no good deed goes unpunished.

Periodically I search Usenet for recent references to xscreensaver; that's how I decide what needs to go into the FAQ, and it's also the way I often learn about bugs (since lots of people prefer post to their favorite group instead of asking me, which is just fine.)

So I saw this message on who-knows-what group with a changelog that listed patches that had been made to various programs in the Debian distribution. There was a patch to xscreensaver on that list that I didn't recognise, and a little searching around didn't provide any clues, so I sent a three sentence message to the author of the changelog post asking what that patch was, and where to find it. (I didn't expect that he wrote the patch, but I did assume he'd know where to find it.)

Instead of just answering my question (e.g., "the patch is here" or, if he were feeling generous, "the patch is here, and it's not what you think") he took the opportunity to be a gigantic flaming dick about it.

I should be used to this by now, I really should. I should come to expect this kind of behavior from the poorly-socialized nerds who populate the software world; after all, they were a significant part of what sucked about my previous career. But I'm not used to it. It still sucks. Every time I have to deal with some ankle-biting needledick like this guy I ask myself, "why is it that I'm bothering to release this software at all? This is alegedly rewarding in some way?"

Look at the kind of shit I have to put up with:

<LJ-CUT text=" --More--( 6%) ">


    Subject: xineramify_xscreensaver.diff?
    Date: Mon, 26 May 2003 02:36:35 -0700
    From: Jamie Zawinski <jwz@jwz.org>
    To: branden@debian.org

    You wrote:

    • debian/patches/000_stolen_from_HEAD_xineramify_xscreensaver.diff (new):
    • New patch from XFree86 HEAD to add Xinerama support to xscreensaver.

    Nobody has ever sent me such a patch for xscreensaver -- what does it do? (There has been Xinerama support in xscreensaver since, I think, 1998.)

    I poked around on debian.org, but I can't figure out if there exists any way to see the ways in which you've modified my program without actually installing Debian. Is there?

    Thanks,

    --
    Jamie Zawinski
    jwz@jwz.org http://www.jwz.org/
    jwz@dnalounge.com http://www.dnalounge.com/


    Subject: Re: xineramify_xscreensaver.diff?
    Date: Mon, 26 May 2003 14:35:36 -0500
    From: Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org>
    To: Jamie Zawinski <jwz@jwz.org>, Daniel Stone <daniels@kde.org>
    CC: debian-x@lists.debian.org

    [There was no need to mail me privately about this; the debian-x mailing list is a perfectly reasonable forum for such queries.]

    On Mon, May 26, 2003 at 02:36:35AM -0700, Jamie Zawinski wrote:

    • debian/patches/000_stolen_from_HEAD_xineramify_xscreensaver.diff (new):
    • New patch from XFree86 HEAD to add Xinerama support to xscreensaver.

    Nobody has ever sent me such a patch for xscreensaver -- what does it do? (There has been Xinerama support in xscreensaver since, I think, 1998.)

    I neither wrote this patch, nor am I the person who borrowed the changes in question from XFree86 CVS HEAD.

    I hadn't previously scrutinized this patch, but it appears to add Xinerama/"PanoramiX" support to the XScreenSaver protocol extension that is part of the Xext shared library, and has nothing to do with "xscreensaver", the application which is, I am given to understand by the prominent declarations all over it, written and copyrighted by you, Jamie Zawinski.

    It surprises me that you were apparently unaware that the string "xscreensaver" refers to more than just your own software. If that is true, you should probably also know that this determination of name was not made by the Debian Project, but, I believe, by the X Consortium a decade ago or more.

    I poked around on debian.org, but I can't figure out if there exists any way to see the ways in which you've modified my program without actually installing Debian. Is there?

    • The text you're quoting is a changelog entry from a Debian-format package that was never prepared for, or released to, the Debian distribution.
    • *I* haven't modified your program in any way. As far as I can tell from browsing the patch, it doesn't either. XFree86 and xscreensaver are separately packaged in the Debian Project, which only makes sense as they have different upstream sources. Perhaps Daniel Stone, who wrote the above entry, is confused about the nature of the patch, or did not explain it clearly enough.

    • When packages are actually part of the Debian distribution (whether the stable, testing, or unstable branches), their source code can be found via the query interface at: http://www.debian.org/distrib/packages

    The patch in question is attached. As you can see, it modifies only the source code of the XFree86 distribution.

