder for users to use. For example, don't do anything automatic and make people go through network configuration and limited interfaces to get online. This doesn't help, because someone will see that as a problem, which it is, and fix it so that a user doesn't need a lot of knowledge to do something easy. I would prefer to set my microwave by pushing buttons rather than manually setting the configuration of the magnetron, because I don't know how to directly control that but it's not necessary for me to know to make use of it. I can still go find out how the components work if I need to later on.

                1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

                  Re: Offensive and poorly thought through

                  Can't help but agree with you - I learned in a similar way myself though a long time before HTML was even thought of - but I do have a serious concern in that a lot of societies globally seem to teach that certain subjects are 'hard'. And we teach that starting at very early school ages... Arithmetic is hard, reading is hard, spelling is hard, punctuality and attention are hard...

                  No, I don't have a solution. But I wish we could encourage kids that learning stuff is fun and only 'hard' in very rare cases.

                  1. SundogUK Silver badge

                    Re: Offensive and poorly thought through

                    I don't think this is true. There is a level of abstraction in something like math (beyond 2+2=4) which a fairly large proportion of the population is simply not capable of. A lot of the problems we see in our schools are because we insist on forcing these kids to try to learn something they will never be able to manage.

              2. sabroni Silver badge

                Re: Flick the switch, the light turns on: magic.

                That's not what I was taught. Where the fuck did you go to school?

            2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

              Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

              Hmmmm. I disagree. Many in that category are actually quite humble.

              The worst are the ones who think they know everything, but don't.

              They won't admit to doing certain things that caused the problem, whilst you know they did.

              They reply with things like "I tried that already", whilst clearly they didn't, or they did it wrong.

              Sprinkled on top of that, some have the attitude that they are cleverer than you and that you should have it fixed by now.

              When I did support (the team supported approx 10,000 internal employees), things would sometimes grind to a halt because there was no easy way to continue without telling them they were lying.

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

                I'm not sure about that. Both groups have different ways of being annoying. I think your descriptions are accurate, which leads to the following interactions:

                I know everything guy: Argues with you for a long time before you prove what needs to be done. Embarrassed that they don't actually know everything, they will eventually back down before they get extra proof. Next time, they will do what you showed them so they don't need to ask for help.

                I don't know how to use computers guy: Much more humble, asks for help, you show them what to do, and everything seems fine. Tomorrow, they're back asking you how to do the same thing, or something similarly easy. They can also get less humble later on if they think that not learning is an appropriate course of action. This can end up taking a lot longer and giving them the impression that it's fine to waste your time with basic questions because you're always happy to help so why should they figure it out?

                Neither kind is good, and depending on the specifics of the situation, either kind can end up being much worse.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

                "Can you try it again? Sometimes that helps."

                That seems about the best you can do with people lying about "I already did that!". But it depends on how big a liar / jerk they really are: if they realize they probably should have tried your fix suggestion, and they're just relieved to have a way out of the mess without (further) loss of face, it usually works.

                OTOH if they're a toxic turd they may very well double down on their lie. At that point you can either do the hard thing and call them on it, or maybe suggest a herculean fix-it-yourself-then task and see how far they're willing to go to perpetuate their nonsense.

                Just make sure you've documented all your reasonable this-would-have-fixed-it directions in the incident report, before you suggest they try smashing their hardware to flinders and manually rebuilding the thing from the shards.

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

            "MS was the creator of this misinformation machine, with IBM close behind."

            Before them, Apple lead the way with the "ease of use" myth.

          3. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

            users == everyone else but the developers.i.e. almost everyone. And if the tech isn't designed for these users it's the devs who are at fault. The tech has no function otherwise ( specialist applications excepted).

        3. Munchausen's proxy
          Pint

          Re: Offensive and poorlt thought through

          "Putting people in the right shaped hole is the key to success. Forcing them into a wrong shaped hole is utterly disastrous for everyone. As this tale perfectly shows."

          And as metrics-based management will never understand.

  5. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Something missing here

    The article seems to be a mixture of name dropping and straw man arguments.

    In real life I get the impression of Open Source developers who are more interested in their creations than in the people who use the software. I used to joke that schools would run so much better if we could just keep the kids out.

    For some developers, and yes, not just open source, the same is true with regard to users. Wanting software to work in a way that makes sense to how the users work in real life seems far less important to them than implementing some feature that they are fond of. And when someone has the temerity to suggest that "It would be better if it went like...(this)" it upsets them. Who are we to criticise their baby? And you then see their snippy comments on line.Either arrogant ("That's how it got to be") or illogical ("we don't want to give priority to...<something>.)." when there appears to be no sensible reason why and they won't give an explanation if we, the users have missed some salient point.

