When OpenSolaris got started, #solaris was a channel filled with pointless rants about GNU-this and Linux-that. Beside complete wrong-headedness, it was a total waste of time and extremely hostile to new people. #opensolaris, in contrast, was actually pretty nice (for IRC!) - sure, the usual pointless discussions but it certainly wasn't hateful.

Recently I'm sad to say #opensolaris has become a really hostile, unpleasant place. I've seen new people arrive and be bullied by a small number of poisonous people until they went away (nice own goal, people!). So if anyone's looking for me for xVM stuff or whatever, I'll be in #onnv-scm or #solaris-xen as usual. And if you do so, please try to keep a civil tongue in your head - it's not hard.


Hey, John. I agree. #opensolaris can get hostile at times, and so can some of the lists on opensolaris.org. I've brought this up many times, but there seems to be no real desire to change it on the part of the OGB or the Members of the OpenSolaris Community. I think it should be an election issue for the next OGB. And I also think we ought to start moderating some lists and put in a new policy for list behavior.

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on December 17, 2007 at 08:28 PM GMT #

It would be good to see a solution to the mailing list problem certainly, but I think it's a pretty
hard problem - moderation is the only approach you can really take with a mailing list, and that's

IRC is somewhat easier: just move. Get people who
behave in a reasonable manner and contribute usefully into a new channel and leave the other one
to rot.

IOW I'd love to see #opensolaris-dev or whatever
for people who actually do something useful.

Posted by John Levon on December 17, 2007 at 08:43 PM GMT #

wholeheartedly agree.

Posted by stevel on December 17, 2007 at 08:58 PM GMT #

Well, I think having a seperate help channel on IRC might be appropriate. #opensolaris and #solaris are IRC channels, they aren't official forms of communication, they don't carry the serious nature the mailinglists do.

People need to have a rant and rave from time to time and IRC is the perfect forum. It's a place for people to be critical of Sun and the direction of OpenSolaris/Solaris and generally should allow for techs, sysadmins, developers and other interested parties to have a yak.

If Sun want IRC to be polite, support oriented and 'customer focussed', they should pay people per line of helpful text. Otherwise, these places should be left free and peaceful.

People are leaving these channels because of a decrease in signal to noise ratio. Some are citing the increase of linux-oriented 'n00bs' as a sole reason for leaving - the trolls are annoying, the linux questions are annoying and the whinging because some arse-about bit of desktop crap isn't in SXCE by default is annoying.

Posted by Andre van Eyssen on December 18, 2007 at 06:51 AM GMT #

Andre, you seem to be a little confused. Sun don't want IRC to be anything. I speak only for myself,
I'm not some kind of Sun corporate spokesman.

I have no objection to people on IRC being critical of Sun or the OpenSolaris project, nor do I mind people yakking. It's constant torrents of abuse and mindless rants about Linux, especially when directed at newcomers, that I mind. It's not even \*relevant\* never mind nice.

Posted by John Levon on December 18, 2007 at 07:10 AM GMT #

See that sun.com in the domain? Everyone knows that you're not speaking in an official capacity, but a lot of the people calling for IRC to be a big happy family have that domain.

Moving on to the meat of the message, those 'constant torrents of abuse and mindless rants about Linux' often come from the very same people who dispense helpful advice and solutions when there isn't a troll to kick around. Some people have had to work with linux, and therefore enjoy booting the boot in from time to time. Anyone spending time in #opensolaris has an investment in the platform - the either work for Sun, develop Solaris-specific software, work in a Solaris shop or are enthustiastic and evangelical about the platform. Most people in those categories don't have a lot of time for linux and it becomes awfully tempting to put the boot in, especially when these 'newcomers' are spouting on and on about linux-this and linux-that. It's like chasing the religous nutbags away from your door - hopefully they'll go elsewhere and not come back.

Sun have stated they're pushing hard for wider adoption with OpenSolaris, getting some desktop traction and getting mindshare in the 'user community'. Sun would love it if there was free tech support for the new users - sadly, the patience ran out a long time ago and questions from those who don't put any effort in get an 'RTFM' at the polite end of the spectrum - a well earned RTFM.

I'll take informative, honest and entertaining over sacharrine 'nice' any day of the week.

Posted by Andre van Eyssen on December 18, 2007 at 07:20 AM GMT #

Are you 'Tempt'? You're actually one of the exact
people I had in mind.