    --
    G. Branden Robinson | Kissing girls is a goodness. It is
    Debian GNU/Linux | a growing closer. It beats the
    branden@debian.org | hell out of card games.
    http://people.debian.org/~branden/ | -- Robert Heinlein

    [ patch included here ]


    Subject: Re: xineramify_xscreensaver.diff?
    Date: Mon, 26 May 2003 14:01:27 -0700
    From: Jamie Zawinski <jwz@jwz.org>
    To: Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org>

    Branden Robinson wrote:

    [There was no need to mail me privately about this; the debian-x mailing list is a perfectly reasonable forum for such queries.]

    I'm not on the debian-x mailing list, nor was I even aware it existed; I saw your message on one of the billion Usenet mirrors that such announcements go to.

    I neither wrote this patch, nor am I the person who borrowed the changes in question from XFree86 CVS HEAD.

    Yours was, however, the only email address in the message I saw, so I didn't know who else to ask.

    It surprises me that you were apparently unaware that the string "xscreensaver" refers to more than just your own software.

    I am very well aware of that, but the concept of "adding Xinerama support to the X server" didn't make any more sense to me than "adding Xinerama support to the xscreensaver client", so given two confusing statements, I assumed the latter was the one that was meant.

    If that is true, you should probably also know that this determination of name was not made by the Debian Project, but, I believe, by the X Consortium a decade ago or more.


    FYI, the use of "xscreensaver" as the name of the client program predates its use as the name of a server extension by several years.

    • When packages are actually part of the Debian distribution (whether the stable, testing, or unstable branches), their source code can be found via the query interface at: http://www.debian.org/distrib/packages

    So it is. For what it's worth, I never would have found this by looking at debian.org. In fact, I still can't guess where it might be linked to from your Site Map page. Searching for "xscreensaver" doesn't find that, either.

    Thank you for the clarification about the patch, needlessly snide though it was. Not that I care, but what exactly did I do to warrant such an obnoxious response when I merely asked two very simple and direct questions? Are you always like this, or am I on your shit list already? As far as I can recall, we've never spoken before, but maybe it made a bigger impression on you than on me.

    --
    Jamie Zawinski
    jwz@jwz.org http://www.jwz.org/
    jwz@dnalounge.com http://www.dnalounge.com/


    Subject: Re: xineramify_xscreensaver.diff?
    Date: Mon, 26 May 2003 16:38:13 -0500
    From: Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org>
    Reply-To: debian-x@lists.debian.org
    To: Jamie Zawinski <jwz@jwz.org>
    CC: debian-x@lists.debian.org

    On Mon, May 26, 2003 at 02:01:27PM -0700, Jamie Zawinski wrote:

    Branden Robinson wrote:

    [There was no need to mail me privately about this; the debian-x mailing list is a perfectly reasonable forum for such queries.]

    I'm not on the debian-x mailing list, nor was I even aware it existed; I saw your message on one of the billion Usenet mirrors that such announcements go to.
    [...]
    Yours was, however, the only email address in the message I saw, so I didn't know who else to ask.

    If you read the message through a mail->news gateway, please identify which one to the debian-x mailing list, since it is obviously obscuring the source of the message and possibly other important information as well.

    It surprises me that you were apparently unaware that the string "xscreensaver" refers to more than just your own software.

    I am very well aware of that, but the concept of "adding Xinerama support to the X server" didn't make any more sense to me than "adding Xinerama support to the xscreensaver client", so given two confusing statements, I assumed the latter was the one that was meant.

    I don't know why it wouldn't make sense. X protocol extensions require support on both the X client and X server side, or they cannot be used.

    As a more recent example, code based on Keith Packard's RENDER extension consists of header files describing the protocol, a client-side library, and patches to the KDrive and XFree86 X servers so that they can understand and act on the protocol extension requests coming across the wire from the client.

    I feel certain that a man with as many years of experience writing X clients as you have has no difficulty with these concepts.

    So, it makes perfect sense to say "add Xinerama support to the X server"; X servers without support for the Xinerama protocol extension will not expose the features of that extension, and clients connecting to that server will be unable to take advantage of them.

    If that is true, you should probably also know that this determination of name was not made by the Debian Project, but, I believe, by the X Consortium a decade ago or more.

