Fedora Forums

I’ve just been banned on the Fedora Forums.

I’ve been asking users with PackageKit bugs to report them upstream on the mailing list or in bugzilla, explaining what common error messages mean, and how to fix other problems.
This, it turns out isn’t what the forums are for. I guess it’s just for uniformed users telling less informed users how to “fix” things. My mistake.

I won’t be even reading the forums anymore, and consider the couple of hours I spent on the forums answering questions and educating users about PackageKit wasted.
These are all the posts I’ve made on the forum if you want to check any of my messages. A few of them are pretty blunt, but the personal critique of my skills as a programmer and PackageKit is pretty blunt too (especially by a “Community Manager“).

Advice to developers: Don’t bother.

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Richard has over 10 years of experience developing open source software. He is the maintainer of GNOME Software, PackageKit, GNOME Packagekit, GNOME Power Manager, GNOME Color Manager, colord, and UPower and also contributes to many other projects and opensource standards. Richard has three main areas of interest on the free desktop, color management, package management, and power management. Richard graduated a few years ago from the University of Surrey with a Masters in Electronics Engineering. He now works for Red Hat in the desktop group, and also manages a company selling open source calibration equipment. Richard's outside interests include taking photos and eating good food.

35 thoughts on “Fedora Forums”

  1. Somehow I am amused by the smile on your hackergotchi in conjunction with the bubble that comes out of it and tells me you just got banned.. ;-)

    Forums are for lamers.

  2. Actually, I loved being on the ubuntu forums for a long time. Back then when ubuntu was new… it was great. Many friendly people helping each other etc. But those times are over. There’s always a point where the idiots (aka “PowerUsersTM”) take over. Those “mods” and what they call themselves.

    Sadly, in Ubuntu, those people (as well as some idiots on the mailing lists) seem to have a great influence on the direction of the distribution. And that’s why I won’t upgrade to Ibex btw

  3. This shouldn’t be news to anyone.

    Anyway, I can’t help but think it’s our fault as OS developers – my thesis is that we’re optimizing the OS for these people. Here’s why.

    The OS, just the stock desktop install, being composed of several hundreds packages (with dependencies) means it’s way too easy for people to “tweak” and replace core parts of it with crap (just look at many of the Fedora/RH-“compatible” repos that happily replace core packages.). Then again, all the hobbyist enthusiast/idiots will flame me for saying this – they consider it “freedom” to fuck up, oh sorry, I meant “tweak” their machines. And, by way of forums, encourage anyone else to do it.

    Also, by having the OS being this soup of (untested) combinations of packages, a package maintainers (who most of the time aren’t programmers and most of the time doesn’t understand how their packages _really_ work) can easily upgrade a package and then other bits of the system stops working. Of course, now all the package maintainers will flame me for saying I’m a fucking elitist and how dare I exclude them from participating – it’s like I’m taking away freedom from them! And they’ll tell you that I’m taking away freedom from users – I mean, how dare I suggest that we don’t need all these 20,000 packages! How dare I suggest that people should be running GNOME2 or KDE4, what about someones grandmom who wants to run ratpoison?

    It’s a trade-off really. Community-based development, in an OS based on fine-grained packages, with little or no QA gives you exactly these problems: 1) enthusiasts screw up their machines; 2) the end product often fails; 3) lots of noise disrupting developers. At least that’s what I’m seeing with all the community distros.

    Here’s the thing:OS development is just really hard. It’s not all bad; I’m pretty sure there’s a better way to deliver a free modern community desktop to the masses (and not optimized for enthusiasts) than what all the Linux distros are doing.

  4. Bleh, just keep kicking ass, PackageKit is something we really need. Now that I know how to use git (cough), I might git a try to hacking it!

  5. Advice to users: don’t bother trying to talk to developers, they’re grouchy and terse ;)

    (I’m only half joking, there is a wise school of thought that developers and users shouldn’t directly interface. They are not generally able to converse in a useful and productive manner)

  6. oh gezz! it’s sounds weird to me! how can a developer be banned because was helping?
    “I guess it’s just for uniformed users telling less informed users how to “fix” things” I’ve the same feeling, nobody cares about to have the bug fixed in mainstream, they care just about to have they owns problems solved as quickly as possible!

  7. Come visit the Mandriva forums. I’ve been running those since 2005 and am quite proud to have never banned *anyone* (I’ve deleted a few accounts, but only those ones that were opened by bots for the sole purpose of making spam posts. Damn spambots).

    Just ignore all the OMG KITTENS! type posts in the Community Chat forums. That’s the price of a liberal moderation regime. :)

  8. That’s awesome!

    I’ve never really read Fedora Forums before, so I decided to have a look around to see what it’s all about. Maybe I’m not getting a good feel for it, but it really feels like a bunch of people huddling around, whispering about their favourite distro. But what I’m finding shocking is the level of ignorance surrounding the majority of their conversations. It reminds me a lot of the sort of forums I used to read about Windows (back when I still cared). All the advice was completely disconnected from the developers and most solutions felt like black magic, because no one really understands what’s happening.

