Pledge To Killfile Andrew Suffield

I will killfile Andrew Suffield so I do not recieve Debian list email from him but only if 100 other people on Debian lists will too.

-— Benjamin Mako Hill

I have created a pledge over at PledgeBank with the title above and am looking for your support. Here’s the explanatory text:

If you read the Debian private email list, you understand my immediate motivation for starting this pledge. If you do not but interact with the Debian community in other ways, there’s a good chance you can come up with many other examples of why agreeing to pledge might be a good idea.

I think the Debian project would be a better place if people stopped responding to comments that, in effect and often in intent, are little more than provocations, put-downs, and trolls. Andrew Suffield’s emails to Debian lists fall in this category all to often.

However, since responses that quote unecessarily provocative messages are visible by folks who have ignored the sender, blocking email from a person (also known as killfiling) only works if done en-mass.

While Andrew is by no means the only person whose comments have a disruptive effect on Debian lists, he is a one example of a person whose negative effect outweighs his positive contributions in the minds of many. While those fulfilling this pledge would miss Andrew’s positive contributions on the lists, I believe it would be worth it.

The point of course, is not to pick on Andrew Suffield. It’s just that his behavior makes him a good example.

The point is to raise a little awareness about (and get a few names behind) the feeling that messages that are not intending to troll can have the identical effects — and that perhaps the best policy is to treat them accordingly. If the only outcome is that people understand this, it will have been a success.

You can sign up for the pledge at:

6 Replies to “Pledge To Killfile Andrew Suffield”

  1. I understand your reasons, but I think killfiling people, and asking to
    do so in a public forum is not the right way to build a community.

    How would you feel if somebody asked the same for you?

    Sometime trolls are hard to stand (I’ve seen huge trolls, like the
    cdrecord author, and I’m not implying that as is a troll, I’ll let
    everyone jugde this), but when asking for action against them, you are
    doing exactly what they want.

  2. So here’s my little secret. I’m probably not going to killfile Andrew. I’ve never killfiled anyone and this isn’t the place the start.

    This is a (supposed to be humorous attempt) to get people to start thinking about the effects of replying to messages that are designed for (or will just have the effect of) provocation.

    If this happened to me, I would feel hurt and I would ask myself why someone would do this and then I return to the community with changed behavior. I hope this has the same effect.

    People have been hurt by Andrew. At least one person has orphaned packages and left the project as a result. I’m not sure how else to get the message to him that this harshness is just not alright with me.

  3. You are right, let’s hope that people that are in various ways very good for the Debian project can enhace their skills where they’re lacking.


  4. Even though this is brought up in an extreme way, i almost went and signed the pledge.

    I’ve never killfiled anyone either, i was about to after the comments started to go over the top on the thread in question.

    It’s sad to see someone leave the project because of these flamewars, i have been considering leaving the debian project too due to the increasing hostility in the community (not that i’ve been too active lately anyway). I know that the hostile ones are just individuals, but they still are the ones that keep standing out from the crowd.

    I think there is a need for a community filter type of solution, people can -1 or +1 posts in threads in a distributed manner. that way the best contributions in the thread would stand out and the worst of the thread would just get buried with the rest of the flames. It’s not easy to implement this kind of a thing, but it might be the time to start looking at somehting like this.

  5. I was at college with andrew, and even on a few of the same courses. From what i remember he was a completely unlikeable person.

  6. I think its amusing that you write a piece about ‘asuffield’ being a total asshole.

    Back in the day (and maybe still today), him and a bunch of other not-so-nice guys ran the #linux channel on EFnet.  They were famed for being channel-operators with the shortest fuses on the planet. One day they all (asuffiled, caphuso, mwilson, etc) moved over to #debian on freenode … the asshole’ness continues!

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