    FYI, the use of "xscreensaver" as the name of the client program predates its use as the name of a server extension by several years.

    I'll take your word for it; I also assume that since you claim prior awareness of the "MIT-SCREEN-SAVER"[1] extension, which has existed for many years, that you're not asserting trademark protection in the term.

    When packages are actually part of the Debian distribution (whether the stable, testing, or unstable branches), their source code can be found via the query interface at: http://www.debian.org/distrib/packages

    So it is. For what it's worth, I never would have found this by looking at debian.org. In fact, I still can't guess where it might be linked to from your Site Map page. Searching for "xscreensaver" doesn't find that, either.

    If you're having problems using the Debian website, I suggest clicking on the link at the bottom of most pages -- including the one to which I directed you -- which says "See the Debian contact page for information on contacting us." That links to: <http://www.debian.org/contact>, which has a link "Problems with Debian infrastructure".

    You would not be the first person to have recommendations for improving the Debian website, so I urge you to make those recommendations to the appropriate parties.

    Thank you for the clarification about the patch, needlessly snide though it was. Not that I care, but what exactly did I do to warrant such an obnoxious response when I merely asked two very simple and direct questions? Are you always like this, or am I on your shit list already? As far as I can recall, we've never spoken before, but maybe it made a bigger impression on you than on me.

    We have in fact corresponded before, and you were about as tiresomely dismissive then as now. I have grown accustomed to the likelihood that you ceaselessly search the web for mentions of your own name and waste little time contacting those who utter it. I could offer sincere suggestions for more productive uses of your time, but no doubt they would, as you note, leave a feeble impression on you. I doubt that much can compete with the reverence you feel when looking in the mirror. (Feel free to interpret that last statement as obsequious flattery if you like -- I suspect the intentions of the author have little impact on your interpretations.)

    In any case, this dialogue is fast becoming a waste of my own time, so kindly refrain from mailing me privately again. If you have further questions about Debian's packaging of XFree86, the best address to use is <debian-x@lists.debian.org>.

    [1] at least, that's what "xdpyinfo" calls it on my XFree86 installation

    --
    G. Branden Robinson | No math genius, eh? Then perhaps
    Debian GNU/Linux | you could explain to me where you
    branden@debian.org | got these... PENROSE TILES!
    http://people.debian.org/~branden/ | -- Stephen R. Notley


    Subject: Re: xineramify_xscreensaver.diff?
    Date: Mon, 26 May 2003 14:57:04 -0700
    From: Jamie Zawinski <jwz@jwz.org>
    To: debian-x@lists.debian.org

    Branden Robinson wrote:

    If you read the message through a mail->news gateway, please identify which one to the debian-x mailing list, since it is obviously obscuring the source of the message and possibly other important information as well.

    Well, you know, I was *going* to go search for it again help you, but then you continued to act like an asshole for no reason, so you can just go search for it yourself.

    What is your fascination with non sequitur bitching about trademarks and copyrights? No, don't answer that, I don't care.

    I don't know why it wouldn't make sense. X protocol extensions require support on both the X client and X server side, or they cannot be used.

    The reason it doesn't make sense is that support for Xinerama had been added to both programs many, many years ago -- as evidenced by the fact that it works at all. That changelog would have made plenty of sense in 1997, but not in 2003.

    In any case, this dialogue is fast becoming a waste of my own time, so kindly refrain from mailing me privately again.

    Consider it done. Please choke on a bucket of cocks. Thank you.

    --
    Jamie Zawinski
    jwz@jwz.org http://www.jwz.org/
    jwz@dnalounge.com http://www.dnalounge.com/





UPDATE: Hello to all my fanboys joining us from Debian Weekly News! If you have any comments about this, please mail them to me here.

Tags: , , , , ,

82 Responses:

  1. pexor says:

    I particularly appreciate that, in spite of his obvious dislike for you, he still asks you to do him/Debian/someone a favor and notify lists and advise on site improvements.

    "You're a jerk. Can I borrow twenty bucks?"

  2. che_fox says:

    Jamie, don't feel bad. Branden's single-handedly managed to piss off more free software developers than anyone other than RMS himself. He might even eventually manage to kill off the Debian project himself.

