Looking Back: Spamming the Linux Kernel Mailing List

I subscribed to the Linux kernel mailing list recently. It`s way too technical for me to really follow very closely, but I just wanted to get a feel for the personality of the community. It`s interesting. And things move very rapidly.

But watching all this Linux kernel mail flowing by all day long reminds me that I do actually have some experience posting to the list. Twice, in fact. And it was by far the single most embarrassing moment in my OpenSolaris life, although I must admit it stings much less now all these years later. Here it is. Back before we opened the OS/Net consolidation in June of 2005 (that`s what people consider the main opening of the project), we had been collecting email addresses on our temporary site that hosted the DTrace code, which we had previously opened in January of 2005. People would enter their email addresses into a database on the site so we could then alert them when we opened the main code base. I hated the idea of doing this but obviously lost the argument. Also, I was asked to write the email that we would send to these people announcing the opening of our kernel. The whole thing made me nauseous. But, so be it. On opening day my mail shot out to well over 7 thousand people via our corporate systems. It didn`t come from my mailer, that`s for sure. I just submitted the text to another team and ducked. And did we clean the list beforehand? Of course not. We just let all fly. And it ended up in some rather interesting places -- one of which being the Linux Kernel Mailing List. Here it is. I was mortified. And here is my apology to the entire Linux kernel community shortly thereafter. Like I said, I hated the idea of any mass mailing outside for just this reason. Sure, it was well intentioned, but it was also unnecessary, poorly implemented, and easily gamed. Obviously. Anyway, I did get a few private responses from list members who were very kind and understanding. That made all the difference in the world.

Lessons learned, eh? Hey, you have to go through some pain to learn this community business, right? Fun stuff.

Comments:

I hadn't heard about this until you pointed to it. Well handled Jim. no BS, just a good ol' fashioned "sorry, we f\*cked up" :) nice to see this honest approach coming from Sun.

Posted by Che Kristo on October 16, 2009 at 04:05 PM JST #

Looking at the actual list, it doesn't look so bad.

http://lkml.indiana.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/0506.1/index.html#1646

Posted by Matt Ingenthron on October 16, 2009 at 06:48 PM JST #

Che ... I have told the story a few times but I have always been a tad embarrassed about it. :) Enough time has gone by now, I guess.

Matt ... yah, they guys over there were fine, really. It was just that was our big day and it was not something I was expecting. Pinging the LKML was just not in the launch day plans. :)

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on October 16, 2009 at 07:05 PM JST #

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