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Social-technical aspects of scale and free software discussions (was Re:

From: Paul D. Fernhout
Subject: Social-technical aspects of scale and free software discussions (was Re: Kindness as a replacement for Truth)
Date: Sat, 1 Aug 2020 13:03:25 -0400
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:68.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/68.10.0

Kindness versus something else regarding "truth" is less of an issue
when people keep focused on the specific technical merits or "truths" of
the question -- instead of drifting (often unknowingly) into ad hominem
comments on the poster or other overly-broad generalizations. But that
can be easier said then done as groups get larger and more diverse. So,
more than "money" (which is ultimately just a coordination method like
Kanban tokens), a bigger challenge for any movement is "scale". Dealing
with scale in social-technical systems is a complex topic -- although
somewhat on-topic related to building successful free software
communities. Some thoughts and quotes on that are below for anyone
interested in reading at length on the broader concern of scale and
social software to facilitate discussions (including on free software).


==== Amplifying on the emotional challenges of scale for communications

Emotional tone tends to be less of an issue in groups of under
twenty-five people, especially if they somewhat know each other from
repeated interactions. That is not because emotional tone is not
important in small groups -- but it is because humanity's
hunter/gatherer past working in small groups as hunting parties and
gathering parties makes it likely the average person will have the
social skill to navigate a small group (including repairing social
relationships when interactions break down).

Large semi-anonymous mailing lists like libreplanet-discuss with
(estimating) on the order of 100 posters and likely many more lurkers
are beyond that small group size humans are adapted for working together
in. Not saying a big mailing list is necessarily "bad" -- just that a
big list faces various challenges which tend to get more problematical
as it grows in number of participants and the number of topics it
covers. An additional challenge is a list of people who mostly don't
know each other well even if they may have some common interests.
Mailing lists also face the challenge of social dis-inhibition from
email not being face-to-face. Such dis-inhibition challenges are even
bigger when posters to the list are not always personally identifiable
and acting in a work-related capacity -- where people tend to be more
restrained, for good or bad.

One of the reasons centralized social media took off was some of these
sorts of social challenges from large mailing lists. Spam was obviously
was another issue driving a move to centralized social media. Spam and
so on now infests social media too -- but new tech innovations usually
get a short reprieve from parasites adapting to it. The web too had a
golden age in the late 1990s before being inundated by junk.

These issues of scale don't go away even if new systems may get a short
reprieve both because they start small and because the parasites have
not found them yet. Ultimately, social software needs to be designed to
deal with parasites -- just like the human body only survives by
resisting infections and mediating conflicts among co-evolving symbiotic

Someone I know had for a time an email sig of "Pain is the cost of
maintaining boundaries". In that sense, perhaps having a collective
immune system of some sort is the cost of maintaining a community? But
like human immune systems, how do social immune systems identify
problematical situations and how do they avoid overreacting? Related:
"A certain type of immune cell -- the regulatory T cell, or Treg for
short -- is in charge of putting on the brakes on the immune response.
In a way, this cell type might be considered the immune system's traffic

Humans have also been part of larger tribes as well, so it's not like
humans can't coordinate in larger groups (but see also "Dunbar's
number"). But tribal get-togethers may have different social patterns
than small groups -- patterns mediated by centuries of cultural
traditions (including religious traditions) and may function as a
sort-of social immune system. For example, some Native American tribes
us a Potlatch custom to redistribute wealth.

And in hunter/gatherer work parties as well as tribal gatherings, in
general most people were related and had known each other from birth --
which is something not true on most internet mailing lists.

Emotional tone is also less of an issue when the processes or systems
under discussion are of a more approachable size because they are
modular or simpler in some general ways. That is because more modular
systems are usually less stressful to work with -- and stress can bring
out the worst in some people (even as stress can also bring out the best
in some others up to a point).

The most valuable thing bigger projects have is not the source code or
the infrastructure, but it instead is the people. If you lost all the
source code or infrastructure for many big projects (the Linux kernel,
Apache web server, emacs, etc.), a group of committed experience people
with a common purpose could quickly replace the essential parts and then
go from there. And the result would probably be better the second or
third time around -- as in Alan Kay's "burn the disk packs" adage.

But source code and infrastructure without people who care about it is
generally useless soon due to bitrot as systems change around it or the
code becomes subject to parasitism (e.g. malware, adware,
embrace-extend-extinguish toll-taking, etc.). So that is why keeping
people involved positively in projects is so important -- as is
attracting new people given inevitable turnover. It is ultimately the
people who breath life into projects and who keep projects alive in a
changing world. Yet, even as people are the life of a project, some
human actions can also be the death of one.