Posted by John Levon on December 18, 2007 at 07:24 AM GMT #

Your attitude towards Tempt is quite disappointing. You'll find few people providing more useful technical help - the kind you'd otherwise be paying big bucks for at Sun. Your claims only have validity if #opensolaris was defined as an end user support channel.
I find your "political correctness" attitude very typical and the /kick policy you're suggesting smells quite a bit like the .us foreign policy.
I can't really take you seriously when you've only been a lurker and not a contributor.
(And you should have done your research lurking in #linux and #solaris if you were to be a bit more credible)

Posted by quasi on December 18, 2007 at 07:48 AM GMT #

It's no good being occassionally helpful if you're a bully the rest of the time. My "claims" are valid no matter what. There's simply no reason to be objectionable even if someone's asking for help. If you don't want to help them, kindly direct them somewhere else, or just keep quiet. This is REALLY not hard to understand.

I assume you're trolling by mentioning foreign policy. Regarding lurking: it's hard not to lurk when you're drowned out by pointless rants.

PS you might like to do a little more research
before accusing me of not contributing to the
OpenSolaris project.

Posted by John Levon on December 18, 2007 at 09:02 AM GMT #

No part of the comment was on your work on opensolaris, quite the contrary.
However, I've never seen you participating on #opensolaris.
Whatever - feel free to claim #opensolaris in the name of Indiana and the end users, but don't expect everyone in this world to have endless patience for people who can't be bothered to type man. (and if you reread previous comments and the logs from #opensolaris, you'll see that many "rants" are sparked by someone complaining that solaris isn't Gnu/linux)

Posted by quasi on December 18, 2007 at 10:59 AM GMT #

One method of controlling this right now is to have a strict line to the following effect be added to the topic : "Harsh/abusive language will not be tolerated (not even if you think the question/person deserved it.. just ignore)"

Posted by Anil Gulecha on December 19, 2007 at 03:55 AM GMT #

You can't force people to act like adults if they have chosen to be children. You can't explain socialization to them, as they won't consider any amount of explanation sufficient. You can only draw a line, explain it well enough that reasonable people are able to understand, and consider those who have chosen to be unreasonable expendable.

Posted by Mikael Gueck on December 19, 2007 at 05:36 AM GMT #

Don't you think you're taking this a bit too far? I mean, sure, there are outbursts of "RTFM" at random beginners asking silly questions, but those are usually from the people who also tend to contribute most to the channel in terms of actual knowledge.

And knowledge has a price. Even if you aren’t paying for support, the people offering it do need some kind of compensation. Be it in the form of an interesting well written question, a simple thank you, or, let’s face it, ego. Technical people enjoy answering difficult questions that have an actual point, an actual challenge rather than trying to explain to Ubuntu-Joe why Solaris doesn’t come with Compiz by default or whatever.

There's two ways to look at this: yes, some of the more experienced members tend to be rude or brief, but so do the people demanding support or failing to even read the channel TOPIC. You can't just solve this problem by eliminating the more knowledgeable people just for being dismissive. You'll end up with a channel full of friendly yet clueless people. This is, after all, a technical channel, not a hand holding competition.

On the other hand, it would be nice if an authoritative figure (channel staff) would act more like Freenode staff and provide moderation when someone gets carried away or starts insulting people. It would also be good if they would point the person asking the silly questions in the right direction (or mute him if it's the case of refusing to read documentation or just complaining without actually trying to fix anything). But this is usually not the case for channel regulars. The troubles come from random trolls that just come to complain. You are going against the wrong people here.

Besides, haven't you noticed that the people making all the noise aren't OpenSolaris contributors, Sun customers, Solaris users or even have anything good to say about it? They just enter the channel to complain and provoke flame wars.


Posted by Criveti Mihai on December 19, 2007 at 11:08 AM GMT #

cmihai: no, I don't think I'm taking it too far.
There's a huge difference between being "brief"
or "dismissive" and being actively hostile. Like I said this difference is \*not hard to understand\* - people are \*choosing\* to be hostile.

Your suggestion that only clueless people are polite
seems obviously false - check the opensolaris
mailing lists for the vitriolic posts and see who
they come from. Hint: it's very, very rarely
an experienced Solaris engineer.

Finally, I totally disagree that it's the occasional troll that causes problems. It's a small number of regular people. And it's not
just about abuse: endless ranting about how
GNU is terrible completely saps the life out of
the channel and is still hostile behaviour.

Anyway, #opensolaris-dev got re-activated now,
so I can happily leave #opensolaris to rot as
I suggested.

Posted by John Levon on December 19, 2007 at 11:15 AM GMT #

When I decided to try out SXCE, I went to #opensolaris to ask a question and everyone was quite rude. They seemed to be more interested in carrying on their own conversations than helping a newcomer. I decided not to install SXCE.

Posted by Gabriel on December 24, 2007 at 10:19 AM GMT #

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