Developer changes

As many of you may have noticed, we’ve had a number of conflicts surrounding the development of the MusicBrainz server source code. Open source developers must work to foster the community of their projects and work towards creating a consensus towards new/improved features.

After an increasing number of conflicts with the community Stefan was warned that his actions as a developer were not acceptable. After countless emails and a number of Skype calls I warned Stefan that the next time he participated in an escalation with one of the community members that I would remove his developer privileges.

Today another one of these escalations took place and I removed Stefan’s developer privileges.

As of right now, I will assume all duties of the MusicBrainz server developer. I will fix any remaining bugs, settle remaining conflicts and work to get the next bug update done as soon as possible. Fortunately now that I can devote all my time to MusicBrainz, I will have more time to devote to getting new server features coded.

With a heavy heart,

Evil Overlord

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18 thoughts on “Developer changes

  1. Brian G.

    sad.
    Since day one on MB my experience with the drama and altercations always seem to stem from the same camp of members of the community, no matter who the person escalating the instances are.
    You could probably count the number of them on two hands and I strongly believe that there is a silent majority in this community that agrees who they are.

    Who could blame a developer for being stressed or upset or over reacting when dealing with childish actions of closing their own bugs, wasting developers time, waiting until AFTER a test release goes live to test, constant snide comments, blame, whining, and over all negative attitudes, and even cussing the developer out when trying to talk things out?

    This reaction almost seems backwards.
    Though I do understand the developer had been warned, it’s too bad the developer is having action taken against them and no action taken against the people that continually are involved with the creation of the majority of the stress for people outside of the camp around here. Hopefully some action will be taken against any other people involved in the situation.. or at least it will maybe focus the attention of who to keep an eye out for as far as the source of the bullshit happening in the community.

    Those peoples actions from what I was told not only left MB without Stefan, but Luks as well.
    Really sad that MB has lost 2 developers in one day.

  2. keschte

    I’m not about to defend myself, since that might be interpreted as me acknowledging doing something wrong.

    for those who like to make up their minds about what happened, and who like to know what actually caused my developer status to be removed, read the chatlogs from yesterday [1]. I have been insulted numerous times by our valued community members, this is not why i joined this project for.

    a couple of lines below, i believe you can clearly see who is crossing the line, when they continue to argue with lukas about another ticket, without even considering the arguments he gave. [2]

    If rob does not acknowledge that, then it is his personal problem. This is hardly mayhem & chaos coordinating how he likes to call himself.

    regards, keschte

    [1] http://chatlogs.musicbrainz.org/2006/2006-08/2006-08-15.html#T14-27-20-905247
    [2] http://chatlogs.musicbrainz.org/2006/2006-08/2006-08-15.html#T16-08-01-617825

  3. azertus

    I cannot believe this situation resulted in keschte having his privileges removed.

    The way I see it (but hey, that’s just me), he was bugged to death by a small, very vocal, minority of the community. Maybe one shouldn’t BiteTheUsers, but why community members can BiteTheDevelopers al they want is beyond me. Of course, us, members of the community, have nothing to lose, whereas developers can apparently be punished for one miss-step and denied any future input in the project? In this case I can’t even see what the particular miss-step on keschte’s part would be? Did keschte say “fuck off” to inhuseuk? I don’t think so.

    I had no idea this was conflict was festering all this time. This is due to the fact most of these discussions took place on the two of the least used MB communication forums, i.e. IRC and definately the Trac ticket comments.

    I am sure that if this conflict had played out on the mailing list, we would’ve seen a lot more community members stepping up and turning the debate one way or another with _their_ arguments.

    For example the way ticket http://bugs.musicbrainz.org/ticket/2021 is presented is very one-sided. (two developers vs two, _non-representative_, users)

    I will see how this situation playes out, but I really don’t feel like contributing anymore to a project where users and developers are treated this way.

    I will try and halt (hey, I still love the MB idea(l), this won’t be easy) all my editing for now, and hope I can happily resume my editing one day. I surely understand why luks felt the need to give a very strong signal himself…

    PS: I tried my best to include linebreaks in this post, but that apparently didn’t work; sorry!

    [ed: I fixed the formatting of this comment]

  4. azertus

    Oookay, so apparently the Preview button doesn’t work as intended; sorry! (rob if you can edit it, please do)

  5. marcos

    This kind of public condemn should not happen in a open project like MB.
    In my humble opinion, public condemn and humiliation should not happen in a democratic world.
    This was a chaotic decision.

    for4saken

  6. Mayhem & Chaos

    Azertus:

    >In this case I can’t even see what the particular
    >miss-step on keschte’s part would be? Did keschte
    >say “fuck off” to inhuseuk? I don’t think so.

