[sf-lug] Edward Janne's Final Questionnaire for Cultural Anthropology

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Aug 4 00:13:13 PDT 2009

Actually, Jesse, I thought I'd share with you one of the lesser but
illuminating sidelights to this discussion:  

Edward had blithely jumped from the ongoing public mailing list thread
quite a number of times -- never with any "Oh, by the way, in case you
hadn't noticed, just so you're not taken by surprise:  I've just dropped
the mailing list address from my distribution headers.  The reason I
suddenly need to hold a private side-conversation with you is [foo]."

Dropping without explanation into private mail from an ongoing thread
is mildly annoying and clueless, because it ignores why one was _in_
that public thread:  to participate in a community, for the public's
benefit -- not to donate free-of-charge private consulting to strangers
at their whims.  However, that sadly common misbehaviour is not my

My point is what Edward (eventually) chose to say while chewing up my
time in one particular uninvited private side-conversation.  He started
by saying he'd been reading "How to Ask Questions the Smart Way" (the
essay I co-wrote with Eric Raymond), and so asked my permission to
"quote the book" for his paper, because he said he was "really just
looking for an explanation for your ...uhm ... style."

That cute very-slightly-concealed gratuitous attempt at an insult isn't
my point, either.

I ignored the bait, and said he _probably_ meant the _essay_ "How to Ask
Questions the Smart Way", which despite grievous verbosity is at least
not a book.  I gently pointed out that, if he seriously intended to
"quote _the essay_", i.e., the whole thing, then Eric's licence terms
_right in the essay_ should cover it, and that he maybe should read them
and see if they did.  (I didn't even dwell on the fact that they're
right near the top.)  I added that his quoting brief excerpts for
scholarship or review would need no permission:  That's fair use.

Edward's inability to tell an essay from a book, or bother to read a
licence right near the top, or distinguish quoting an essay from quoting
_from_ an essay, aren't my point, either.

I pointed out to Edward that he couldn't study my "...uhm ... style"
using that particular essay, because it's _co-authored_.  (By way of
example, I cited one aspect of the piece that's pure Eric and nothing
I'd ever say.)

My point is what he replied to that -- while he was busy chewing up my
time in an uninvited side-conversation:

   "Plausible deniability is wonderful to have."

Overall, I regret having tried to help the punk.

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