Sometimes Shake it off doesn't cut it


Nothing much more to add. You have a good attitude about dealing with the negativity. It’s easy to focus on those loud voices but, as you know, for every loud complaint there are many more people who appreciate what you and all the other people contributing to open source and Linux are doing. The best we can all do is recognize that those people are, in fact, the vocal minority and treat them as such. I wonder how many of the people who contacted you about being disappointed offered to help in any way. I’m guessing not many if any at all. That says it all in my opinion.


Exactly, none of those. Thanks for the kind words.


Nice post, I liked it.
I like how this post shows how/what the issue is and why it happened, not just the usual complains about trolls in the community without much explanation as to why/when/what. I think it’s especially important for new users.


If you don’t mind me hijacking this for a little fauxlosophy about your trolls…

People have a subconscious proclivity to form vocal opinions about things they know very little about.

My guess is it’s an evolutionary adaption because it amplifies brotherhood and discourse which is a primary means of information gathering. One of the darkest truths about Reddit for example is you’re more likely to get an answer to a question if you instead make it a statement about how an incorrect answer is the solution because people are more compelled to engage bad ideas than pondering ones. Obviously that doesn’t work without anonymity but we all likely have a watered down version that still works in small groups.

There’s also the relativism adaption where good and bad become just whatever is better or worse than what you’ve had over time. If i’d take a guess your team has done so well historically that success has become normative so if someone isn’t actively checking their subconscious, any change seems like a diversion from a “good” situation. Oh if your trolls only knew how much they’re praising you right now…

Both these tend to magnify when someone has personal problems but they’re often confused with people who knowingly embrace absurdity for an opportunity to be cruel though that’s very rare even if it’s important to know it’s out there.

Most of this stuff feels like a bunch of lost evolutionary autopilots making noise to me but I think things like your article make a great signpost back to reality and through showing the mistake it’s a heads up for them to ponder it next time.


I agree that casting shade on other fellow group members in the wider Open Source community is always an immature and socially damaging move. Any sort of personal attack is always reprehensible (and having said this, people’s reprehensible behaviour can be carefully called out at the right place and time, with a positive, warm tone, rather than attacking them personally).

As to casting shade on other projects? Well, that’s a more nuanced matter. Please bear with me here.

There will always be those who don’t like the particular ideas/projects that other people come up with, and would like for their own competing ideas/projects to win out instead. It takes careful, well-phrased, and thoughtful critique to pit one competing idea/project against another, without getting personal.

So the trick then is to not take it personally when people don’t like one’s ideas. If one strongly identifies with one’s own ideas, then it will damage one’s ego when people criticize one’s ideas. When one’s emotions get all stirred up, that’s good evidence of such strong views existing, which were deeply challenged or violated.

So I think the takeaway is this:

  • People offering careful constructive criticism need to be very, very careful in their phrasing and attitude, keeping their cool, and address the ideas, not attacking the people who have those ideas (and trying to be sensitive so that they don’t unduly feel attacked, although this isn’t always possible, please see next point). And if you’re not the diplomatic type (and it’s OK to be honest about that), then maybe it’s best to leave your criticisms un-vocalized, as they are likely just to make noise, as everyone gets all stirred up from the drama.

  • People receiving constructive criticism need to do their best to also keep their cool, and not take it personally. It’s just that competing ideas being compared to your own ideas will sometimes come across as an attack. Be ready, with a wise attitude, that of course there will be competing ideas and projects to your own, and those competitors will naturally make known why they think they are right and you are wrong. The question is who will be able to do it in a mature, adult-like manner, and not like immature elementary-school students on a playground.

All back and forth dialog will get out of hand and become a big drama just as soon as either side (giving or receiving the hopefully-constructive criticism) loses their cool, and stops keeping to an objective, calm perspective.