Polite and Reasoned Discourse

Summary:The Linux community is under attack again for the behavior of a few individuals. ZDNet UK talks to Laura DiDio, an analyst for the Yankee Group, who is complaining that she's been ridiculed and harassed by Linux users who don't like what she's had to say.

The Linux community is under attack again for the behavior of a few individuals. ZDNet UK talks to Laura DiDio, an analyst for the Yankee Group, who is complaining that she's been ridiculed and harassed by Linux users who don't like what she's had to say.

"There's an extremist fringe of Linux loonies who hang out on forums and are disrespectful and threatening because you disagree with them," DiDio told ZDNet UK on Wednesday. "That can hurt the Linux community."

DiDio feels she has been unfairly criticised on open source forums, including being nicknamed DiDiot, and has even had Linux advocates contacting her at home. "I've had these nut jobs calling me at 11 o'clock at night," said DiDio.

It truly is a shame that there are some members of the Linux community that would call and harass someone like DiDio. As for criticism on online forums... I take that with a grain of salt, given that online discussion forums tend to attract, shall we say, less than reasoned and polite discourse from supporters of Linux and Microsoft.

This criticism also strikes me as somewhat unreasonable, as it seems that DiDio and others are holding the entire Linux community responsible for the behavior of a very small subset of the community. The discussion strikes me as one-sided, since I've seen plenty of comments from pro-Microsoft / anti-Linux "extremists" that are as uncouth and immature as anything spouted by the overzealous Linux supporters. Should all Windows users be judged by Steve Ballmer calling Linux "a cancer" or communism? I suppose it's considered differently when it's a CEO doing the trash-talking.

While I agree that the behavior of some Linux "extremists" is undesirable, and downright reprehensible in the case of anyone who would call and harass someone at home, I'm not quite sure what can be done to control the behavior of a few bad apples. There is no "Linux Supporter Membership Card" that can be revoked to rebuke an "extremist's" actions.

What do you think? Are the "extremists" really such a problem for Linux, or is DiDio just thin-skinned? (Or both?) If extremists are causing problems for Linux, what can the majority do to quash the problem?

Topics: Operating Systems

About

Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier is the community manager for openSUSE, a community Linux distro sponsored by Novell. Prior to joining Novell, Brockmeier worked as a technology journalist primarily covering the Linux and FOSS beat, and wrote for a number of publications, such as Linux Magazine, Linux.com, Sys Admin, UnixReview.com, IBM developer... Full Bio

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