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Re: GNUism in groff tests, was: pic anomalies

From: G. Branden Robinson
Subject: Re: GNUism in groff tests, was: pic anomalies
Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2020 17:54:24 +1100
User-agent: NeoMutt/20180716

At 2020-01-03T14:09:46+0100, Ingo Schwarze wrote:
[what senior engineers should and should not be doing]
> This seems excessively strict to me.

Yes, in retrospect I was trying on a somewhat exaggerated position for

> Yes, i know rms@ is no longer writing much new code nowadays.

Not the example I was looking toward!  While I admire RMS's expertise in
many areas, he seems to struggle with playing a mentor's role, and I
find that, even from a non-exaggerated position, to be an essential
function of a senior engineer in a workplace or volunteer community.

> Of course everybody (including juniors) participates in code review,
> and the seniors do not behave like rockstar code cowboys.  In fact,
> the seniors are among the most zealous when it comes to reviewing and
> polishing legacy codebases.

There's a lot I like about the way the *BSDs work, but as a devoted
copyleftist I don't think I can find a home there.

> Incidentally, the worst rockstar code cowboy i ever had to deal
> with in the industy was quite a young man (oops - i almost mentioned
> the name; he also contributed marginally to some free software
> projects).  So it's more a matter of the attitude of project members
> and the climate in the project/company than of seniority.

Oh, _absolutely_.  Could not agree more.

> Consequently, i wouldn't object at all to Doug writing some come
> for groff, if he wanted to.  ;-)

Oh, hell yeah.  If I could get Doug to Signed-off-by: a patch of mine,
I'd print that out and frame it.  :)

[management as the problem]
> Of course that brush is broad; there are some individual managers
> who have more and some who have less of a conscience (and of technical
> competence).  But it's not so far off the mark in so far as you
> *can* regard "management" as the personification of the *structural*
> effects that are actually causing the problem.  As long as society
> is organized around making profit and around owning personal property
> rather than around sutainablity and cooperation, many consumers
> will be forced to look more closely at the price tag than at the
> quality (if they even manage to get the education to understand
> what the latter is - chances are their education already taught
> them to hurry and scramble more than anything else), and producers
> will suffer from a pressure to get some results (or too often: any
> results whatsoever) as fast as possible to sell them and start
> making money.

I never thought I could agree with you this much.  :P

> Hom much does spending the last 90% of work to get the last 10% of
> quality contribute to the success of an *average* company, really,
> on current markets?

I don't think 90% of the effort is dedicated to getting the last 10% of
_quality_--it's dedicated to extracting 10% more _economic rent_.

A little while back I discovered the Arrow-Debreu theorem[1] and I have
marvelled at the power of its application, at least in rebutting the
assumptions of neoclassical/laissez-faire capitalists.  Unfortunately
the Wikipedia article is not very accessible.  I can't find the link
which switched the light on for me right now, but I will search again.

(Essentially, market equilibria are taken for granted by
neoclassical/capitalist economics.  And while such equilibria are
possible, so far they can only be _proven_ to exist under highly
restricted conditions which almost never obtain in real economies.  It
turns out that loosening these conditions is how one really makes
serious money in practice: you practice anticompetitive behavior, ignore
negative externalities, extract rents, commit fraud, and so forth.  All
of these are way easier than beating the competition on quality or
price.  That's for suckers.)

> Anyway, in a project like groff, we do have the freedom to review
> and polish legacy code, to build unit tests if we want to, and to
> develop new features in a sustainable way...

Yes!  I should probably get back to my (volunteer) work soon and correct
some more of my embarrassing mistakes.  :-O



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