How to create an emotional climate (and supporting technosphere) that is
both productive and welcoming emotionally is a continual challenge.
Circumstances, personalities, relationships, capabilities, priorities,
and purposes can all change over time which is part of that challenge.

==== Hunter/Gatherers and adaptation

One of the most amazing things about a modern city like, say, New York
City, is that it works at all socially -- given millions of inhabitants
all adapted for hundreds of generations mainly to work in small social
groups. The general point is that scale can change things and dealing
with scaling issues -- especially internet-sized scale -- is one
challenge (hopefully not eventually tragedy?) of modern times.

Hunter/Gatherers had certain patterns of social organizations that
differ from the patterns most humans have grown used to recently.

See also: "The Original Affluent Society" by Marshall Sahlins

And also: "Beyond Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure" by
Daniel Quinn

And also: "The Four Networks Theory of Power: A Theoretical Home for
Power Structure Research" by G. William Domhoff
"Before civilizations emerged, there may have been "inverted power
structures" in which the rank-and-file could discipline would-be
dominators through gossip, scorn, shunning, and if need be,
assassination (Boehm, 1999). Only where river flooding allowed the
possibility of alluvial agriculture, in conjunction with close proximity
to geographical areas that encouraged different but complementary
networks, did the "caging" of populations make possible the development
of the fixed power structures of domination and exploitation that have
characterized all civilizations. The strong egalitarian tendencies that
characterized pre-historic social groups were submerged when power
seekers could build on a religious, economic, military, or political
base to gain control of others."

People recreate some hunter/gatherer values in mailing lists, but then
as they grow in size and importance, do they then face similar issues as
power shifts somehow?

Related on "How Hunter-Gatherers Maintained Their Egalitarian Ways":
"In sum, my argument here is that the lessons we have to learn from
hunter-gatherers are not about our genes but about our culture. Our
species clearly has the genetic potential to be peaceful and
egalitarian, on the one hand, or to be warlike and despotic, on the
other, or anything in between. If the three theories I've described here
are correct, and if we truly believe in the values of equality and peace
and want them to reign once again as the norm for human beings, then we
need to find ways to deflate the egos, rather than support the egos, of
the despots, bullies, and braggarts among us; make our ways of life more
playful; and raise our children in kindly, trusting ways."

"Supernormal Stimuli", "The Acceleration of Addictiveness", "The
Pleasure Trap", and capturing people's attention via their "Orienting
Response", all those then add to that challenge of scale. All those
mentioned ideas were made possible by modern technology. Modern
technology can produce an abundance of stuff but it can also ironically
produce a scarcity of self-directed free time through using stuff to
control others -- neither of which situations humans are adapted for.
The shortage of free time is given today's social systems which ignore
"The Abolition of Work". That shortage is hopefully not an inherent
property of technological abundance (e.g. things might change with a
"Universal Basic Income"). See also "Voyage from Yesteryear" by James P.
Hogan or Marshall Brain's "Manna" for just two of many alternatives
depicted in fiction.

Obviously, scale has advantages too. One advantage is a diversity of
perspectives from people with diverse backgrounds. That diversity tends
to help projects succeed. But a countertrend can be diversity of
purposes and priorities which can hurt projects depending on how the
project is structured socially.

A diversity of communication styles on an international mailing list
might also cause challenges. For example, in Dutch culture being blunt
is common and expected and is not necessarily seen as rude. But
bluntness might be seen ad rude to, say, someone from Japan. Yet,
likewise, might a Dutch person then think a Japanese person was being
impolite by wasting their time with circuitous expressions instead of
just saying what they mean or feel?

Another aspect of communication styles might be along the lines of
Asperger's/Autism-spectrum (more common among techies) vs. Neurotypical.
"Second, unlike most people, those with Asperger’s do not have the
innate ability to notice and comprehend the emotional states of others.
[Although such an ability can be learned intellectually.] It is the
built-in interest in, and focus on, others that from the earliest
moments of life shape how most people think, act and communicate.
Lacking such an ability to recognize, even be interested in, how other
people think and feel leads to the characteristic behaviors and thought
processes that are unique to Asperger’s."

