Civil vs. Nice

I’m not going to write a giant spiel on the current LKML kerfuffle. Instead, I’m just going to contrast a few (made-up) examples, none of which are “nice” per se.

The weak and potentially ineffective:

This code doesn’t seem very good. I’d prefer you didn’t submit these kinds of patches.

The needlessly abusive:

Are you an idiot? This code makes me think you are. We don’t need people like you submitting code like this.

The strong and civil:

This code is terribly written and does not at all meet our standards. We will not accept this patch, and if you keep submitting patches of this quality, we’ll be forced to stop wasting time considering them at all.

Just something to think about.

Posted on July 16, 2013, in Software Development, Women in Tech and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. hm, regarding the strong and civil. Recently Rachel Blum posted a nice article on g+ regarding such language ( and it struck me that “this code is terribly written” seems to fall in a similar category as “that’s a stupid idea”.

    Actually, thinking about it I would feel almost equally hurt by both the “needlessly abusive” and the “strong and civil”. I don’t understand why something like “This code does not meet our standards, please check them again and then resubmit.” can’t be used (but then again, I don’t follow LKML that much.. ). If some stronger reprimand were necessary I’d actually prefer that to happen in a private email..

    • It’s possible that the “terribly written” could be omitted – though I think the key difference between “this code is terribly written” and “that’s a stupid idea” is that code *can* be “terribly written” – that is a quality that code can inherently have. Whereas “stupid” is not something an idea inherently tends to have; it’s something a person tends to have.

      The examples above do not specify whether they’re being used in public or private; that’s a very separate issue.