    I used to be pretty proud I was a Debian developer. Branden has personally and on several occasions taken and stomped on any joy I ever had in expending effort towards making Debian a better product.

    Not much you can do -- this must be one of those life lessons everyone needs to learn, how to deal with crotchety powermongers who wield their fearsome Unix knowledge like it's some kind of wooden sword at an SCA joust tournament or something.

    • jwz says:

      But see, the point is, it's not like this guy is unique in this respect, or even unusual. I'm just using him as an example. He's more the rule than the exception in this pathetic little world of which I can't seem to finally-and-truly wash my hands.

      • dingodonkey says:

        And it spreads like a disease. I know somebody who recently decided to start releasing "open source software," claiming that he's spitting in the face of big companies with a big stupid grin of superiority on his own face. And man, what an assface he (and several others I've talked to) can be when it comes to the superiority of his software.

        And then they sit down and figure out enough of the nonsensical clusterfuck of UNIX/Linux/Flavour-of-the-Week to get by and think they know everything, and that's when they reach the point where they cannot be cured, they will be cockfarmers for life.

        No, I'm not bitter, not at all.

    • omni_ferret says:

      Yeah, it's potentially off-topic:

      Thanks for working on Debian. I'm pretty fond of it.

  3. substitute says:

    That guy is famous for this behavior. He's a kind of village maniac.

    I get hideous psychotic flames frequently when I submit bug reports to Debian, and their irc channel on freenode is dominated by rage-filled losers who barely qualify for outpatient status. I like Debian as software a lot but the social quality of the project is abysmal. Frankly I think mass nonconsensual psychiatric care is called for, perhaps through the criminal justice system. You are not alone in your shock. Loved your last note.

    • kraig says:

      It's not just Debian, it seems to be pretty much any large open source project. Probably most large closed source ones too, except they keep their dirty laundry where we can't see it.

    • I admit my folly. Years ago, I had a couple of months to kill when I was telecommuting part-time, so I tried to sign up as a Debian developer with the goal of writing documentation - particularly, working on their system administrator's guide.

      They screwed me around for *months* with their developer application process, and despite bleating incessantly about how they really wished someone would write documentation, made it basically impossible for someone to do any.

      I reached the same conclusion as others: Debian software's OK, but stay the hell away from their development community!

      K.

      • reddragdiva says:

        Do you have your Debian experience written up anywhere? I've told others about it when decrying the amount of hoop-jumping required to contribute to M*z*lla (contributions being inversely proportional to hoop-jumping having been mentioned somewhere in the book version of Cathedral and the Bazaar, but something simple and linkable would be useful.

        • No, I don't have it written up anywhere definitive. And I didn't keep the emails so I can't really reconstruct it from original sources. Trying to reconstruct it from memory at this point would probably lead to gross inaccuracies... I'm sure the story has grown and mutated each time I tell it.

    • billemon says:

      Mind if I lift the phrase "mass nonconsensual psychiatric care" for future use?

      LOL best one I've heard in a while.

    • fvinnash says:

      Of course you loved his last note - it had nothing to do with his question or the issue in question; it was only a last jab at Branden in the hopes of getting him angrier. It amazes me that you can write how horrible the psychotic flames you frequently receive are, but can cheer on other psychotic flames.

      • substitute says:

        Point taken. jwz wasn't helping with his jab. I don't send flames like that myself. I just thought his was funny as well as being mean and nasty.

        And in a larger sense you're right; we like to see people being nasty when it's "on our side" and not when it's attacking us. I do think, though, that the person answering bug report mail for a software project has a greater responsibility to be polite and professional than the possibly clueless newbie sending in the report.

        I've done "customer facing" support and service work before. You take abuse and don't give it back, even if you're a volunteer. People who can't rise to that challenge are going to get a lot worse than jwz gave Branden, and they're going to deserve it.

  4. baconmonkey says:

    secretly, he wishes he could sell beer.

    • billemon says:

      ... or was one of the best known free software developers ever:)

    • js7a says:

      I suppose people with scheudenfrude enjoy this kind of thing, but I feel sorry for both of them. Jamie, trying to support live music by selling liquid depressants -- why isn't that missing the whole point? Branden, with his wife in a wheelchair. Both unable to let perceived slights go without escalation. Since when did making fun of anyone other than ones self become worthwhile?