And also Introvert (longer, reflective, periodic, detailed) vs.
Extrovert (shorter, top-of-mind, engaged, provisional).
"Your greatest power in communicating lies in your awareness of the how
and what of differences. Once we are aware of how an extrovert
communicates differently to an introvert, then we can either make a
conscious choice to modify our style to be more like theirs or accept
those differences."

==== Deeper social-tech issues of scale (participants, tech, time)

Related on bitrot from a century ago by G.K. Chesterton on "Orthodoxy"
as it applies to both technical and social systems:
    We have remarked that one reason offered for being a progressive is
that things naturally tend to grow better. But the only real reason for
being a progressive is that things naturally tend to grow worse. The
corruption in things is not only the best argument for being
progressive; it is also the only argument against being conservative.
The conservative theory would really be quite sweeping and unanswerable
if it were not for this one fact. But all conservatism is based upon the
idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you
do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change.
If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you
particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again;
that is, you must be always having a revolution. Briefly, if you want
the old white post you must have a new white post. But this which is
true even of inanimate things is in a quite special and terrible sense
true of all human things. An almost unnatural vigilance is really
required of the citizen because of the horrible rapidity with which
human institutions grow old. It is the custom in passing romance and
journalism to talk of men suffering under old tyrannies. But, as a fact,
men have almost always suffered under new tyrannies; under tyrannies
that had been public liberties hardly twenty years before.

And from (forgive the "open source" book title) "Producing Open Source
    From the very start of your project's public existence, you should
maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward rude or insulting behavior in
its forums. Zero-tolerance does not mean technical enforcement per se.
You don't have to remove people from the mailing list when they flame
another subscriber, or take away their commit access because they made
derogatory comments. (In theory, you might eventually have to resort to
such actions, but only after all other avenues have failed — which, by
definition, isn't the case at the start of the project.) Zero-tolerance
simply means never letting bad behavior slide by unnoticed. For example,
when someone posts a technical comment mixed together with an ad hominem
attack on some other developer in the project, it is imperative that
your response address the ad hominem attack as a separate issue unto
itself, separate from the technical content.
    It is unfortunately very easy, and all too typical, for constructive
discussions to lapse into destructive flame wars. People will say things
in email that they would never say face-to-face. The topics of
discussion only amplify this effect: in technical issues, people often
feel there is a single right answer to most questions, and that
disagreement with that answer can only be explained by ignorance or
stupidity. It's a short distance from calling someone's technical
proposal stupid to calling the person themselves stupid. In fact, it's
often hard to tell where technical debate leaves off and character
attack begins, which is one reason why drastic responses or punishments
are not a good idea. Instead, when you think you see it happening, make
a post that stresses the importance of keeping the discussion friendly,
without accusing anyone of being deliberately poisonous. Such "Nice
Police" posts do have an unfortunate tendency to sound like a
kindergarten teacher lecturing a class on good behavior:
    "First, let's please cut down on the (potentially) ad hominem
comments; for example, calling J's design for the security layer "naive
and ignorant of the basic principles of computer security." That may be
true or it may not, but in either case it's no way to have the
discussion. J made his proposal in good faith. If it has deficiencies,
point them out, and we'll fix them or get a new design. I'm sure M meant
no personal insult to J, but the phrasing was unfortunate, and we try to
keep things constructive around here. Now, on to the proposal. I think M
was right in saying that..."
   As stilted as such responses sound, they have a noticeable effect. If
you consistently call out bad behavior, but don't demand an apology or
acknowledgement from the offending party, then you leave people free to
cool down and show their better side by behaving more decorously next
time — and they will.
    One of the secrets of doing this successfully is to never make the
meta-discussion the main topic. It should always be an aside, a brief
preface to the main portion of your response. Point out in passing that
"we don't do things that way around here," but then move on to the real
content, so that you're giving people something on-topic to respond to.
If someone protests that they didn't deserve your rebuke, simply refuse
to be drawn into an argument about it. Either don't respond (if you
think they're just letting off steam and don't require a response), or
say you're sorry if you overreacted and that it's hard to detect nuance
in email, then get back to the main topic. Never, ever insist on an
acknowledgement, whether public or private, from someone that they
behaved inappropriately. If they choose of their own volition to post an
apology, that's great, but demanding that they do so will only cause
    The overall goal is to make good etiquette be seen as one of the
"in-group" behaviors. This helps the project, because developers can be
driven away (even from projects they like and want to support) by flame
wars. You may not even know that they were driven away; someone might
lurk on the mailing list, see that it takes a thick skin to participate
in the project, and decide against getting involved at all. Keeping
forums friendly is a long-term survival strategy, and it's easier to do
when the project is still small. Once it's part of the culture, you
won't have to be the only person promoting it. It will be maintained by

That said, I am sympathetic when, say, Miles pointed out essentially how
the Unitarian-Universalists are being torn apart by political
correctness and he was concerned that could happen elsewhere.

