[aur-general] Being an asshole to package maintainers is a bannable offense, and that's okay (Was: EQ And Community Kindness)

Eli Schwartz eschwartz at archlinux.org
Thu Jan 16 04:23:57 UTC 2020

On 1/15/20 6:07 PM, Brett Cornwall wrote:
>> If you had moderator privileges on the AUR and could see the contents of
>> the deleted comments -- of which there are many -- I suspect you'd
>> rapidly understand why people are at the end of their tether.
> The only directly mean comment I see is one from 2018-09-30 where
> someone elegantly wrote:
>> Stop beeing arrogant <maintainer>, and help, if not shut up! Sometimes
>> talk toa human is a lot better way of learning !
> All the other comments seem to be the typical fare for those that expect
> Arch to support AUR helpers/make the experience "easier". Perhaps I
> missed some.

That one definitely hit a low point, yes, but there were a couple nearly
as bad, including (as I mentioned) the one calling the maintainer stupid
because the gpg key wasn't added to the PKGBUILD and needed to be
manually downloaded, claiming that the package was "added to manjaro"
because otherwise it's too hard to install.

> It appears that the pinned comment in question was indeed added after a
> small uptick in the undesirable comments. I have doubts as to whether it
> has actually stopped any sort of behavior - adding one more comment atop
> a pile doesn't seem effective to me, and comments have since occurred
> despite the new pin.
> I'm not discounting the probable possibility that the maintainers
> received some nasty emails, but the deleted comments I can see are tame
> (if tiring to look through). The Arch Linux community has issues with
> interacting like human beings; however, I find the pinned comment in
> question to be tame (if colorful).
>>> Many linux users may be familiar with
>>> Linus Torvalds writings on his mistakes with EQ, I hope no one in aur
>>> has
>>> to experience that.
>> I'm not even sure I recognize the abbreviation "EQ", but given it's some
>> sort of Linus Torvalds reference I'm fairly positive no one has been
>> personally attacked or called names on that AUR page.
> I came across https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_intelligence

That seems like a very complicated way to hide the words "lacking
empathy" behind vague scientific terms. Also either I suck at google, or
google sucks at me. :( Not only did I not recognize the term, I also
couldn't even resolve the abbreviation to the term.

>> Some people who were behaving very impolitely indeed, were given an
>> ultimatum that their behavior was not an acceptable way to treat people,
>> but more on that later.
>> Hmm, I wonder: does that make me the champion of community kindness,
>> here? Is my attempt to enforce that, now being met with objections from
>> you, who would like to defend the right of users to be as offensive as
>> they want without having to suffer the consequences of being banned for
>> their behavior?
> While I think that your pinned comment is acceptable, I'm not sure that
> deriding a user from trying to help the community is. I see where this
> is going, and it'd be good to just stop it now before it becomes another
> drama train.

I don't think this is actually the case, to be honest. It's just a
potential interpretation, if you look at things the wrong way and miss
context. Much like the AUR comment.

How do you distinguish between "user raises concern about TU sensitivity
to users and offers a role model from an unfortunately controversy-laden
source", and "user defends repeat abusers from justified banning through
the use of Linus Torvalds/Code of Conduct controversy comparison to
paint authority figures in a bad light"?

How do you distinguish between "moderator threatens harsh punishment for
people who break the rules after being warned", and "moderator threatens
to ban people for disagreeing with him"?

Perhaps we could all agree both that this thread was not intended in
malice to abet troublemakers, and that the AUR comment was not intended
in malice against users.

>> I have been kind... to the AUR package maintainer. This is more
>> important than being kind to users, because the package maintainer is
>> the one who does the work, and therefore we would like him to continue
>> doing the work rather than being chased away by ungrateful users heaping
>> abuse upon him because he wrote a PKGBUILD for software that takes a
>> while to compile, and users apparently hate maintainers that don't offer
>> instant gratification.


> Everyone in the world is in a consumption role at some point or another,
> including package maintainers. It's up to everyone to be civil - it's
> not "us" vs "them": For every one comment/email received from a
> bothersome user, ten/twenty other users are following rules and going
> about their day. It's like retail work: Lots of assholes abound in the
> public sphere, but not everyone's an asshole so don't treat them like one.

Right, I'm not saying it should be "us" vs. "them", merely that in a
case where the package maintainer and some consumers have already ended
up at odds, I think it's generally useful to side with the maintainer in
the interest of encouraging maintainership.

> What's important *right now* is not the pinned comment, but how those in
> leadership positions in Arch Linux treat the users that come forward
> with concerns. Consider Santiago's less intimidating demeanor in another
> thread to outright rejection of anything that Michael wrote - likely
> with some hesitation due to nerves or social doubts. I'm not saying that
> everyone's proposal needs to be considered, but everyone's
> communications should be treated fairly (so long as they're civil).

I did consider it, in my other response to the thread -- I'm open to the
possibility that the wording of the comment can be improved, and I
offered an example suggestion.

But I think there's two separate issues that Michael raised, and I'm not
sure where the line lies between them:

- Is the comment itself worded in a way that gives unwitting bystanders
  an unwelcoming feeling?

- "I really hope no one was banned by the writer of this comment", which
  seems to be an unambiguous judgment upon whether or not it's okay to
  ban users.

This second concern does not attempt to contextualize the offenses
themselves. Is it never okay to ban people, or are there some things you
can ban people for?

Given the comment itself was warning against people posting about
avalidpgp checks and "complaints about the fact that test suites exist",
and directly under that is another pinned comment "Stop this incessant
spam", and "Repeat offenders will have their accounts suspended", it
might be worth... looking for comments that deal with such issues?

(It is also, I feel, a generally accepted practice in communities of
various natures, that people who repeatedly violate a rule are
potentially liable to being banned on those grounds alone. *The AUR
comment could be reasonably interpreted to refer solely to enforcement
of this concept.* If users are warned not to do something in the package
comments, and they do it anyway, then it doesn't *matter* how justified
their comment is, it is still a rules violation, and they would be
advised to first discuss via appropriate channels like the mailing list,
whether they should be allowed to do that thing, in this case, post
about validpgp or testsuite removal.)

Given the two pinned comments occurred 5 months apart, one might suspect
that whatever was going on, it was indeed "incessant". Also if it takes
5 months before we start threatening to ban people...

i.e. a thoughtful, in-depth analysis of the matter would, I think,
eventually conclude that there is definitely something not immediately
obvious going on in the history, and "I really hope no one was banned by
the writer of this comment" is a hasty judgment that trivializes the
decision-making process that goes into a ban.


Questioning the tone of the warning is a concern I'm totally fine with
someone raising -- and I accepted as much in my other email. In *this*
mail, I was more focused on defending the right to actually give people
an ultimatum and ban them at all, as that seemed to be being called into
question and I very much do not believe that should be the case. As
such, I've pointed out that there was a context to the event, and that
this context matters.

I would have preferred to see an email which said "I hope no one was
banned by the writer of this comment simply for asking an innocent
question in good faith", which would better parallel the interpretation
that Michael is concerned the comment itself was more strongly worded
than it needed to be in order to relay its message.

And then I could respond very simply: "That is correct, the only people
who need to be concerned about the warning are a select group of people
who demonstrated by e.g. repetitive action that they were no longer
acting in good faith. What can I do to clarify this comment's intended
audience and scope?"

Eli Schwartz
Bug Wrangler and Trusted User

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