May 20, 2014

KDE Community: be liberal with ourselves, be harsh with others

by orzel
Categories: Admin, Gentoo, KDE
Tags: , , , , ,
Comments: 6 Comments

(yes, the title is a tribute to the robustness principle)

 

Censored

In quite an aggressive move, I’ve been censored by KDE. My blog has been removed from kdeplanet.  The only information I have so far is a mail (and this):

SVN commit 1386393 by jriddell:

Disable Thomas Capricelli's blog for breaching Planet KDE guidelines
CCMAIL:orzel@xxxxx

They not only removed me from planet, but also removed my previous post to appear on planetkde.org. It was still displayed two days ago but is not anymore.

This is typical of how KDE handles critics since KDE 4.0 mess or Nepomuk/Baloo stuff. Denying and being rude. There are lot of points here I’m shocked with :

  • They didn’t tell me beforehand before banning me.
  • They do not explain which content offend them. Granted, it’s very much probably my recent post, but there’s no official statement about it.
  • They do not explain in which way I’ve broken the “Planet KDE guidelines”. I would be really interested in this.
  • Actually, I googled for “kdeplanet guidelines” and “Planet KDE guidelines” and could not find anything.

My entry was posted on may 3rd, but because of some technical problem only appeared on planetkde on may 6th. Few hours later I was banned. I have never been contacted by anyone, either by mail, by IRC or in comments on my blog, though I’m always available. I don’t even know who this jridell is, never heard about him. I’m not aware of any collegial decision or whatever, it’s very probably the decision of an individual.

Offensive, really ?

I guess their point is that my previous entry is considered offensive. It is not.

The main point of the entry was to provide my solution to a problem a lot of people have.

I’m also saying KDE has a problem, that Nepomuk was a problem, and that Baloo is a problem. I also said that it’s insane that Baloo can’t be disabled. KDE forces you to use their pre-alpha product. Yes, Baloo is probably very very promising. Not a reason to force you. Yes, you can use a trick to disable it (add your home to exclude list). How honest is that ? Is that more or less a trick that my solution ? Come on.

Note that since then a “disable” button was added to Baloo settings.

Code of conduct : the other face

Each time I criticize KDE, I’m pointed toward the code of conduct, and each time, I just can’t find what I did wrong. When asking, I got no answer.  This CoC has a lot of nice words there, like “respect”, “collaborative”, “pragmatic”, but don’t misinterpret it: this is not meant for KDE people, only for others. Those from KDE can, and do, act badly. Those that do have no problem whatsoever with KDE e.v. or the Community Working Group or whatever.

Let’s study an example. The CoC mentions things like

  • “respect for the views of others”
  • “assume in the first instance that people mean well”
  • “resolve [disagreements] constructively”
  • “we encourage you to publish your ideas and your work”
  • “mutual respect, collaboration and pragmatic, responsible behavior”
  • something about waiting / cooling down before acting

This guy “jridell” violates all of this. What do you think will happen ? He will be told to stop acting contrary to the CoC and his action be reversed ? You really are as naive ? This is what actually happens : the CoC will be thrown to my face as a reason for being censored.

Even though I’ve always been polite and even fair, I have often been mistreated on IRC or by mail by some KDE people. Their code of conduct is not there to prevent them from being rude, only to shut criticisms.

Something is wrong in the KDE community

I’m not the only one having problems on IRC or mail, but only very few report/complain about it, at least publicly.  I’ve asked some to write a blog entry or at least to allow me to quote them, but they are just disgusted and tend to go away of KDE (quite a trend those days it seems).

I had not followed KDE much until today, and I’ve just learned that even the almighty Aaron Seigo himself is fed up with how this baloo stuff is being handled. From a communication point of view it seems. This is quite funny as Aaron was one of the more aggressive ones when I had some critics about KDE4 architecture or Q/A handling. Note that even if we do not agree at all with Aaron about Q/A in KDE, about how successful KDE4 was or some other topics, I have a huge respect for him as a programmer. I’m not surprised then that behind the Baloo mess that I witness as a user, there are technical quality concerns.

KDE Community Working Group

I was shocked by this removal. Before writing this blog entry, I took time to “settle down”. Not because it’s written in their code of conduct, but because it makes sense. And also because I lack time 🙂

I also contacted the KDE Comunity Working Group. It was a call for help, with questions (quoting myself) :

I don't know this person, never have been contacted or whatever. I don't
know why i've been kicked. I haven't even managed to find those "Planet KDE
guidelines" he speaks about.

Is that a normal behavior within KDE ? How does it fit within
http://www.kde.org/code-of-conduct ?

I'd like to know if this is a quick-and-ugly misbehaviour from an individual
or if KDE as a whole endorse/accept this kind of behaviour ?

I never received answers to those questions. Two members of the KDE CWG answered the mail. The first answer, basically says

“Have you read the code of conduct ? Your post is rude because there is the word  mess,  and you are wrong that baloo can’t be disabled”.  So I guess he means those two arguments are enough to have be banned. Saying something wrong is enough ! He also mentions ‘crap’, though I don’t think I never used this word, not my kind.