See for example something the Reverend Thandeka:
    Todd’s critique and my critique [of UU anti-racism programs] are
complementary, although significantly different in emphasis, tone, and
style. Todd focuses on the loss of reason, freedom of conscience, and
our common humanity in our liberal faith movement today. My 1999 lecture
focused on the loss of compassion and also on the unfortunate
introduction of a doctrine of original sin into our doctrinally-free
faith tradition.
    Both of us are inviting Unitarian Universalists to rack focus as a
spiritual practice and reaffirm the heart and soul of our liberal faith
    I believe we must reaffirm our “almost universal” claim that the
major source of our religious convictions is personal experience.
In Appendix C, I offer a specific protocol called Love Beyond Belief
Groups as a rack-focus spiritual strategy.  The heart of LBB Groups is
insight, reflection, and action guided by compassion. In these groups of
six to ten persons, who meet monthly, biweekly or weekly, people share
from the experiences of their lives, draw from their insights, and find
strength together to turn outward to their communities and the world.
    This recommended strategy does not focus on race but rather on the
work requisite to find and reaffirm the True Self. More precisely, my
suggestion refocuses our attention on our personal experiences of the
loss and recovery of the True Self. Cerberus, my blog series, provides a
framework for my suggestions because it delineates how and why Cerberus
can take control of the race debates in our liberal faith tradition:
fear and trembling.

And it is possible Rev. Thandeka is right that the main way forward is
small tightly-connected groups of some sort organized around a purpose
instead of broad amorphous communities (like big mailing lists).

So, I am not sure the excellent practical advice linked above from that
"Producing Open Source Software" book will really scale endlessly as a
free software community or mailing list gets larger.

Things then become even more challenging if the community comes under
specific attack or parasitism of some sort.

And with our broader social systems under huge amounts of stress for all
sorts of reasons, that stress can spill over anywhere (including here).
Right now there are a lot of people hurting economically, which
increases for some the immediate urgency of considering how to both
survive economically and participate in the free software community.

As is explained below in regard to stigmergy, human discussions tend to
break down if they have dozens of participants. Stigmergy --
coordination by working on a common artifact -- is what can scale socially.

    Mark Elliot at :
"The following represents some of the current findings of the author’s
PhD research on and around collaboration and stigmergic collaboration,
and comprises the core components of the theoretical framework guiding
this article:  ...
    3. Collaboration in small groups (roughly 2-25) relies upon social
negotiation to evolve and guide its process and creative output.
    Research has shown that the ideal size for collaborating groups
(where technology is not being used in any way) is 2-8, with an upper
limit of around 25 (Lipnack & Stamps 180-1). In these smaller groups,
successful collaboration is generally reliant upon social negotiation to
evolve and guide the development of the group’s creative output. In such
scenarios, discussion plays a key role in the negotiation of emergent,
shared understandings—this is, perhaps, the essence of face-to-face
collaboration. Discussion acts as a point of mediation between the
individual collaborators and the creative outcome which may or may not
eventuate. It is in this shared space, the space ‘between’ the
participants, where the traditional collaborative process develops its
third member—that is, the member who is the sum of the whole and who
seems to guide the process while developing ideas that are beyond the
individual contributors’ capacities.
    4. Collaboration in large groups (roughly 25-n) is dependent upon
    Although social mediation is an inherent part of collaboration, when
applied in traditional face-to-face collaboration social mediation can
provide a barrier to the rapid and seamless integration of contributions
that characterises projects such as and the Open Source
software movement. It may be that there is simply so much complex
information to be negotiated when people communicate directly that the
negotiations of the many collapse under their own weight without the
mediation of an administrative/stigmergic system.
    This is not to say that social negotiation does not take place in
stigmergic collaborative contexts—it may even be essential to developing
the collaborative community—but rather that negotiation takes a back
seat in terms of the creative drafting process. Most (if not all)
stigmergic wiki collaborations have discussions associated with the
content being developed, but it is possible to contribute (to, for instance) without discussing what you are
contributing to or creating. Conversely, it is also possible to take
part in discussion without editing an article. Although such discussions
are most certainly an important and perhaps crucial form of
contribution, they are typically secondary to the objectives of the
overall project. For an example of a discussion accompanying mass
collaboration, see the Israel talk page at In addition to
such points of discussion, bulletin boards, IRC (chat) and e-mail lists
often support and augment the negotiation."

