Friday, March 30, 2007

Contempt for newbies in linux

There's a Dilbert cartoon where a girder has fallen from the ceiling and hit an employee-- but only one employee. The employee complains and Catbert rejoins "No one else is complaining." So too can it be the case when newbies complain about things in linux. I've had cases where I pointed out a bug and have had very knowledgeable persons-- developers even-- rejoin with "It's not a bug if you're the only one experiencing the problem." While blooming idiots might expect impossible things of linux, it too is idiotic to assume that if you yourself aren't suffering that there is no suffering elsewhere on the planet. It's the same logical fallacy as made by conservatives in response to whole Rodney King beating thing: my family gets treated nicely by officers, therefore I'll support all of them.

Anyway, there has been a lot of discussion among linux circles, notably ubuntu, about how one sexist joke made its rounds through a developer community. The repercussions of the joke highlighted how some women in the community did not feel entirely welcome. For the record, I think that you need a small dose of political correctness, or rather that in the balance between intentionally offensive talk and the fear-mongering of political correctness, the best place to be is being called "PC" by a very few people-- they're probably the bigots.

Anyway, I went to look at the sexist joke. The funny thing that has been missed in the whole discussions that erupted around it is I don't believe bigotry against women, per se, was the intent of forwarding the joke. The target was "newbs", or folks still trying to figure out this thing called linux. The joke is For 'women' read 'newbs'.

So why don't a bunch of us newbs up and quit? Uh, no perhaps not. There are too many moral, political, humanitarian, and performance reasons to stay away from Microsoft products. But we will stick around and point out how the Emperor occasionally has no clothes, how girders occasionally fall on some users.

That's because "newb" is just another name for customer.

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