    In a closed system, that’s pretty understandable, but there’s no excuse for that sort of behaviour with something like Fedora where every design and development decision is discussed in public.

    On a back-patting note, I think PackageKit is a fantastic idea. Though I’ve cursed it a few times in the past (mostly back in the pre-F9 rawhide days), it’s one of the most innovative changes in F9 and people will start to eat their words as it matures.

  9. Wow, that’s … incredible. I read through all of your posts to see if you said anything warranting a ban, and all I found was useful and constructive posts. The closest you come is when you tell someone to stop “talking rubbish”, but that’s possibly the weakest “flame” imaginable.

    I find it incredible that in the same thread, “JN4OldSchool” is willfully ignorant of the facts and ignores what you’ve written entirely, telling you to “grow a brain moron [sic]”, but all he gets is a slight warning, while you get banned.

    In case this incident makes you feel disheartened at all, as a regular reader of Planet Gnome I’ve come to associate your name with some of the highest quality and most interesting things coming out of the project in recent years. Don’t let these ignorant children get you down, and keep up the good work!

  10. I abandoned forum a long time ago, because they were useless at best, patently harmful in most cases (blogs by ‘enthusiasts’ aren’t better).

    I wasn’t able anymore to stand the number of morons with post-counters in the order of the thousands that continued to fed up crap to unsuspecting users: workarounds for bugs solved three years ago who continue to popup regularly, FUD propagated even when corrected by more savy users (who strangely tend to have many less posts)… fuck them all, sometime I think that the Internet should be shutdown, purged and restarted.

  11. Fedoraforum is known for sucking. And Wayne is especially bad. He’s much like KiwiNZ over at ubuntuforums, who was also recently featured in someone’s blog for his banning someone who was trying to help.

    After my own being banned, I was invited by an ubuntuforums moderator to join the “community” forum started by some of the members ubuntuforums, and was instantly banned on that forum by KiwiNZ as well simply because of my supposed infractions on ubuntuforums.

    It’s not just developers who have a hard time on forums. At least Debian hasn’t given any power-hungry overlords power over their forums/community as Ubuntu (and to some extent Fedora) has.

  12. Amazing !!! I never realized this forum was so bad, but looking at other topics, I have to admit it is really pathetic …

    OTOH, SMC, I think this is a really bad attitude. Are you expecting every F users to be experts ? Should the others be shot on sight or something unless they stick to Winblows ? Fedora is quite complex, moves fast, and there’s the occasional bad breakage too, so helping users is quite important …

  13. If I understand it right, what you did was like what people do in bugzilla: run a search query, dig up thousand *old* open bugs, make a comment, forget about those (well, except you couldn’t do the last step). And in the first link you posted that admin says that you violated forum rules or whatnot doing that. Sounds pretty sensible (once you try to think of forums as of something sensible).
    You don’t realize that answering (kind of) a month-old question in a forum does not really qualify as helping people in a forum, do you?

  14. @Yevgen
    >You don’t realize that answering (kind of) a month-old question in a forum does not really qualify as helping people in a forum, do you?

    Well, most users use google to find answers, and google returns the few weeks old threads with wrong answers and no closure. Surely it’s better I conclude the thread with the correct answer, so anyone searching on google gets the right answer?

  15. The forms have rules. Whether they’re something you agree with or not, you certainly violated them.

  16. I’d like to chime in as well and tell you that your project is very important to all linux distros, because it brings unification and consistency between different distro flavors.

    I too read your posts and that mod is well… unhappy with you for no real motive. I think he acted on his personal software preferences rather than objective reason.

    Once again, keep pushing package kit! :)

  17. Way to build a community and care for the users! From what I remember from the time when I visited forums, users wished and begged for developers to come and take part, which they almost never do (understandably!). Outstanding work by Wayne to make sure that it’s even more rare in the future!

  18. a and Yevgen: to a degree I’d agree with you, but only to a degree.

    This is something that happens a lot on forums and IRC channels when moderators lose track of the fact that the point of being a moderator is to facilitate useful communication, not to exercise power. It often gets to the point where anyone who breaks a rule gets banned because Them’s The Rules. (IRC channels of certain types are notorious for this). This is just the use of power for power’s sake and doesn’t really help anyone. Just because someone breaks a rule does not make it sensible to ban them. If they’re obviously doing it for a constructive purpose, it’s a lot more sensible to send them a private message – a *polite* one – explaining the reason for the policy and offering to open a discussion on an alternative approach. It’s also worth asking *other* forum users what they think about the issue.

    Taking a light touch and constructive approach like this I’ve never needed to ban anyone. It always turns out to be possible to resolve the issue in a better way without waving the big stick. It is possible to get to a situation where you have to ban someone – if they ignore all attempts at dialog or compromise and appear to be acting in a simply malicious manner – but that should really rarely be the case, and certainly isn’t here.

