Incidents, once in a while

Frans Englich frans.englich at
Wed Sep 1 21:13:49 BST 2004

Hello all,

I'm posting this because I think it's healthy if this conflict is reviewed by 
the community's wide audience. I think criticism and inspection is good. 
Further, I'm stuck and don't know how to continue.

It's about the mail exchanges I and Aaron have had on various lists about 
different topics. One topic have been my recent work on the HIG: I converted 
the guidelines to docbook, moved them from to, and sanity edited it to bring out the content(but it still 
says the same). This was some of Aaron's reactions:

"due to acting independently and out of sync with the rest of the project.
[...] this is not the sort of endeavour that one person can simply plow ahead 
and do;

seriously.... stop this. if you don't, i will simply seek other measures to 
ensure you do such as restricting your rights to commit to 

by not doing this you seriously degrade the respectability of the usability 
project and make me question your ability to work with the rest of us in this 

"this fork of the User Interface Guidelines is retrograde to the usability 

"preferably Frans would coordinate with what's happening elsewhere in the 
project rather than simply plowing ahead."[3]

In a nut shell, Aaron said I worked in isolation, ignored people's input, and 
worked on a project which people didn't want. My replies[4] to those 
assertions outlined quotes which clearly indicated cooperation, and that the 
HIG project had been mentioned on several lists and people have been positive 
and helped with the work. Nothing indicates what Aaron claimed. Of course, 
anyone is welcome to question, and bring again that up to discussion again.

What Aaron also stated was for example "if it's meant to be a replacement",[3] 
despite all my comments have indicated it was the same HIG, such as the 
initial commit - "converted to Docbook XML 4.3, combined with a move to", plus, that numerous people liked it, and hence was not 
percepted as a fork. In other words, it is deliberate, conscious statements 
which does not reflect facts; popularly called FUD.

Let's move on. In the thread where Aaron, in the name of the people 
participating in the usability tracks on aKademy, presented[5] what was 
concluded at the meetings, I responded[6]:

I started the KDE Usability Articles project, which 
exactly aims for taking care of the why/rationalis-side of usability -- a 
documentation platform which people can "learn" usability, find inspiration 
and on the shoulders of giants invent new things.[...]

(the grayed out articles are written, I've just not found the time for feeding 
them for review, due to finishing the HIG in time for aKademy)

It was announced on kde-core-devel/kde-usability 2(?) months ago, and there 
have been about 3 threads about it on kde-usability. What are your plans with 
the KUA, considering the other documentation efforts?

Aaron replied:
"i think that by simply going ahead and pretending to represent KDE's 
usability processes, including writing articles that are, quite frankly, 
embarrassing to those involved in the project is not useful and in fact hurts 
our efforts. i have no plans for KUA at this point due to this and due to 
your limited knowledge in the field that is directly reflected by your solo 
efforts in this regard. we have several usability professionals that are 
getting involved in KDE usability and KUA does nothing to enable this 

The reply was in many ways similar to the one about the HIG.

All semantical changes I've done to KUA have been posted on kde-usability(as 
patches to my own work and links) and I can't think of anything which 
indicates a resistance to cooperation from my side. This was also mentioned in 
the post Aaron replied to, and Aaron also reads kde-usability. Still he 
writes that reply. 
People have expressed positiveness towards the project, and suggestions and 
patches have been contributed. I can't see anything that indicates I pretend 
to "represent KDE's usability processes", or have been doing "solo efforts in 
this regard". I have been doing the majority of the work, but that's of 
course a different matter.

The usability discussions on aKademy focused on documentation, and KDE 
Usability articles is a highly relevant major project already running. Aaron 
knew about it, but from what I can tell, it wasn't brought up for 
coordination at those discussions.

The KUA project involves tons of work, but that doesn't hinder Aaron from 
saying "i have no plans for KUA," essentially saying it should be deleted. It 
is great people realize KDE needs usability documentation, but that shouldn't 
be done on the expense of projects and people who realized, and started 
working on it months before. We need dialog.

Another topic have been KControl. Aaron have been an ardent criticizer of 
KControl prototypes written by for example me or Benjamin M., such as the 
generic comment(which again is the usual downturning of ideas without 
motivating why):

"several important items have been missed in the current kcontrol revisions 
various people have come up with. you've also hit home on several things."

This rather consistent view caused me to write:
"Aaron, you opposes a [...] approach, [...], but we don't know what solution 
you have in mind, and what it practically means. What we know is our 
proposals are wrong, but you haven't shown what is better. Could you do an 
exact description of the solution you prefer [...] or a prototype, like 
others have done? That would bring new ideas, something to actually shoot 
down and show what you actually are talking about."[8]

Aaron replied:
"i've posted such things to this list numerous times. that's why we have, and why we should try and remember past conversations as much 
as possible."

And that creates a gap between Aaron who is right, and all others whose ideas 
are wrong, and are left in the archive, with no links or pointers. I also 
doubt the statement; there have certainly been email's, but concrete plain 
text/html documents and code(literally) such as Benjamin, Jamethiel or I have 
provided, I haven't seen Aaron propose.
And I have been involved in the list just as much as Aaron, the code in the 
new_kcm_code branch, and the (outdated) comments in kdebase/kcontrol/TODO is 
built from the ideas/feedback on that list.

But what happens instead? One can read in main stream media that the new 
KControl will have search as it primary interface -- which Aaron likes. All 
others have posted on the list their ideas, and met the criticism and 
feedback. Imagine the reaction, contrasting what Aaron writes about KUA and 
my HIG work, if I had hooked up a reporter and said something random about 
the new_kcm_code branch/whatever.

The common denominator in Aaron's statements isn't "I think it can be done in 
a better way because <motivation>, and I suggest instead <alternative 
solution>. Feedback appreciated," but it is instead... insults. They are not 
productive or constructive because they concern that people are bad, are not 
wanted and hurts KDE, instead of discussing issues and matters(and their 
drawbacks). No matter what way one turn it, it is unstrategic.

Why do Aaron react as he do? I have my theories, but I think they wouldn't 

I also need help with continuing this; If anyone have ideas how I can achieve 
a productive discussion about for example KUA with respect to other 
documentation efforts, without getting told to go hide under a rock.

Call it a rant, but I write this because I think it needs exposure. It smells 
a long way.

(The discussion of whether KUA is good/bad and how it can be combined with 
other efforts, is another discussion, but it would amaze me if it would 
be strategic to throw a feature complete and bug free framework with Docbook 
lying beneath, in the bit bucket. Seeing people joining is of course great, 
but what the aKademy people concluded is what I've already done and started 
working on months ago, roughly speaking. This needs discussion, with 
motivations and reasoning to what will happen no matter what; feel free to 
follow up in a new thread or the "KDE HIG, CIG and AG" thread on 








I can't find them, the archive appears incomplete.. The mails have the titles 
in the style of "Re: KDE Doc: Content of the HIG" and is in the "KDE HIG, CIG 
and AG" thread on kde-core-devel and kde-usability, high up. 



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