    Every time that Keschte got into an argument with someone in the community I followed up with Keschte asking him to change his behaviour, be less abrasive and generally coached him through the issues.

    As time went by and things didn’t improve I started giving him more stern warnings. Things didn’t improve until I told him that the next time he got into a heated discussion with someone (regardless of who) that I would remove his dev privs.

    Then Keschte improved for the last two weeks — until yesterday. Things blew up and I received email from community members about this conflict. And that was it — I think its unfortunate that inhouse had to call Keschte out like this.

    In essence, this is not a new situation. Its been like this for 6 weeks and it could not continue. I dislike having to do things like this, but I warned Keschte a number of times.

  7. Shepard

    > I am sure that if this conflict had played out on the mailing list, we would’ve seen a lot more community members stepping up and turning the debate one way or another with _their_ arguments.

    > For example the way ticket http://bugs.musicbrainz.org/ticket/2021 is presented is very one-sided. (two developers vs two, _non-representative_, users)

    See azertus, I heartfully agree here, I would really like to see the way, the community interacts with the developers / with the development process, changed. It is my strong believe that after all the software is coded _for the community_ but that doesn’t have to include sucking out developers. It would just mean equal rights for everyone (I avoid saying “for both sides” here), easier ways to take part in the development without being a developer and a more open development so that everyone can have their say. That will make the end result more satisfying for more people and will reduce stress afterwards.

    I tried to address this on the mailing list and although I gave my best to formulate it accurately and show the advantages, it was misunderstood every time as a try to mistreat the developers in some way. That’s very sad. I think it’s because – although people do listen – they still listen very subjective and biased (developers _and_ community members), so what they hear is what they expect to hear from you and not what you say.

    People think there are two “camps” fighting each other, but we are all individual people with our own opinions, we just got stuck in our subjectiveness.

  8. Keschte

    Robert, you have too high an opinion of your caching abilities in this. The good coaching was done by DonRedman, you are only trying to get things done like nothing ever happened. You are ignoring all the shit going on, and your affinities to the troublemakers are questionable. I do not deny me not being able to handle the discussions carefully (say, before 2 weeks ago), but the chatlog yesterday proves that i have not said a single word to inhouse to stir things up, quite the contrary. So, whatever makes you happy.

    Shepard, your ideas uncontestably sound good by all acounts, but i am afraid this is not how it works. What you are trying to do is to create politics; That works very well in theory, but issues take years to resolve until everybody is happy. This is a luxury such a project does not have — You were one of the perpetrators of the release disaster, and everything you publicly said afterwards has been taken in with that in mind. I suggest you do not act like you never knew…

  9. Shepard

    You do not need to accuse me for this, I know very well that, around the last server release, my tongue was lose in IRC and I have said things that weren’t nice. I don’t act like I don’t know.

    Though since then I have kept my feet down and reduced open communication to a minimum since I felt it wouldn’t work anyways. The only open message from me was the thread on mb-experts which was a try to help. Since we worked quite well together on the edit view enhancements I thought you had acknowledged my silence. I don’t want to step into all this trouble again, I just want people to work fine with each other and to respect that we all have different views.

    I guess the only way not to be accused and misunderstood any more is to stop talking saying anything in public completely. Since that way I couldn’t participate in this project any more, I can’t do it, because I don’t think all this leaving is going to help anyone but the persons who are leaving.

  10. Shepard

    See, my point is, it feels like I could say “Bananas are tasty!” and the response would be “wtf it’s one of the people on the bad guy list talking again, they surely want to accuse me”.

    All I want is that you forgive me and remove me from the bad guy list, so I have a chance to talk to you on a normal level again. I don’t want that everything I said is forgotten but I just don’t want it to influence the understanding of my words any more.

    As a start in that direction, I think the following words are the minimum I can say:
    Sorry, Stefan, for everything bad I said about you or your work. I appreciate what you have done for MB so far and I hope there will be more. If so, I will try my best to support it.

  11. Keschte

    Apologies accepted, Shepard. Its not like i cut you off or anything on the things you said — your intentions were good — but your timing was awful when you brought forward all these ideas how the process could be made better, it just couldn’t be appreciated as a positive effort – you have to know that not even Rob understand those efforts as what they were.

    During that time, support would possibly have been more appropriate. But well, things happen.