  19. I think this is ironic and sad. I got banned from #fedora for complaining about there being no details about the Fedora mirror situation (about 36 hours after the news broke). I decided not to blog about it because I thought it was an over-zealous, asshat. But now I’m thinking it’s maybe something more than that.

  20. Not surprised. The Ubuntu Forums has a lot of the same issues: complaints of a disconnect with the development community (‘omg why wont they use the forums, ps we’re not using mailing lists’), crap solutions (Automatix — say no more), et al. Some of that is probably jealousy (‘why can’t we have that many _developers_?’), but mostly I’m very glad there’s such a disconnect. IOW, if you’re not part of the development community, it’s hard to have a say in development.

  21. There are two points of view here:
    1) packagekit is cool, and packagekit author is trying to help people what he can;
    2) packagekit is not cool, and packagekit author is spamming the forums with useless posts like “file a bug report” but thank you very much you should not have released this piece of soft with the bug in the first place.

    Sadly, both points of view are valid, but you think that (1) is constructive and (2) “is not constructive”, hence those guys are morons and you’re good. (I don’t have any opinion about packagekit itself, I’ve never used it, I just watch the packagekit and pulseaudio drama on planet.gnome.org)

  22. This is very similar to the reason I stopped going to LUGs.

    Person 1: “Can you set up IPTABLES for me?”

    Me: “Sure, I can explain how IPTABLES works and help you set it up”

    Person 1: “lol no, I just want someone to set it up”

    Person 2: “Magictables Linux has a tool to set it up automatically, you should reinstall your entire system so that you use Magictables, plus it’s more awesome”

    Me: “you know, I’m sure that tool is available… you know what, never mind”

  23. This is what you guys want, right? To take over the world. Then you’re going to have put up with this.

  24. Wow, I thought I had bad people skills. That “community manager” tops me, though :) Thanks for all your hard work. You have really helped make my daily life happier!

  25. QUOTE:
    We also do not permit public discussion, review, or debate about administrative decisions, as is clearly stated in the guidelines. Please (re)read them before posting again: http://www.fedoraforum.org/?view=guide

    Interesting, in the light that administration is publicly free to bash anyone if they feel that “anyone” deserves it..

  26. They’ve since scrubbed all your posts…

    It’s just EFNet or USENET all over again, why bother dealing with people who’s core issue is not actually technical?

  27. Regular users of a forum certainly do NOT want to see months old threads back on the main page, burying the new stuff. The people who actually talk on a forum are not using google to find threads, you know. What you have done is like spam for the regular users. They go on the main page to see what’s new only to find your self-centered unearthing of dead threads.

    A forum works like this, when you post a message in a thread, it keeps it on the main page, staying alive. If it’s buried 3 or more pages after the main one, it’s dead meat, only there for someone who wants to look at old stuff. If you post something on an old thread you bring it back on the main page, do it many times and you are just spamming stuff no one actually wants because if they wanted to continue the discussion they wouldn’t have let it die.

  28. Forums are just a bad communications device. It is like a party line. From what I saw of the posts it came down to Wayne not liking Richard. In fact some of those month old posts I though I saw a user reply, thanks for the tips.

    I assume if a question is not answered people would still like it to be. If the mods don’t want old posts to be brought up to the top they should be able to lock threads by date. It is poor form to “fix” crappy software with arbitrary “rules”.

  29. If forums wanted dead posts to die off after a few days, why don’t they just lock or archive them when they fall off the front page?

    God I hate forums. There are a zillion random rules to work around the limits of garbage technology.

  30. I don’t use packagekit, and honestly don’t give two hoots about it.

    There is no problem with what Mr. Hughes did here. If Fedora doesn’t want people to post in older posts, set the software up correctly to not allow posts on topics that haven’t had a reply for X amount of days. It honestly is not that hard.

    It’s great that a dev actually cares enough about a project to attempt to help people out.

    Not all forums are run like Fedora’s. Though it is becoming more and more popular. It’s like everyone is losing their nut sacks or something.

  31. I feel for you. It’s a shame that you got banned, and it looks like they’ve gone the extra mile to delete your entire profile.

    I don’t help in forums that often, only the Debian ones a couple of times a week. I spend most of my time answering (to me) idiotic questions on my own blog. Meh.

    I miss the days when “RTFM,” “Have you filed a bug?” “You know you can code it yourself,” and “Google it!” were acceptable answers for obvious questions or silly requests.

  32. I think fedora should consider removing their endorsement of fedoraforums.org as a place to go for help. These sort-of sites are just mouth pieces for the peanut gallery.

  33. agree with a lot of the discussion here and lol at the forum people.

    i had a very upsetting run-in with the #fedora people recently so i guess it’s a similar story there. i used to enjoy helping people there and was willing to spend a lot of time on it. i think i was giving good quality answers and i think they were appreciated. now i feel inclined to avoid the channel like the plague.

    i think fedora should take a very careful look at all the communications channels carrying the fedora brand name. especially those it recommends as primary contact points through the wiki.

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