Blog Post

Say NO! to discrimination

I highly agree and support both Jono Bacon and Melissa Draper with their recent posts concerning discrimination in the community.

I left a comment on Melissa’s blog today and I very much mean everything I said. I had my eyes closed, I will admit it at the blatent discrimination that has gone in the community. I know the one form I constantly see is the use of the terms noob and newb which references a beginner at anything as a newbie. I myself find that a little disrespective and it reminds me of the days a lot of us use to tell others to RTFM.

As a community we need to rise against this, we don’t need separation, we need equality. The greater the standards and the greater the collaboration between everyone will only result in better application, and most importantly, a greater way of life in the Open Source community. We can all come together to say Microsoft this, DRM that, yet some of us tend to voice ignorance and disrespect to our own members. Age, race, religion, sex, or amount of knowledge, we are all one in this community. If you can’t live with it, I suggest you either 1) grow up, or 2) get on with life and leave the open source community, there is no room for you here!

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  • I don’t think newbie is an offensive word, though calling others n00b and some other variants are. It used to be what beginners called themselves rather than saying “I’m new to this”.

    Is “it was a first hit I saw at Google with searchterm1 and searchterm2. Next time you could try googling yourself” or recommending them search terms any better than RTFM? What about simply not helping even though you are pretty certain you could find the answer because you feel like Google API bot already?

    There is some disrespect both ways too. If you start helping someone and cannot find the solution or run out of time, sometimes the beginners get demanding, and sometimes even rude. Maybe one way to battle both is to also battle helper exhaustion, which tends to lead to moody answers a lot of the time.

  • newbie is still a derogatory term used towards another person. If the term degrades a person or that person’s knowledge, then I don’t believe it should be used.

    I never recommend people to google something. I know I have had that feeling, but I get a greater sense of satisfaction when the person says “thank you for helping me fix my problem.” Once I get personable with someone and acquire them as an aquaintance, I will teach them how to work on their own. I have quite a few people who read this blog who would attest to this.

    Disrespect and discrimination are two different things. If I run out of time, I explain to the user what they can do to continue on with fixing their problem, or I find someone who can help. I have yet to deal with someone who was rude or disrespectful because either a) I couldn’t help them fix their problem, or b) I ran out of time, or c) I wasn’t even around to respond.

    Treat others as you want to be treated. If someone disrespects you, explain that it wasn’t necessary and why it wasn’t necessary. If they continue on, ignore that person. I know it can be difficult at times, but we have to remember why it is we are here in the first place. Once we realize that, and teach others the same realization, then we can continue on to be a happy and successful community 🙂

    On a side note, I just noticed my comments are all italic and this is annoying 🙂 Thanks for the posts!

  • dottedmag

    Everyone is equal regarding the access to the source code and documentation. What another kind of equality you want?

    Preventing me from saying ‘noob’ and ‘RTFM’ is violation of my right of free speech. Every MATURE person will accept the criticism (and if I am labeled as ‘n00b’, I’m going RTFM instead of crying and threatening the opponent).

    Immature persons will always try to ban the offender, they don’t accept the fact they are not ideal, they really think world revolves around them.

    Aren’t such discussions sign that immature persons are polluting the community and trying to influence the OSS climate by their childish injuriness and revenge?

  • tsaylor

    “Newbie” just indicates a lack of knowledge. Every person on the planet is a newbie at something. It’s like “ignorant”. It doesn’t mean you can’t understand something, just that you don’t yet. If newbie is an insult, then so is ignorant. Where does that slope stop slipping?

  • dottedmag, personal equality. Work in the community, see how some people act, then you will understand the other type of equality. grabbing the source and documentation can be done anonymously, whereas working in the open source world is quite tough to do anonymously.

    How would you like to constantly be bombarded with the a/s/l, want to go on a date, you’re a chick? and what not…how would like to be called a no0b when your intelligence or knowledge doesn’t equal that of the person saying it to you?

    Every mature person will accept the criticism, but being called a noob, a chick, and such isn’t criticism, it is plain ignorant and rude. You also have to take into consideration that a lot of people may not understand that noob may not be such a bad thing either. We are trying to be a more family oriented community. If people can’t respect that, then I personally feel they don’t belong.