      Is there any truth to the rumor that good manners make life easier?

  5. jenk says:

    Gee, this reminds me of some of the internal email I'd see working on..um..any sw project I've worked on ;)

    I can always tell the open-source advocaters who don't know anything about a fair-sized sw project team. I say, "Sure, open-source works - if you have a bunch of coders who care about the project and can avoid pissing each other off too much". If they laugh and agree, they have a clue. If they start arguing about how interpersonal conficts could *never* harm a project, that's my cue to walk away.

    • jmaynard says:

      Thanks. I've been wondering why my open source project doesn't devolve into the kind of flamage that seems to bedevil so many others. I think you've put your finger on it: the project team cares about getting it right, and respects each other enough to not let any personal differences show. (I'm not sure there are any, they do that so well.)

  6. recursive says:

    I guess when a project needs to have a written Social Contract, that's a sign that those involved with the project lack social skills.

    It's sad to see that sort of thing though. I really like Debian, technically.

    • yakko says:

      It's sad to see that sort of thing though. I really like Debian, technically.

      Funny how I have that same feeling about OpenBSD and Theo. . .

      Oh well, to save space, I should say xscreensaver is one piece of software I actually enjoy updating every release. :o)

    • jwz says:

      I tried to explain to <lj user="rzr_grl"> what Debian was, and the best I could come up with was that they're like the Radical Fundamentalist nutjob faction of Linux: people for whom Red Hat is insufficiently extremist. At this point she looks at me as if to say, ``you mean the nutjobs have their own nutjobs??'' I suspect she thought I was making the whole thing up.

      • federico says:

        The nutjobs have their own nutjobs. And those nutjobs have their own nutjobs, too, and so on ad infinitum.

        • ciphergoth says:

          To one side of you, the sheep, who follow the crowd no matter what the technical or social cost. To the other, the nutjobs, iconoclasts for the sake of it who actively dislike convenience. Who is in which camp depends on whether you like Windows, MacOS, Red Hat, Debian, or if you're Stallman.

          I think your greenhouse needs some panes replaced.

          • shazdeh says:

            OMG I'm posting in jwz's LJ! You rock! That Debian guy is clearly off his rocker and trying to start fires.

            [Extended baseball analogy to illustrate previous point.]

  7. brad says:

    Dear god... Branden vs. jwz. What a great netfight.

    You guys are actually very similar. (you both hate everything and everybody)

    • patrick says:

      hehe. jwz is so much more interesting, though.

    • ralesk says:

         Point! *laughs*

    • ioerror says:

      friend: i like how, when the going gets tough, jwz is always one for taking the high road :)
      friend: "what-the-fuck-ever"
      friend: "dick."
      friend: "please choke on a bucket of cocks"
      ioerror: I loved that quote!
      friend: i mean, he's really not one to critisize immature nerds for having no tact though
      ioerror: Yea I am going to quote you on that in a second
      friend: hey you can't quote me!
      friend: this is AIM! I claim packet injection!

      I find this to be amusing, any comments on it?

      For what it's worth, I find your responses to be just fine given what a fucking dick head that guy is.

      • jwz says:

        It's not so much "when the going gets tough" as "when the conversation is over." I've moved on, you see: the "trying to actually communicate with the guy" phase has ended. This is the "making fun of him" phase.

  8. fo0bar says:

    I have grown accustomed to the likelihood that you ceaselessly search the web for mentions of your own name and waste little time contacting those who utter it.

    I know *I* make sure I mention jwz in at least every other sentence in public posts, for this very reason. I just pretty much assumed everyone else did too.

    • _lj_sucks_ says:

      I know *I* make sure I mention jwz in at least every other sentence in public posts, for this very reason.

      Yes, it's de rigeur, along with mentioning James Kibo Parry.

  9. jwz says:

    Oh, also, maybe not all of you noticed his sig file with the fucking Heinlein quote! (I wonder if he's ever actually, you know, kissed a girl?)

    • kiad says:

      You piqued my curiosity. I wondered if perhaps, he really did live with his mother. Still possible, but, according to his Debian Project Leader platform, he is "28 years old, employed as a free software developer, married, and have no children." So, perhaps he kissed his wife when they were married, but perhaps he is waiting for something else before he has sex?