So, it is not surprising this general libreplanet email list faces more
challenges as it grows -- versus say, a small mailing list of a dozen
main posters supporting a specific free software project, where that
project is one of hundreds of mostly independent projects that make up

Or as Margaret Mead said: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing
that ever has."

Note that Mead said "small group". But her quote does not include the
idea that the positive efforts of small groups can connect to do larger
hopefully still-positive things -- although maybe that was implicit?

>From a design perspective, for example, I've speculated that one reason
Linus Torvalds developed a reputation for rudeness and invective on the
Linux kernel mailing list is because he is (unknowingly) continually
stressed out as a consequence of the fact that he chose a monolithic
kernel design over a microkernel design (Minix, QNX, etc.). A huge
monolithic kernel requires a lot more social coordination to keep
working well -- and it is not clear to me that any potential technical
performance advantages of a monolithic kernel these days still outweigh
the social and security disadvantages of a monolithic one where any
component can cause a security problem or system crash. A microkernel is
more compatible with stigmergic social processes. So, the idea of
modularity is something to keep in mind with any design process. Related
posts by me:

That's all part of why when I think about designing social software
these days, I think about facilitating small group interacting as well
as federation of small groups -- versus supporting some big social media
thing. Yet, everything has it limits and tradeoffs.

Related on designing social software and user rights as "tenants":
"A Group is Its Own Worst Enemy" by Clay Shirky
    Now you could ask whether or not the founders' inability to defend
themselves from this onslaught, from being overrun, was a technical or a
social problem. Did the software not allow the problem to be solved? Or
was it the social configuration of the group that founded it, where they
simply couldn't stomach the idea of adding censorship to protect their
system. But in a way, it doesn't matter, because technical and social
issues are deeply intertwined. There's no way to completely separate
them. What matters is, a group designed this and then was unable, in the
context they'd set up, partly a technical and partly a social context,
to save it from this attack from within. And attack from within is what
matters. Communitree wasn't shut down by people trying to crash or
syn-flood the server. It was shut down by people logging in and posting,
which is what the system was designed to allow. The technological
pattern of normal use and attack were identical at the machine level, so
there was no way to specify technologically what should and shouldn't
happen. Some of the users wanted the system to continue to exist and to
provide a forum for discussion. And other of the users, the high school
boys, either didn't care or were actively inimical. And the system
provided no way for the former group to defend itself from the latter.
Now, this story has been written many times. It's actually frustrating
to see how many times it's been written. You'd hope that at some point
that someone would write it down, and they often do, but what then
doesn't happen is other people don't read it. ...
    Writing social software is hard. And, as I said, the act of writing
social software is more like the work of an economist or a political
scientist. And the act of hosting social software, the relationship of
someone who hosts it is more like a relationship of landlords to tenants
than owners to boxes in a warehouse. The people using your software,
even if you own it and pay for it, have rights and will behave as if
they have rights. And if you abrogate those rights, you'll hear about it
very quickly.

One last quote, from Manuel De Landa's "Meshworks, Hierarchies, and
But even if we managed to promote not only heterogeneity, but diversity
articulated into a meshwork, that still would not be a perfect solution.
After all, meshworks grow by drift and they may drift to places where we
do not want to go. The goal-directedness of hierarchies is the kind of
property that we may desire to keep at least for certain institutions.
Hence, demonizing centralization and glorifying decentralization as the
solution to all our problems would be wrong. An open and experimental
attitude towards the question of different hybrids and mixtures is what
the complexity of reality itself seems to call for.

For example, Richard Stallman's "hierarchical" Copyleft GPL license was
an important early contribution as essentially a Chaordic Constitution
for "decentralized" collaboration -- producing an effective mixture
leading to GNU/Linux.

Related on the "Chaordic" idea of mixing "chaos" and "order":

Norms, rules, prices, and architecture are all ways of shaping human
behavior as Lawrence Lessig mentions in "Code 2.0". And like the GPL,
strong community norms are "hierarchical" in a sense -- yet are also
ways people find to work together. So, a mailing list probably can only
grow much past 25 people if somehow there are strong norms emerging in
it or reflected in it? Or it can only survive past that limit if some
other feature helps facilitate productive discussions -- whether
moderator-enforced rules, price/work-related restraint, or perhaps
innovative software application architecture such as maybe using IBIS
and Dialogue Mapping ( ) to reflect
discussion on  specific (modular) questions? Or some mix of all of those?

