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What Modern Cooperation Looks Like

From: Thomas Lord
Subject: What Modern Cooperation Looks Like
Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2008 01:54:14 -0800
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20060808)

In email, and then on another list, and then in email arising
from that other list, I was drawn into the discussion about the
development tools and practices of the Emacs project.

During none of that did I look back at the emacs-devel threads.
This was a side discussion, standing on its own,  in relation
to a document about  revision control that ESR is working on.

I found it to be a very unpleasant discussion and exited
fairly quickly.  I did not, in the end, feel that my opinions
or participation had been treated respectfully (other than
by a friend who first suggested that I be asked to join the
conversation).  I did not have the impression that my words
were being read particularly carefully by ESR.   I presume
that he intended respect and tried to point out the problems,
but then they got immediately worse instead.

I was advised in that discussion, by ESR, to refrain from
getting too much into "politics" because I spoke about about
some political and economic factors that I think are relevant
to the questions I was posed.
I advised backing up from the project of advocating tools
to a project of seriously evaluating needs  -- treating the
Emacs project as a "customer" rather than as a "problem" --
and this part of what I said seems to have gone all but ignored
(my friend being an exception).

I feel strongly that my character was improperly attacked
during this discussion, and in a public forum, and by at least
one person in a position to unduly influence public opinion
about me.

And then, after all of that, I sampled the emacs-devel threads
related to all of this and I saw something that filled me with
a sense of recognition.   I think I have seen a similar social
dynamic arise in my own work on GNU Guile and then GNU

It occurs to me, quite simply, that a cooperative and intellectually
sound approach to helping the Emacs project with tools expertise
would look nothing at all like the discussion on emacs-devel, or
the discussion on this other list.   There is simply no good reason
for this kind of hand-waving, arm-twisting, flying accusations,
assaults on character, or incitement of strife.   The technical issues
don't merit it.


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