    1. Roger Kynaston
      Joke

      Re: Something missing here

      Downtime: that time when a system is stable and immune from user input!

      Icon just to make it clear.

    2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

      Re: Something missing here

      That sounds like Gnome!

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Something missing here

      "Wanting software to work in a way that makes sense to how the users work in real life"

      Sometimes in real life users seem determined to not use the S/W in the way it was intended, even if the way it was intended was a management requirement.

      A long time ago I put together an order processing system. It printed a picking list (the clue's in the name). After picking the goods the users had to enter the serial numbers picked into the system and then print out a despatch note (the clue's also in the name) to go with the goods. Instead of a neatly printed despatch note customers were apt to get the picking list with the serial numbers added by hand.

      1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        How People Use Software

        First, I'll note the customer got the same info, whether the computer was used as intended by the software designer, or whether the manual shortcut was taken.

        Second, I'll ask: was it faster for product-pickers to write down the serial numbers by hand than it was to work the computer as intended? If the answer is "yes," then the program design is at fault.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: How People Use Software

          I don't know the system, but both of your statements could well be incorrect.

          "First, I'll note the customer got the same info, whether the computer was used as intended by the software designer, or whether the manual shortcut was taken."

          You don't know that. What else was on the dispatch note? Maybe it was just a copy of the list with serial numbers, but maybe it included extra information. The description we have doesn't indicate this. I'll also note that the computer might have done other things with that information, such as tracking who has each serial number for tracking product defects or allowing the customer to look it up later.

          "Second, I'll ask: was it faster for product-pickers to write down the serial numbers by hand than it was to work the computer as intended? If the answer is "yes," then the program design is at fault."

          Or the product picking process was. Either way, it sounds like they had to note the numbers and come back to copy them in, so by definition it was faster. Unless they could take the computer with them and write them at the point of picking, the computer approach is probably slower. This is acceptable if there is a benefit to doing it. We don't know if there was.

          1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

            Re: How People Use Software

            @doubleslayer: re: "customer got the same information": yes, I was going purely off the description given, and there may be other unknown-to-us data included in the despatch report.

            Re: "Or the product picking process was [defective]": you are right, it could have been.

            Doctor Syntax seemed to be bothered that users weren't using the software as designed (to management's specs). These users probably used the software incompletely/incorrectly because management gave the users conflicting orders: (a) use this software (which slows you down), and, presumably, (b) "meet your pick quotas or suffer negative financial consequences" (wages docked, demotion, or firing). Human nature ensures goal "b" gets priority.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Electronics'R'Us
    Holmes

    Prety broad brush

    I know and work with some people on the autistic spectrum (they have been diagnosed by suitably qualified people and $COMPANY has a rather inclusive attitude as they are really good in some positions).

    They are all pretty unique and I cannot state any single (or even multiple) traits that they share.

    I am not on the spectrum but I can honestly say there have been times (many years ago) when I have sent a 'rocket' usually after having to explain for the N(th) time how something operates.

    Had such a diagnosis been around when I was young, I would probably have been tagged as ADD / ADHD which can show up as impatience with those who don't pick up concepts particularly quickly (apparently many people are diagnosed with it when in reality they are somewhat different. That doesn't mean it is not a real condition though).

    I now follow the advice of my grandmother 'Honey catches more flies than vinegar' (although I am not sure I desire to catch flies, but you get the drift). Being decent to others is something we can all do in my view.

    I am not convinced that such diagnoses are larger in tech than other industries, though.

    1. oiseau
      Facepalm

      Re: Prety broad brush

      ... which can show up as impatience with those who don't pick up concepts particularly quickly ...

      Could be, I can easily relate to that. Maybe I'm a member of that club and did not know.

      But, does not suffering fools/idiots/assholes lightly also count?

      eg: just how many times did I have to explain in detail that _you_do_not_ turn off the expensive/new ca. i486 1995 PC by just flipping the switch because it screwed up the hard drive?

      There's a point where just plain foolishness/idiocy/assholiness comes into play and that does not get fixed with honey.

      Been there, done that.

      O.

  8. jmch Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "be excellent to each other."

    Bill and Ted's advice is really all that is needed!!

  9. VoiceOfTruth

    There are good open source leaders out there

    There are also some shouty full-of-themselves think-they-are-leaders. Imagine if your first exposure to open source was the finger from Torvalds, the foot-bogey munching Stallman (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rhj8sh1uiDY), and the unpleasantries from Poettering. It is not a good experience. I have seen it quite a few times. BUT far more often i have also seen a lot of very good, very helpful open source interactions.

    Perhaps it is fair to say that Open-source leaders' reputations as jerks is MOSTLY undeserved.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    rude language

    I've long abandoned any form of rude language or swear words in anything professional.