    Everyone has the right to free speech, and you have the right to call people a noob, a chick, ask them on a date and what not, but when you get shunned from the community, don’t say I didn’t tell you so. Free speech is far different than the freedom of ignorance. The world has pushed for equality for decades, it is high time we follow suit and request the same.

    Be equal, be fair, be generous, be courteous…anything else we won’t stand for. That is why you are seeing these posts today.

    tsaylor, Newbie and ignorant are 2 totally different verbs expressing 2 totally different meanings. Everyone in the world could be a newbie, but who are we to call that person a newbie? It can offend or hurt someone and we should respect that. I do believe ignorant is an insult, and newbie can be taken as an insult.

    Why can’t we just realize we need to get over ourselves and start treating everyone fairly, equally, and friendly. If actually defend the opposite stance I have blogged about, then a) you don’t get it, b) you don’t want to get it, or c) you still have some growing up to do. I know you don’t go to your place of work calling people newbs, asking them out on dates, calling them chicks and what not. This equality also demands a certain level of professionalism. There is always a place and time to play and make jokes or point fun, but it isn’t here and it isn’t now.

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  • I can personally attest to the fact that Nixternal is always very patient with the newer, less experienced type… if it hadn’t been for him, I would have given up at the first sign of a struggle when I jumped into linux myself. That is the kind of equality he is talking about: the equal chance to make this change and learn this world for yourself.

    As for n00bage, I Think it should always be taken in context… I tend to call myself a noob, especially when I am in the slackware channels. lol. And I have been called one quite a few times, but never in a hurtful way.. not that it is all that hurtful, but you get what I mean. It has always been joking, and generally said at the same time as the person was helping me through my issues.

  • Dan

    Jumping on the “newbie is ok” train. Making fun of someone for not knowing something is always rude and a sign of insecurity, no doubt. However, depending on how you use it, it can be just fine. Of course don’t use it to discourage people.

    I should also add that unlike gender, race, religion, etc, being a newbie does in fact make you less than equal, by definition. Again you shouldn’t make fun of someone for it, just like anything, and of course they should be treated with equal respect, given equal opportunity to get involved, etc. However, I don’t think it’s correct to say that they’re “equals”.

    Also, I guess I’m fortunate enough to be amongst decent enough guys at our GLUG that I’ve never seen any of the bizarre attitudes toward women in Open Source mentioned in the article you linked. Do people really act like that toward female programmers?

  • tsaylor

    @nixternal: Newbie could hurt someone, but is that enough to warrant censoring ourselves? The denotation of the word is someone with little experience or knowledge in a subject. The connotation is clearly a matter of debate, as that’s peripherally what we’re arguing here. The censorship itself could also offend someone, so who’s more important?

    Would it also be offensive to call someone an apprentice? That carries with it the same lack of knowledge and experience. What about a neophyte? If not, we’re drawing arbitrary distinctions between words with very similar meanings based on feelings. If so, we’re shunning people for expressing that someone’s unfamiliar with a topic.

    I say don’t Say NO! to discrimination, Say NO! to assholes. You can tell if a person’s use of the word “newbie” is pejorative, just like you can tell if someone’s using the word “jew” or “homosexual” pejoratively. Say NO! to that, not to the word itself.

  • Newbie wasn’t the reasoning behind this post. The point to it was to stop discrimination against everything. The main point evolved from the discrimination we are seeing against the women in the IT world, and in our case the FLOSS community. I am sticking with “Say NO! to discrimination.” And I am not using this to prevent someones free speech. People are free to say what they want, but we as a community shouldn’t tolerate it. It has been tolerated for to long and it is time to put a stop to it.

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  • Even RTFM is not discrimination… People who say it tend to say it to everyone asking something. It however is massively rude.

    However, I’m still curious which of these are acceptable, if any:

    1. googling for the user, then telling where the result is and how they could have found it.
    2. telling user how to find the answers themself
    3. not helping* if you know the answer
    4. not helping* if you know you could find the answer

    *) reasons vary

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