Amazed and appalled

Aaron J. Seigo aseigo at
Fri Jun 26 10:24:12 PDT 2009

On Friday 26 June 2009, Mike Hearn wrote:
> When Christian and myself wrote this spec, it was to solve a problem
> the Linux desktop had: the only poptart implementation was KDE
> specific and so most of the apps we used or worked on (like Gaim and
> Wine) did not use them. The point of freedesktop was to solve that
> sort of problem, so we stepped up and spent our evenings and weekends
> doing exactly that. It was not a perfect solution. It did not include
> every possible feature, partly for reasons of time and partly for
> reasons of design.

Mike, i'm sure your heart was in the right place. unfortunately, you took a 
path that did and end-run around collaboration, ignored prior art and ignored 
the feedback of others. live and learn, right? sorry you're becoming the 
object lesson for others, but the way you approached this was not a 
sustainable way to run fd.o. it was avoidable, you chose not to, now the 
rewards are being reaped. 

take some personal responsibility for your decisions, or don't bother sharing 
your high-minded and contentless "i'm shocked and awed" speeches.

> But it met the needs of many apps, they started to use the spec, and
> we thought the problem was solved.

when you close your ears to the input of those you are supposed to be 
collaborating with, it's easy to come to that conclusion. reality, however, 
shows that the problem was not solved.

instead, some years on we end up with the very natural desire to have visual 
notifications from app A shown in environment B seamlessly and, due to the way 
this undertaken, that has been far harder than it ever should have been.

i don't want to see that happen again.

> This was in line with the
> philosophy of the xdg founder, Havoc Pennington, who believed in
> deployed code above endless email threads.

the irony in this statement is that knotify, deployed code, existed long 
before galago. let's step off the soapbox, Mike, and try and keep level head 
so you don't say things that embarrass yourself, ok?

> 5 years on, I just wanted to say that I am in awe at how much time has
> been wasted discussing the *name* of the *interface* of the
> *notifications system*.

then you've completely missed the point. there were material problems with the 
spec, ranging from simple typos and internal inconsistencies to full on 
misfeatures and missing features.

but really, this is about more than even that: it's about how to make fd.o 
work for everyone involved and not just one group who decides that their hobby 
horse is more important than working on shared solutions in a productive 

you got feedback in the past, many times over, and it was summarily 
disregarded by you and those work on what was advertised as a "shard spec".

if you feel in awe, you should step back and check yourself.

> How are unpaid volunteers expected to get shit DONE like this?

"think of the children!"

please, don't trot out the "oh no, unpaid volunteers!" such people tend to 
want to do things right, too, and exercises like galago have actually made 
their life far harder than someone finally stepping up and demanding we create 
a system that _works_ for everyone involved.

> Do you seriously expect ANYONE to volunteer their time to work on
> solving problems when the result of the work is that many years later
> you are said to have "screwed people over" and are a "hijacker"?

i expect people to work on solving problems openly and cooperatively when it's 
an open and collaborative forum. having failed to do that, the galago spec 
indeed took something that was not in its purview (registering a "well known 
name" on the (theoretically?) shared org.freedesktop namespace) and shut its 
ears to the input of those it was supposed to be collaborating with.

if your intention was to create a GNOME notification forwarder, then you 
accomplished that but was not the place for that.

if your intention was to create a notification forwarder for the F/OSS 
desktop, then you screwed up.

don't expect others to paper over your mistakes as if they were roses, but 
most importantly don't expect others to continue to nurture that behaviour for 
others to follow.

we can put mistakes behind us, but we need to ensure that we don't repeat 

Aaron J. Seigo
humru othro a kohnu se
GPG Fingerprint: 8B8B 2209 0C6F 7C47 B1EA  EE75 D6B7 2EB1 A7F1 DB43

KDE core developer sponsored by Qt Software

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