Re: Allow donations for precise bugs

I realized the response I wrote below was overly sarcastic.  It's not
personal, I'm just tired and cranky.  ;-)

On Sat, 2005-03-12 at 22:25 +0100, Maurizio Colucci wrote:
> Sean Middleditch wrote:
> > This is a very bad idea for one primary reason.  Users often request
> > insanely stupid features.  This isn't a "the user doesn't have a
> > problem" - it's, "the user invents a solution to their problem and
> > specifically requests that single solution, instead of identifying their
> > problem to the developers and letting the developer find a more optimal
> > solution."
> Sean, this seems dangerous thinking to me. Your position is similar to 
> rejecting democracy because "only few people are intelligent enough to decide 
> how the world should be governed".

My personal opinion of democracy (or a republic - there's almost no real
democracies in government) aside, do keep in mind that how you govern
10,000,000 citizens of a country and how you develop software are not
the same in any way.

> It's true that the majority of people rarely takes the best path, yet 
> democracy is the best compromise, because most of the time a decent path is 
> chosen by the masses.

GNOME isn't and never was a democracy.  Open Source is not a democracy.
Democracy doesn't come anywhere near good software development.  Open
Source, and GNOME in particular, is a MERITocracy.

Users know that they want an easy to use operating system that
facilitates getting their goals accomplished.  They do NOT know how to
go about doing that.

When a user places a feature request saying, "I need to get photos off
my camera and organize them," THAT is an excellent feature request.  It
explicitly states the problem and lets someone who knows what the heck
they're doing come up with a good solution.  When a user places a
feature request saying, "Make Nautilus access a camera URI and have a
dialog that pops up asking for keywords for each photo in that folder,"
you have a horrible feature request, because it really doesn't describe
what the user actually wants and is an incredibly stupid way to go about
getting and organizing photos in any case.  Unfortunately, the vast
majority of feature requests are more like the second example.

It's vital that GNOME listens to its users' needs if it's to remain
useful and relevant.  Since users' needs to not at all correlate to the
features that users request, because feature requests are usually
requests for technical implementation details that may or may not be an
ideal way to meet the users' needs, it is equally vital that GNOME be
free to ignore specific feature requests and concentrate instead on
providing the best solutions possible.

If you want to help open more communication between users and
developers, that's excellent.  But it's naive to think that feature
requests placed by regular users are useful communication at all.  You
could help out by digging through feature requests and talking with the
submitter to find out WHY they want that feature, what its real purpose
is, and perhaps offering alternative feature requests.  That does
require that you have good people skills, are experienced in
communicating with non-technical people about technical problems, and
have a deep understanding of software and GNOME technologies in
particular.  It's those requirements that probably indicate why, more
often than not, a feature request just gets rejected and users feel like
nobody cares about their needs.  The developers don't have the time or
communication skills to open an effective dialog with the user and find
a more optimal solution.  It's hard work and few people are capable of
doing it.

As another point against donating to bugs, you STILL haven't taken into
consideration the problem that the people who even *know* about the bug
tracker, much less ever use it, are not the average folks.  It's a very,
very small minority of the user base.  So even if you did care about
democracy, donating to bugs is very far from it, as its biased and
discriminates against a large group of users.  It's a method to let the
Slashdot crowd decide how GNOME would work for the hundreds of thousands
(millions now?) of GNOME users the world over who don't even know what
GNOME is (the company employees, bank tellers, school students and
faculty members, etc.).

> In other words, the problem you raise does not really exist because, if a 
> feature has been accepted by the majority (democratic voting), then it will 
> not be so stupid as you claim it will be.

The majority of people use Microsoft Windows, use IE, think viruses and
spyware "would never happen to them," think secure passwords are a waste
of time, think installing random software off the net is OK... but hey,
they're right, because they're the majority.

If GNOME were a democracy, the software would have sank into a useless
pile of bloated mis-design years ago.  I know the maintainers are clear
thinkers, resistant to pressure, and more interested in correct design
than in political amity.  Those are the people you want running a
software project.  Not politicians.  ;-)

Sean Middleditch <elanthis awesomeplay com>

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