      Well, I looked into that too. Apparently she is in a wheelchair. Or it is a joke. I can't tell.

      > Will you be at the next linux.conf.au in Perth, January 2003?

      It sounds interesting. If so I'd better start thinking about getting my passport soon. Is the site wheelchair-accessible? I could hardly go and leave my wife behind. :)

      So. Perhaps we all now know way more than we've ever wanted to know about some Debian dork.

  10. edm says:

    Look at the kind of shit I have to put up with

    Look at the kind of shit Branden Robinson has to put up with :-)

    From what I've seen elsewhere your messages were well down the mild side of the mail Branden gets from time to time. I'm not exactly surprised he doesn't have much of a "bedside manner" left any more. (I'm not exactly surprised you don't have much of a "bedside manner" left any more either, given "jwz versus the net" over the years.)

    FWIW, you can check on the current patches Debian are applying against xscreensaver via this page:

    http://packages.debian.org/unstable/x11/xscreensaver.html

    That's for the "unstable distribution" which is where all the development is done, so it should stay moderately close to current. (There's a link near the bottom which will give you both the original tar file they're basing it on, as well as the Debian patches.) (Link found via the search form off the "Debian Packages" link on the Debian home page.)

    Oh, and I agree the Debian website is somewhat suboptimal. In fact from what I could tell of the exchange you quoted, so does Branden. He just can't do anything about it without other people at the project being convinced of that too.

    • jwz says:

      Look at the kind of shit Branden Robinson has to put up with :-)

      Oh please. Did we read the same messages? I'm so not interested in hearing you make excuses for this twerp. I've never even heard of the guy before, so I don't give a shit about his "job", his history, or even Debian for that matter; I asked a simple question and he started foaming at the mouth. What-the-fuck-ever.

  11. sachmet says:

    Please choke on a bucket of cocks. Thank you.

    There's more than one person that's emailed me about things I've done that I would have loved to email that to. Kudos!

    • _lj_sucks_ says:

      Presumably a reference to the recent Debian "choke on a bucket of cocks" bug, another indication of Debian developers' maturity and social skills.

      My first major run-in with Debian assholishness was watching the Ruby developers try to work with them to fix the brokenness of Ruby in Debian. As someone using both Ruby and Debian, I wanted to try and persuade the Debian maintainers to work with the Ruby developers to come up with a way of packaging stuff such that you could apt-get install ruby and have something that wasn't broken. Unfortunately, the word "compromise" did not appear to be in their vocabulary.

      And if you want to see some real assholes, there are some in the Rails community who make the debian devs look like diplomats.

      Anyway, I think an appropriate response to the original e-mail would have been "It's a patch to X.org, it's nothing to do with xscreensaver." In fact, the second paragraph from Branden said almost exactly that. The problem is he larded it up with snark and added all the other paragraphs.

      • jwz says:

        You don't appear to have noticed that you're replying to a thread from MAY 2003.

        Let it go, man. It's over.

        • _lj_sucks_ says:

          I don't see what's particularly time-dependent about it, unless the situation has improved recently.

          I guess I was giving you too much credit for the bucket of cocks reference though.

  12. cetan says:

    The guy is an ass, for certain. More than likely after he sent the email his mom brought him a PB&J and some milk. However, you got his email and then you asked for seconds.

    Whenever I get nasty-grams like that (which is rare) I simply delete and move on. Did you really, honestly /have/ to respond and move into the basement with him?

  13. zoratu says:

    "xscreensaver", the application which is, I am given to understand by the prominent declarations all over it, written and copyrighted by you, Jamie Zawinski.

    It reads of supremely jealousy.

    You get major karma points for ankle-biting needledick and choke on a bucket of cocks.

  14. vulpine137 says:

    Well, on behalf of us semi-socialized nerds, thanks for writing and maintaining the software. And thanks for the ideas on email commentary *still laughing at "Consider it done. Please choke on a bucket of cocks. Thank you" and wanting to use it in his admin emails to mailing lists*

    Vulpine

  15. Your first email is ambiguous. Your intent is not at all
    clear. Without the explanation you provided in this LJ, I would
    have had little idea why you were asking, and the tone of it is
    "curt". If I were predisposed to like you, I'd describe it with
    words like "concise" or "functional". If I were predisposed to
    dislike you, I'd describe it with words like "brusque" or
    "unfriendly". If I don't know anything about you in particular,
    my interpretation of it would be colored by my general belief
    about other people, whether "people are generally pricks" or
    "people are generally nice" is the better description of the
    world for me. Even without strong feelings either way, it's not
    hard to interpret your message as "a little prickly, possibly
    hostile".