    Long ago, I even used the C word in an inappropriate manner at work (is there any appropriate way, BTW ?).

    But after that, I understood that it is counter productive, as, even as right as you may be, it's not your valid point which will be attacked, but the rudeness.

    Not the point but the shape of it, since it is the easiest to attack.

    End of the day, if you think someone is talking utter nonsense and embarrassing themselves, sarcasm and/or patient, unrude, polite, and unnecessary long explanations , child style, on why this is wrong works a lot better, and can be *way* more humiliating than swear words.

    Like a fellow coworker was used to say as a reply to a really shit and unhelpful mail exchange with someone, "thank you for your helpful support !"

    1. Tom 38

      Re: rude language

      The delight of business language is that you can actually call someone a cunt, quite clearly, and in full view of everyone, without actually using the word "cunt". In fact, its better, a cunt will just throw off being called a cunt - they already know they are one - but cutting them down with words in front of their peers and managers, that will hurt them more than anything. They'll think about it when they try to sleep.

      As my delightful English teacher Mr Hurdley used to say, swearing is just indicative of a lack of vocabulary.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: rude language

        "As my delightful English teacher Mr Hurdley used to say, swearing is just indicative of a lack of vocabulary."

        Swearing is often useful punctuation when using syntax tactically. It's all in the timing ... and knowing your audience. There is no one size fits all when dealing with human beings.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: rude language

          OTOH Frankie Boyle said the word "fucking" is used in Glasgow as a signal to the listener that the speaker is about to use a noun.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: rude language

        I used to think that. Now I think that swearing is a way tp punch through, sometimes- to give a certain level of high energy emphasis. If it's only used rarely .

        There's that kind of swearing and the kind that is used in lieu of appropriate words, or like a kind of punctuation.

  11. Irony Deficient

    While no one will ever mistake Torvalds for a meek, mild-mattered developer,

    Was “mild-mannered” intended there rather than “mild-mattered”?

  12. DarkwavePunk

    Slimy Arse Sausages.

    As I age it seems I spend more time answering questions than doing stuff in the IT sphere. I swear like a fucking trooper but not at people directly. Vent my anger over some fucking shitty wankstain system that some poor sod has to support not them. If something is an utter cockbadger pile of fartmunch swine shlongs I can say it and they can get a bit of confidence about their (muted) thoughts. Old and cocking foulmouthed rants can elevate the youth into a proper state of nihilistic ennui.

  13. ecofeco Silver badge

    I know none of these people personally

    But what I do know is that open source and shareware and freeware are a godsend against the corporate tech douche bro walled garden of insanity.

    That alone makes them OK in my book.

  14. Blackjack Silver badge

    They are people, that's the problem.

  15. EarthDog

    High Standards

    oft times the person with high standards who has to always "slap the wrist" of sloppy half bright monkeys who don't take standards seriously is branded the jerk, when it is the sloppy people who are the jerks. The sloppy people will create rework, breakable software (or other stuff), difficult maintenece, and basically just an ugly piece of work.

    Hooray for the jerks.

  16. martinusher Silver badge

    Its the rude/obnoxious ones that stand out

    As with everything these days it seems that you've got to be nasty to be noticed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Its the rude/obnoxious ones that stand out

      sod off!

      :-)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apropos responsibility...

    Now that we have kinder developers, and we have established that, can we have kinder journalists perhaps as well? Ones who do not descent into "SJW" conspiracy theories (not even bothering with anything resembling proof at more than "it's a hyperlink and something's been vaguely alluded to thus it's true" level) or put people on the spot like that or perpetuate harmful stereotypes about neurodivergent people?

    1. MJB7

      Re: Apropos responsibility...

      Where do you get the idea that journalist has descended into SJW conspiracy theories? They report that some people object to Codes of Conduct on the basis that they are designed by SJWs. (I haven't checked the authenticity of the quote, but it seems entirely plausible.)

      Full disclosure: I would be delighted if someone called me a social justice warrior.

  18. sabroni Silver badge

    Arrogance and rude behavior are rampant in technology circles.

    Fuck off

  19. Toby Poynder

    Speaking as an onlooker

    I preferred the old Linus.

  20. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Strawmen

    Slowly but shortly, the open-source community is becoming a kinder, gentler, and better one.

    I think it's just getting bigger and more varied. Lots of people turn into arseholes when doing tasks to which they are not suited or when things are done the way they like. Mailing lists expose this but it goes on all over the place. And women can be just as bad as men when it comes to hurting their colleagues.

    As for codes of conducts: in my opinion they are passive-aggressive manifestos from the jobsworth brigade.

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