[wellylug] off-topic whining

nic nic at tymar.com
Tue Sep 15 15:01:27 NZST 2009

I'm more inclined to be friendly with people when I know where they stand on issues like 
sexist language. By extension, therefore, the topic _does_ belong on this list, at least 
for me. And to throw more contention in: The same thing goes for advertising (within 
reason) on the list: it's a way of making contact with people that might lead to 
friendship, and hence, by that part of the charter, advertising (as I've seen it on the 
list) _does_ fit.

Is it time for a review of the charter, and if so, what is the process to go through?


Daniel Pittman wrote:
> Callum Grant <callum.el.grant at gmail.com> writes:
>> I think that there is a time and a place for discussing things like this, I
>> really do, but that place is not on this list as I feel that it distracts
>> from this point in the charter "* To have a good time, meet other people and
>> to make friends." - point being that arguing doesn't help you to make
>> friends
> I have been thinking about this for a while now, before responding.  I am in
> agreement with your statement, more or less, in that argument (and especially
> heated argument) doesn't win friends or influence people.
> I can't agree with your conclusion, though, because it has an assumption that
> isn't accurate.
> Specifically, you assume that if the issue of sexism (or bias, or whatever)
> isn't discussed on the list then everyone will "have a good time".
> Which, sadly, isn't true.  The reason I made the comment in the first place
> was that I, personally, am not comfortable with the language being used.
> It wasn't that I think women are suffering, and should be championed, or that
> I was imagining some hypothetical other reader being upset.
> I commented because /I/ don't like the language that I feel is exclusionary,
> and it makes me uncomfortable to be around it.
> I commented, also, because I think that just gritting my teeth and ignoring
> it, or leaving, are not effective ways to deal with the problem.
> So, if the rule you suggest above is put in place — no discussion of sexism,
> because it upsets people — then what do I do?
> Do I decide to grit my teeth, to be unhappy, and to live with the change?
> That, I think, is incompatible with the point in the charter.  Certainly, it
> doesn't work to make me happy.
> It also works against that point in the charter: now I have to ask, before
> every post, "is there too much discussion of sexism" in the message?
> I have to wonder what /else/ fits on that list.  Do I have to ask myself is
> there too much discussion of Christianity in this message?  What about other
> potentially sensitive topics, like sexuality, or economics, or whatever?
>> If we keep this list purely for GNU/Linux and not having arguments about
>> what essentially are "political" topics, (which you should check at the door
>> when you contribute) this list will become as fantastic and useful as it
>> always has been.
> So, no politics on the list.  No discussion of the GNU manifesto, then?
> No discussion of FOSS adoption in business, or GPL violations, or encouraging
> students to see beyond the Microsoft world they are taught at school?
> No discussion of DRM, or user rights, or legal issues around patents, or
> click-wrap licenses?
> I don't know about you, but for me a lot of the FOSS movement *is* about
> politics.  Heck, GNU is a *political* movement that surrounds technical
> issues.  FOSS is inherently a political movement.
> Even skipping that, you are assuming that we all agree on what is a
> "political" topic and what isn't.
> For example, is a discussion of FOSS adoption in India, or Africa, a political
> topic?
> What if it starts to include discussion of why FOSS projects don't account for
> the requirements of those locales?  Does it jump the line when it crosses over
> into a discussion of how to encourage developers from those regions to join a
> project to improve the situation?
> These are not hypothetical examples, by the way: discussion of the OLPC
> project on other LUGs has included these areas of discussion, and I can't
> imagine it is hard for y'all to imagine a more local version of the same sort
> of issue, eh?
> Now, just to be absolutely clear: if the list charter is about technical
> discussion, or is changed to make it all about technical discussion, or to
> forbid these topics, that is fine.[1]
> I just think you will have a terrible time trying to write up the rules that
> we can use to draw that distinction, because there *is* no simple line between
> what you call "political" topics, and what you don't, in my opinion. ;)
> Regards,
>         Daniel
> Footnotes: 
> [1]  Well, I won't like it, but y'know what I mean. :)

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