  12. matt

    I haven’t been around lately (diploma thesis, still), but I find it quite disturbing that Stefan was fired, especially in a way like this. I guess most people have not the slightest idea how much effort he put into the server; it was a lot more than anyone else during the last year and without doubt the positive things outweigh by far.

    In a normal open source project, it’s the developer’s choice what to implement and how to do it. People who do more work should also be able to do things their way. We’re not paid after all and we participate because it’s fun. Listening to users and their wishes is something you have to get money for (or be as idealistic as Rob).

    Personally, I have taken the consequences and stopped all server coding almost two years ago and decided to work on client side libraries instead (pymb2, libdiscid) which have no community interaction whatsoever. Luks helped me there and it’s a shame he was scared away. He is one of the best developers who have ever worked for MB.

    The problem MB has so few developers (*one* currently!) is that so many users get dragged over from the editing MB business to the writing-proposals-and-bugging-people business. There are lots of people who can code (maybe not in the required languages, but you can learn, right? Stefan did that, btw) but are just too lazy. In the average OS project, I’d just ignore them. In MB, it doesn’t seem to be possible.

  13. Shepard

    > Listening to users and their wishes is something you have to get money for (or be as idealistic as Rob).

    I think thinking it can go on in the current way is idealistic.

    > The problem MB has so few developers (*one* currently!) is that so many users get dragged over from the editing MB business to the writing-proposals-and-bugging-people business.

    The community is not only here to play the little working ants who do nothing but edit releases. For some people, writing proposals and working out the details together with a developer is the only thing they can do. Calling this “bugging” instead of appreciating it is nothing I would call community-compatible.

    > There are lots of people who can code (maybe not in the required languages, but you can learn, right? Stefan did that, btw) but are just too lazy. In the average OS project, I’d just ignore them. In MB, it doesn’t seem to be possible.

    You have said this way to often now and it gets impertinently. You call people lazy without knowing _anything_ about them and their lives.

    I value your skills as a developer and your “laboriousness”, but your sociality related comments are a bit too Holzhammer-like for my taste.

  14. matt

    The MB community has so far managed to scare away every single major developer except Rob. But still there’s no desire to switch to a more successful, proven development model: The standard open source meritocracy.

    Many developers are interested in designing solutions their way, not implementing other people’s ideas. There are tasks in MB which benefit from a mixed user-developer team, however, I’ve found those to be the minority. In most cases, it works better to present the rough idea to a fellow developer, see what he thinks and then go for it. Afterwards you can start the testing process and ask the community for feedback. This is how many OS projects handle things and it works most of the time. Otherwise you don’t get things done because everybody wants their pony.

    Regarding the laziness I mentioned: If you don’t want to code or can’t, for whatever reason, that’s fine. No problem with that, but then you have to accept that your role in the development process is a limited one and you can’t make decisions or bind people’s attention in long discussions. There are members in the community who don’t want to accept that and think just because they’ve been around for a while they have the final word.

    @Shepard: I know you study computer science, so you should be qualified to pick up a programming language or technology quickly. You obviously have the time to work out detailed proposals, so why don’t you get your feet wet? You’ll soon notice the difference in working time between a bug report and a bug fix (not to mention feature requests). You can’t expect others to do all the implementation work.

    Oh, and about calling me impertinent: You might want to check your own style of communication some time.

  15. Shepard

    I don’t expect anyone to do the implementation. If they do it, I’m happy. If not, it’s bad luck. And as far as I’m concerned I also don’t demand to have the final say in anything.

    I still think calling others lazy without knowing anything about them is impertinent, sorry if that sounds like an affront to you. You said to me what I should be able to do and what I should do quite often now without knowing anything about me but that I study computer sciences.

  16. matt

    If you don’t expect anyone to implement your proposals, then you’ve concealed this pretty well. I’d like to remind you about all that tagger script and schema redesign lobbying. People might have gotten a different idea.

    Also, I’m getting a bit tired of you freaking out each time someone asks you to help out in development. Whatever your reasons are, if it’s just laziness or “the circumstances”, I don’t care, the result is the same. I’m not keen on working with you anyway.

  17. Shepard

    Look, I don’t know what you’re about. I’m not freaking out when someone’s asking to help me. I’m annoyed with you repeatedly saying “you should be able to do this and that”.

    I didn’t do lobbying for my proposals, I proposed them, some people liked them and so it seems they will probably get implemented some day. I’m happy about that, of course. And I’d like to work out the details with the developers. But I’m not demanding that they will be implemented that way. And I don’t expect it to happen tomorrow.

    And it’s not like I want to work with you, or you want to work on the server. So that last remark was kinda unnecessary.

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