    In Branden's response, other than the bits of overt hostility,
    his tone is strikingly similar to yours. From reading this
    exchange (and having a good understanding of what you're both
    talking about), my impression is that you're both "technically
    competent but difficult to work with", which is a polite way of
    saying you're both arrogant pricks.

    Most people who become successful adults are "polite" and
    "cooperative". They're predisposed to like people in general,
    and they'll tolerate a little prickliness, especially when you
    have skills they value. Arrogant person says "Here!" and
    thrusts a working widget in polite person's face. The polite
    person says "Thank you" and smiles. Everyone's happy, progress
    marches on.

    Things don't work so when two arrogant pricks butt into each
    other. The hostility just escalates. It's fun to watch.

    The subtext I get from both of your messages is something
    like, "I'm being perfectly clear. If you don't
    understand me, you must be an idiot, so let me spell things out
    that should be obvious if you weren't an idiot." Which is
    condescending and just makes things worse.

    And yes, I'm also an arrogant prick. Feel free to blast
    away.

    • I disagree. JWZ may have been terse in his email, however the other guy was a complete arrogant prick who has obviously got some kind of problem. I also can't help but wonder if he wasn't trolling.

      • fzou says:

        however the other guy was a complete arrogant prick who has obviously got some kind of problem

        Oh come on. The bigger dick is always on the other side of fence? Did you even check before you came to your opinion? Did you need to check your wallet to make sure your fanboy membership card hadn't expired yet?

        Branden may be an asshole, but at least he doesn't rush to his blog to demonstrate how angry he is, how correct he is, and how great he is. But it's so much easier these days for the alleged victor to write the history of the communication as they wish. A shame. A CRYING SHAME. DEAR LORD WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

        • jwz says:

          Excuse me, how am I "writing history as I wish"? I posted the unedited messages! Draw your own conclusions like I did.

          Oh, sorry, I guess I should have my blog entries peer reviewed before forcing them on you in this inappropriate way.

          What a shame.

        • You're a dick too.

    • The key phrase there being "other than the bits of overt hostility".

    • fvinnash says:

      You know, grayscalewolf, I can't agree with you more. I've had the fortune of speaking with a few Debian developers (of which my husband is one as well) and they really are just people, too. And they get defensive - just like jwz was (overly so, if you ask me). And - he did ask what he did to get on Branden's bad side. That, in of itself, is asking for trouble.

      Quite frankly, I get along great with Branden. Perhaps that's because when I ask him a question, I'm quite polite and patient with him. You do, afterall, catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. But, perhaps jwz's intention is to come across as an arrogant jackass and expected Branden to fall head over heels for him and kiss up. Sorry to say, Branden's far too busy and far too arrogant himself to do that to ANYONE, let alone someone who's apparently annoyed him in the past. =)

      My suggestion to jwz is to get over it. Branden's not going to take the project down (or ruin it) because he's highly aggressive towards people, and he's not going to stop being highly aggressive towards people regardless of how much they complain. Perhaps being polite is the best option in any case.

      Cheers!

      • beerfrick says:

        I've also known many people who are pricks when online and nice people when in person.

        I guess it's like that because in real life being a prick could mean getting a free punch in the mouth.

        I also noticed that with such people I tend to be more tolerant with their online persona after I meet them. Gives me a different perspective.

        However, that also makes me wary of their real personality, which is revealed online.

      • hepkitten says:

        Are you not also a girl? Deny it or not, but that makes a world of difference in how a male poorly socialized geek is going to respond to you. So how said poorly socialized geek responds to you really doesn't apply in the context of this discussion.

      • jfpoole says:

        Maybe I'm daft, but wasn't jwz polite in the first place? "Hi! What does this do? Thanks!" is considered fairly polite where I come from. Maybe Debian developers require a tribute of some kind that I'm not familiar with....

  16. retrodiva1 says:

    While I am not familiar with the subject matter in your e-mails I can sympathcize with your irritation.

