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So, I'm not "one of the most well known and respected people in the whole open source community" and I'm not as socially inept as Bram, but I, too, had some issues getting things done on FreeNode, and I sympathize with his frustration.

The #webmin channel had been claimed by someone unrelated to the project, and who we had no prior contact with; it wasn't a hostile thing, but they hadn't logged in for months, weren't dealing with trolls and had opened access to the topic to everyone (so the topic was being abused for all sorts of ridiculous stuff). We were unable to contact the person directly, so I tried taking over ownership of the channel through the official means. After a year of just waiting (because I'd been warned it was a very slow process, and I don't spend a lot of time in IRC these days), I chimed in on the operators channel, and spoke with a couple of folks. All were nice, friendly folks, but weren't able or willing to do anything about solving our problems with the channel. I believe in the end I was told that our application would be brought to the front of the queue because of the ongoing problems, and how long we'd been waiting. I don't know what, if anything, happened with that; it was at least 8 months ago. I never heard anything about it, anyway, and the last time I logged in, I don't think we had ops on #webmin.

So, Bram is a bit of a douche. This is pretty well-known; anyone that has ever met him or interacted with him knows that socially he is inept (and Asperger's gets bandied about as the reason, though I don't think that really accounts for lack of online social graces). I look past it because intellectually he's brilliant, and ethically he seems solid, so two out of three aint bad; in short, he means well, but he can be mean about it. Even in terms of helping people, within the limits of his social graces, he is generous with his time in helping folks use and understand his code. We all have our flaws, and the FreeNode processes and policies and lack of staff to deal appropriately with those process and policies can frustrate someone with the patience of Job. Bram definitely does not have the patience of Job.

So, to sum up: A 60 day expiry on accounts is idiotic. The official channel registration process, while well-meaning, is baroque and seems to leave a lot of channels in a lurch of having no operator or an abusive operator for months or years. Bram is kind of an asshole. But we still like FreeNode and we still like Bram.




good excuse to hup a screen somewhere and camp the nick. eom.


Look up Asperger's.


I'm familiar with the term. It's my understanding that face-to-face communications are the most impacted areas of human interaction for folks with this condition, and that online communications are easier for them, because they're on mostly equal footing with the folks they're talking to (no one can see anybodies facial expressions on the net, and so only the words themselves matter). It's one of the reasons so many of them find their way into computing and other fields that don't require direct human interaction. With Bram's intelligence, I'm certain he would be capable of effectively simulating normal human interactions online (and I've spoken to him online and he seemed perfectly normal, though he probably wasn't in a frustrated mental state at the time). He could have chosen to approach things with more civility, regardless of whether he has Asperger's or some other condition that makes human interaction in the real world difficult. The loosely realtime nature of IRC allows time for thinking over what you're saying, considering the implications, and thinking through how it will appear to others.

In short, I'm saying that I don't think Bram should get (or would be right to expect) a pass for being an asshole to a volunteer on FreeNode, regardless of whether he has Asperger's or not. Being an asshole isn't OK, even if you have a condition that makes it easier to be one without noticing. It just means you need to be more mindful of your behavior, since it's no one else's job to do it for you.


While some people with Asperger's experience problems with face to face communications and have an easier time dealing with people online, that's a sweeping statement.

I know Bram and I don't think he would care if I said that face to face communication is not a problem for him. In my time speaking with Bram both face to face and online, his primary characteristic per Asperger's has been a near complete lack of social fear.

Most humans get nervous in certain social situations. Bram does not. This will certainly cause problems when faced with someone that social might wield power, as an administrator, and Bram my have to pay for his lack of decorum in these situations.

I'm not excusing Bram's behavior. There is no need to excuse it. It has happened and he will pay whatever price is exacted. I'm simply explaining it.




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