The second answer, still not answering any of my important questions,  is

Thank you for writing to us, Thomas. As Tomaz said, your blog not only
was rude, but came on top of other critical and not-helpful comments
about Baloo. Perhaps there was an over-reaction on the part of the
Planet admin who removed your blog.

I’m not sure about the reasoning, but it kinda seems that the fact that I came after others is an argument. I don’t know about those others, maybe they were actually rude and I pay for them ? Searching the net, it seems that the topic is indeed hot, they even turned on moderation on the kde-devel mailing list (momentarily I guess).

I’m not sure about the role of this CWG, but my current understanding of their reaction is “Shut up, jridell is right and KDE officially support his act, saying mess is bad, banning is good”.

Really rude.

In order to lower the pressure, we can still have a good laugh at the very funny conclusion of this last mail. Recall that I had contacted the official KDE representative about an act of censorship :

I would very much like to see this war of words turn into a dialog

Lack of reaction

I understand perfectly that lot of people in the “KDE community” are probably not like this “jridell”, hopefully most of them. I already hear you guys saying how I’m mixing everything up. I’m not. I wont provide names as this kind of post could embarrass them, but I know several people within KDE (or who previously were there) which are definitely the opposite (and great coders, too, btw). I can cite some of my favorite KDE projects though : kwin, gwenview, okteta, okular, konversation. Nope, kmail is definitely not on this list.

My point here is not even about this particular case. There are always stupid or foolish people in such a big community, it’s anavoidable. The two things that really do worry me here are:

  1. the total lack of reaction of the “KDE community” when their own people act like this, censoring people from planet, kicking from irc, insulting in mails
  2. it keeps on happening, for years

It means the KDE community endorses this behavior. The rudeness ends belonging to the whole KDE community. And for this, I blame this community.

Quality, Code, Community

There’s a pattern here. It feels exactly like Q/A handling in KDE : officially of course it’s all well and great. KDE had and still has several huge technical issues, but they are denied, and speaking about them will bring you “code of conduct” together with insults. But only from KDE people, all the other feedback I had was positive, and even constructive.

Sounds exactly the same with the “community”. All the fuss about “KDE community”, “Code of conduct”, “guidelines” and the oh-how-we-are-so-proud-of-it favorite sentence on planetkde “Us, as a community“, all of this is just brainwashing.

The “we are all great, cool and nice people” stuff doesn’t work anymore than the “KDE 4 went great” as far as convincing people.

The present of KDE

Since the dawn of KDE 4.0, I see lot of people around me stopping using KDE. I’ve been told recently that there’s also a kind of “dev leaking” in KDE. I guess this kind of downside is very hard to stop. I’m really happy that Qt doesn’t take this way. At least the basis are kept.

When I started using KDE (around 1999, just after the release of 1.0), I was really enthusiastic, Qt already was so much better than GTK (in my point of view, which is technical rather than political), and dang, those guys were good. A lot of the technical choices made at this time were so right. Ok, the CORBA stuff was not, but they got it, and even if they had spent so many resources on it, they had the courage to both say “we were wrong” and to remove it.

There were no “Us, as a community” nor any kind of  “Community Working group” by then, but it felt a lot more like a community.

My (technical, still) point of view on the recent KDE software remains the same: there are a lot of good stuff there, but the overall quality is BAD.

My wish would have been that a couple of respected and skilled KDE devs take the responsibility of accepting, or not, new stuff in KDE. Most of the pillars in the KDE 4.0 era should not have passed, Nepomuk should NEVER have passed (even if funded by the EU), and Baloo as it is now should never have passed. There are a lot of other stuff that shouldn’t have passed neither (ever looked the design of akregator? worth a blog entry by itself..)

The future of KDE

What does the future hold ? KDE 5.

Reading about KDE 5, my first impression is “Yes, this is GREAT and will help. Modularization and cleaning dependencies is great. Especially for people like me that don’t use the KDE “platform” but still are interested in using part of it. Do you know that konversation brings the whole KDE, AND the whole kdepim just because there’s some feature involving connecting irc nick with people in akonadi. And it is not optional.

Ok, so KDE 5 looks promising. Very promising even. But then, again, so did KDE4 and its pillars. It looked wonderful. I was compiling/testing/using alphas, and betas, and RCs.. and it kept on crashing. Then 4.0 and 4.1, and 4.2 .. That’s where I gave up i think.

The future of the Desktop

I’m speaking about the desktop on linux and alike, of course. I’m entering “divination” mode here, but I have the feeling that the best stack for the desktop is around:

There has been a lot of  “light desktops based on Qt” in development recently, and even more recently, quite some consolidation is happening.

First lxde, one of the most famous “light desktop”, is migrating to Qt. Then, another promising Qt-based desktop, razor-qt, that I have used for several years, is merging with lxde-qt. There are words that the very interesting hawaii could work closer with those too.

In an ideal world, if KDE manages to modularize as they expect, it would fit very nicely in there too. A lot of side projects would fit well also, such as the sddm login manager.

You get the idea ? A lot of well-done and do-one-thing-well projects, based on standards, and nicely interacting together. The unix way ! So different than the actual KDE megamoth.

So, at least in the Qt world, the future looks bright.

Congratulations to the lxde and razor-qt teams for the 0.7.0 release !