FLOSS and newcomers
30 September 2010
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After using Frugalware for some time there were some questions I wanted to ask and I thought the users’ IRC channel would be the best place to ask. I asked a few questions and got some good answers. There was just one problem, though, one annoying user. This user, named “mxw”, kept interrupting conversations saying “Stop using “…” it’s annoying”. I can’t remember the exact phrase, but it was something like that. Now I regularly used “…” to indicate my flow of thought(s), perhaps also to indicate a pause.
It may be difficult to believe, but although I had been a geek for many years and used Linux for at least 7 years, the Frugalware users’ IRC channel was my first entry in world of IRC. I knew nothing about IRC and assumed that everyone there was an actual person. What I didn’t know about mxw was that this was not a person but in fact an IRC channel bot which could automatically carry out simple tasks, including monitoring the usage of “…” in messages.
I was so annoyed at these rude messages that I seriously considered quitting from using IRC completely. Thankfully I continued and, several years later, am still a happy Frugalware user.
The point to this blog post is to demonstrate just how easy it can be for people to be turned away from the world of FLOSS. Responses like “RTFM” and “what a n00b!” can turn away people who, if they were welcomed, might make a fantastic contribution to FLOSS. Since you can’t know who are new users, the best approach is to ensure that you treat everyone with respect.