    My personal favorite is "poorly-socialized nerds who populate the software world". Loved that line. I can totally visualize.

  17. jwz says:

    I think all of you are missing a few key points here.

    In my first message, I was just asking a simple question. Then he was a dick.

    In my second message (in addition to addressing the weird complaints he made about me having sent him mail in the first place) I said to him, "you know, you're being a dick, why is that?" I knew this was unlikely to accomplish much, but I think it's a good idea to point out to people when they're being a dick, or have body odor, or whatever. They will always defensively deny it, of course, but sometimes it will sink in and they won't do it next time.

    Then he spooged some more, and my third message, and this LJ post, had moved firmly into the phase of "now I'm going to make fun of him, because ridiculing jackasses is fun for the whole family!" Or, as I said earlier: I've moved on: the "trying to actually communicate with the guy" phase has ended. This is the "making fun of him" phase.

    God, I'm so misunderstood!

    The only thing more surprising to me than all the people coming to this guy's defense is that this thread has gone on for so long at all.

    • lhooqtius says:

      All the GNU people I've ever tried to deal with have managed to be
      both dicks and mooches at the same time. I prefer contributing to the
      free porn sites instead.

    • nothings says:

      When somebody above posted that your original message was ambiguous in tone, I went back and looked at it, and yeah, it was. It's vaguely possible it could have been written by an annoyed snotty jackass who wanted to know who's messing with his prized intellectual property... well, until you get to the 'Thanks', which I don't think is at all consistent with anything other than a 'hi, I was just wondering' sort of tone.

      And yeah, he seemed surprisingly vitriolic, you asked in your special way, and he replied with that most idiotic of all responses, 'do not email me at this address again'. No surprise what followed.

      So yeah, it seems obvious to me, but then again I'm not really all that surprised at the response.

      Hmm, I have no clue why I'm going to bother to hit the post comment button here. Oh well.

    • elleseule says:

      The guy had a far too strong reaction to your first email, he is pissed off with something you are not responsible for. Why bother saving his life telling him he is being a dick? He is probably not even prepared to hear that, say less from you. There's little to do with these people but giving up from the beginning.

      I think it's a good idea to point out to people when they're being a dick, or have body odor, or whatever. They will always defensively deny it, of course, but sometimes it will sink in and they won't do it next time.

      Even though, isn't it also that you are too proud to allow being treated that way without answering back?

      • Or perhaps JWZ is more sly and forward thinking than that and realized from his first message how this exchange was going to play out, and looked forward to the opportunity to call this guy out and make him look like an ass?

        *Evil laugh*

    • Thats the same read I had on it. I find it impossible to let crap like that go. Like earlier when that guy called me a fan boy, the least I could do was call him a dick.

      The length of the thread makes since, theres pleanty of room for differing takes on the situation.

  18. violentbloom says:

    what you need to write is an app to take the email address of assholes and search out known spammers and add their name to it automatically.

    much better than wasting your breath on someone who's just being a jerk because he's jealous no one likes his stupid company and he hasn't been in time magazine.

    ra

  19. womble2 says:

    So, in short, you can't read a changelog (contributors' email addresses are at the bottom of each list in the log), and you can't read a diff (- means removed)...

    • jwz says:

      You'll find my nuts require extra service today.

    • _lj_sucks_ says:

      Based on taking 2 minutes to do a couple of Google searches, here's the page I believe jwz chanced upon.

      Perhaps you could indicate where it shows that something was removed? It looks to me like someone added $Id$ to the comments of the patch.

      As to contributors' email addresses being listed, I don't see them. Just the list address and Branden's address. I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask what branches/4.3.0/sid/debian/patches/000_stolen_from_HEAD_xineramify_xscreensaver.diff is and whether it does anything to xscreensaver.

      Sure, the line diff -urN xc.orig/programs/Xserver/Xext/panoramiX.c xc/programs/Xserver/Xext/panoramiX.c suggests a modification to the X server, but that change could be part of a set of changes fixing some incompatibility between xscreensaver and the X server. Which, given that they both supported Xinerama already, is at least a plausible hypothesis, right?

  20. jack_cuervo says:

    Uh. That jerk is now apparently the Debian project leader. (A Slashdot AC was kind enough to point this out.)

    When will people learn that democracy doesn't work? :P