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[Python-Dev] Dealing with tone in an email

On 5/4/2018 11:43 AM, Steven D'Aprano wrote:

> I'm not defending Ivan's initial email. His tantrum *was* annoying,
> unreasonable, and unfair to those who do care about tkinter.

Ivan's email was a disinformation troll intended to jump the attention 
queue of core developers.  He is proud of its apparent success, and 
seemingly unconcerned about equally apparent side-effects.

In form, it reminds me of Ranting Rick Johnson's performances on 
python-list, where such things are more acceptable.  At least Rick knows 
to not do the same on pydev.

 >  He could have done better.

I tried to persuade him of this by explaining how others have had the 
same success with respectful and factual emails.  In either case, any 
success is because some of us care deeply about the quality of the 
CPython distribution and want to encourage others to join in the enterprise.

> We've gone from rightly treating Ivan's post as intemperate and
> impolite, and telling him to chill, to calling his post "offensive", to
> "abusive".

Discursive writing has two components: content and tone.  I agree with 
you that the tone was not that bad.  But I am more concerned with 
content.  To me, posting disinformation to pydev *is* abusive of its 
'authoritativeness'.  This forum is read and mirrored around the world. 
People tend to believe what they read here.  Based on past events, I 
will not be surprised if someone somewhere, in a blog, talk, or SO 
answer, quotes Ivan as a reason to not use tkinter.

> (Next, I presume, someone will claim to be traumatised by
> Ivan's email.)

Yep, but not my concern here.

> Just as Ivan should have waited until he had calmed down before firing
> off his rant, so we ought to resist the temptation to strike back with
> hostility at trivial social transgressions, especially from newcomers.

Is disinformation and FUD really trivial?

> This is what Ivan actually said:
> - Tkinter is broken and partly functional (an opinion with only the
>    most tenuous connection with fact, but hardly abusive);
> - that nobody cares (factually wrong, but not abusive);
> - that possibly nobody is using it (factually wrong, but not abusive);

I previously responded to the first and second points above. As to the 
third, not only do many people use the tkinter-based IDLE and turtle 
frameworks (and many others), but as evidenced by Stackoverflow 
questions, some Python beginners dive into writing GUIs with tkinter 
after as little as 2 weeks exposure to Python.  Given that I ignored 
tkinter for over a decade, I am impressed at their boldness.

The following is a paraphrase of a combination of multiple things I have 
read and heard .  "Don't use IDLE.  Its buggy, not used much, and not 
maintained.  Someone said so on pydev."  Ivan saying the same about 
tkinter will possibly prompt others to imitate him.

> - that if that's the case (it isn't), then it should be removed
>    from the std lib (a reasonable suggestion if only the premise had
>    been correct).

I am dubious that Ivan actually believed what he wrote.  It looks more 
like rhetorical devices rather than factual claims. Yet many people 
responding here treated 'the case' as plausible.  This supports my 
contention that people tend to treat claims posted here as plausible and 
made in good faith.

> Intemperate and impolite it certainly was, as well as full of factual
> inaccuracies, but to call it "close to abusive" is a hostile over-
> reaction.

Dismissing as non-existent the hard work of volunteers tends to result 
in less volunteer work.  Given that 'factual inaccuracies' can have 
negative consequences for the future of CPython, I think a bit of 
hostility is appropriate.

> We ought to be kinder than that. Our response to Ivan has been
> more hostile, and less open and respectful, than his email that
> triggered the response.

I agree that too much attention was give to 'tone'.  I think too little 
was given to the validity of the claims.

Terry Jan Reedy