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SubjectRe: Linux 4.19-rc4 released, an apology, and a maintainership note
linus, hi,

i haven't been able to get hold of a copy of "invisible dynamics" yet
however my partner did track down a... "translation" of the six
systemic laws from family to organisational principles (from where
they were originally derived). the book puts the systemic laws in a
clearer way and explains them very well, where i think the attached
was an effort to show the origin.

i have witnessed many times where free softwre projects violate these
systemic laws: those projects fail, pure and simple. sometimes that
failure takes a while: they fail nonetheless.

one particularly interesting aspect of these systemic laws of
organisations is: they really are laws. they're not "principles that
are optional to uphold". i regularly encounter people who say "i
don't believe in this rubbish you are spouting, it can't possibly be
(a) true (b) apply to me" [thus ironically violating the aspect of
"respecting contributors"] yet more than that they do not realise that
these systemic laws take effect and apply *regardless of whether
participants believe in them*.

i think, really, why i was so delighted and relieved at what you wrote
was: you finally acknowledged a long-standing systematic violation of
some of these laws, and promised to fix that. (a) treating people
with dignity (b) treating people with respect: these are at least two
that you recognised and promised to fix.

the new code of conduct (which... well... it's a good idea to read the
top comments here [1] in particular the one "can't be examined in
isolation") and also the original code of conflict, in both there are
unfortunately things still missing that, if left out, will continue to
cause problems.

one main insight that occurred to me over the past few days: the
change from a code of conflict to a code of conduct, it wasn't so much
the lack of wider consultation that bothered me as much as it has
other people, nor the change to a "proscribed list of toxic (and ever
incomplete) behaviours" [2], as i do not believe that that *actually*
was the problem in the first place.

the problem i feel was that because you, as the longest-standing
member and the member with the highest expertise, were not respecting
the code, absolutely nobody else could possibly follow or enforce it,
either. as in: how comfortable do you think the people tasked with
enforcing the code would feel about raising an issue with you, when
they received a complaint about your prior behaviour? and that's why
it was so, so important that you acknowledged this, and invited people
to give you feedback, and *promised to listen*.

the last major insight i wanted to give you is this: don't feel
guilty, and for god's sake don't be tempted to abandon your
responsibilities just because you're "reflecting"! you don't do
software development on your own (because we know that more eyes fix
bugs), and more to the point, if you go off and "fix" your behaviour
(privately), um... how do we know that it's *actually* what's needed
to be "fixed"?

so can i make a suggestion? treat "yourself" as "another bug-ridden
free software project to be fixed"! create a mailing list, create a
group, invite people to participate, with a pledge and a goal "Fix Our
Behaviour And Learn To Be Better Software Libre Developers". it's not
about *you*, Linus, it's about *people* and about *communication*, it
always has been. ... so why are you going away to fix "you", when
actually you need to learn *interaction* with others, and get rapid
cyclic feedback on that, and the best way to do that is, i feel, treat
it as another open project, complete with mailing list, roadmap and
everything! :)

that way, you get some fantastic feedback, you get to learn *and then
teach by example* how to turn the world's largest software project
into a *really good* software project that shows people across the
world how it really should be done.

lastly, if you (or anyone else) is wondering how i can have the...
um... "gall" to make these suggestions, it's very simple: the linux
kernel is installed on hundreds of millions of devices across the
world. if there's a problem with how it's developed, that's
*everyone's* problem, including mine. i take responsibility for
standing up and saying "scuse me, this affects me if it's causing
people pain", and so should you.

/respect, linus.


[2] - "if you have to
actually spell out that they shouldn't be hateful, there's a bigger
problem at stake"
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