[TAG] Ya know, I've changed my mind.
Benjamin A. Okopnik
ben at linuxgazette.net
Fri Nov 4 23:37:53 MSK 2005
On Fri, Nov 04, 2005 at 05:28:17PM -0000, Mike Orr wrote:
> > On Wed, Nov 02, 2005 at 08:11:19PM -0800, Mike Orr wrote:
> >> The list is primarily for question-answerers, but
> >> we have occasionally encouraged Linux newbies who might be answerers
> >> later to subscribe, to improve their own knowledge. But that was before
> >> the number of questions went down and the number of off-topic threads
> >> went up. Is there a feasable way to make people demonstrate they know
> >> what the list is for and are prepared to be compatible with it before
> >> their subscription is approved?
> > [blink] Aren't you the guy who wanted the Lgang archives opened to the
> > public because "we shouldn't keep any secrets from the community"? You
> > might not like this much, but good old Bruce is part of that community.
> > He's one of the people who receives the product of our efforts.
> There's a difference between asking for a minor test of competence and
> goodwill vs having a closed cabal running the show.
Errr... define competence, please. Do we make the new people do the
equivalent of solving a quadratic equation? What about newbies who
_don't_ know anything about Linux? You can't test for intent, and until
you can, trying to fake it creates nothing but problems.
> "You get in if you
> meet a (minimal) requirement" is different than "You get in if we say you
> get in, bwahahahaha!" (Said by two mafia types in expensive suits
> guarding the door.) The latter is not necessarily fatal to open-source
> development, but it does go against the spirit.
Which is, of course, why e.g. Guido Van Rossum lets everybody and
anybody make decisions about the direction in which Python should go
(NOT!) _Guido_ stands at the door and doesn't let anybody in unless they
pass his sniff test. Care to comment on that?
> Of course, this gets into
> our differing views of LG, which we've already discussed. (Me focusing on
> the community-built aspect of LG and noting the current editors came from
> the readership (the editors are trustees for the readers); you focusing on
> it's editor-designed nature (the editors make the zine).)
If that's the impression I've fostered in your mind, then I sincerely
apologize: it's completely wrong in fact and in practice. Let me try
again: LG was created by, is operated by, depends on, and cannot survive
without  a *core group* of people who put in the work. The work is
done *for the benefit of* the rest of the Linux community, but the
definition of that benefit, the expression of the work, and work itself
are determined by that core group.
We are not "trustees" for the readers, because the readers have given us
nothing in trust: it is 100% /quid pro quo/. Nobody has voted us into a
position of power in which we can destroy a resource created by the
public (the usual political definition of "trustee", stripped of the
pretty crapola.) We provide a service to them, and they spend their time
reading LG because we do something that is useful to them. Will they, in
that notional "trust", continue to read LG if we publish random garbage?
I seriously doubt it.
By the way, I notice from our past exchanges on this that you seem to
consider authors as part of the community outside the LG core group. I
see them as non-voting shareholders with a conversion option: they can
always join the staff and contribute their opinions. The requirement is
simple: "show me the work!" If, say, David Richardson had never read LG
in his life but had heard that we needed a proofer and decided to pitch
in, would his contribution be any less valuable? David doesn't say much
on the list, but I value his work greatly; his opinions are always
welcome, and carry weight - he contributes.
I'm not trying to slight anyone, but authority without responsibility is
a system with no feedback. Those who do not contribute do not run LG.
 A required but not sufficient condition, of course, and perhaps at
the core of our disagreement about this: any business falls apart
without customers, and LG would fall apart without readers. So what?
Customers do not _create_ a business, nor do they _run_ it; they
patronize it or not, based on the value that it produces for them. Any
viewpoint that ignores the work that goes into creating and running a
business - or an open-source effort like LG - and holds that some
barely-defined "community" is responsible for the success of that effort
is a dead letter before it starts, at least with me. I watched the
application of that one for the first third of my life, and am about the
_last_ person in the world to grant it any validity.
* Ben Okopnik * Editor-in-Chief, Linux Gazette * http://linuxgazette.net *
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