==== Summary

tl;dr: Kindness does not scale given human limitations -- but modularity
and some other ideas can hopefully help keep social kindness working in
various times and places, and the modules can hopefully link together
stigmergically into bigger and better networks (up to a point).

--Paul Fernhout (
"The biggest challenge of the 21st century is the irony of technologies
of abundance in the hands of those still thinking in terms of scarcity."

On 7/31/20 10:10 PM, quiliro wrote:
> This used to be [Practicality of GNU project and libre movement]. But
> since I was hijacking the thread and I did want to get more information
> about this, I made another thread. I did not put the usual [was: ...] on
> the subject to avoid making it too long.
> Miles Fidelman <> writes:
>> On 7/31/20 2:35 PM, quiliro wrote:
>>> Miles Fidelman <> writes:
>>>> Well... I mean that coddling folks who loudly, and authoritatively
>>>> pronounce bullshit - particularly when stated as fact - I say shoot it
>>>> down, loudly, and often.  (As opposed to canceling people,
>>>> "moderating" or otherwise censoring, or expelling people from groups.
>>>> I'm sorry, but I've come to favor bluntness over kindness, when
>>>> dealing with healthy adults.)
>>>> Miles Fidelman
>>> I am strongly in favour of using more sincerity, even if it is rude. i
>>> also advocate to also stop censorship that is targeted against this
>>> rudeness. It is better to have these sincerity with freedom of
>>> expression than to be kind and untruthful. But, can't we have sincerity
>>> _and_ kindness?
>> Good point.  But that starts to be a cultural thing.
>> I mean, those of us from NY tend to be rude, and just call bullshit,
>> bullshit.  Folks from the South tend to say things like "well isn't
>> that precious" -  but it still means "bullshit."  The Japanese are
>> pretty good at giving folks a way to "save face" - but then you're
>> expected to go out and kill yourself, before people call you on your
>> (grave) mistakes.  And then there are the French. :-)
>> In a design review, one can be polite, or call someone a moron - but
>> ultimately it comes down to pointing out something that's broken. 
>> Kind, might be providing a suggestion or a solution, and perhaps
>> phrasing it as "maybe you should consider doing <this> instead of
>> <that>" - but that's still putting someone on the spot, and presenting
>> as better or smarter.  There's really not that really "kind."
>> Now, if someone points at a perfectly good design, calls it crap, and
>> suggests something that's broken as an alternative - and then insists
>> on their correctness, leaning on their credentials as justification -
>> that person, IMO, deserves  extremely UNKIND treatment.
>> And, at some point it's hard to distinguish kindness from
>> participation trophies.
> I don't understand all of your statements because English is not my
> mother language. But 99% of them are clear to me.
> What I am not sure of is that "deserves [...] unkind treatment" (the
> uncapitalization is mine) would produce the desired results. Maybe
> someone would use being diplomatic in order to hide their attack on
> something or someone. But I think that assuming innocence is a good way
> to stop unjust accusations. I think that the attacks on Stallman were
> deliberate ways to raise the profile of someone that has no relevance on
> the news (as was the attacker's poor profile). But there is ample
> evidence of that. In this case, a lone message was enough to be sure?
> Was being blunt a good way to kill that sort of presumed hypocrisy?
> Would it bring the other people together for the dificult task of
> advocacy?
> I do agree like seeing someone is enraged at me, rather than
> diplomatically trick me into some scam. And I do support this attitude
> as a replacement for silence or trickery. But I do not see how people
> that are seduced by "kind communications" will understand they are
> better off when someone is sincere. That takes a lot of maturity.
> On the other hand, people who are affraid of hurting someone's feelings
> use this sort or strategy to avoid the opposite reaction they
> expect. Perhaps their intention is good and they are not sure of
> themselves enough to understand that the rudeness in reactions is not
> because of what they said, but because of the personal history of the
> hurt person. There are many possibilities.
> This is not an accusation against Miles. It is a discussion for my
> benefit (and others', if interested) about the false need to "be kind"
> as a replacement for direct sincere positions. Of course Tsun-tsu would
> disagree with me on this one. But I guess that war is not the place for
> community; or is it?

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