On Toxicity on LKML

Sarah Sharp quit, publicly.

Just to be clear: I don't know her personally. The closest link she and I ever had was that I participated in Outreachy (formally known as Outreach Program for Women) as a mentor, where she had been one of the coordinators for some time.

I do, however, have a lot of sympathy for her. And I would say I agree, to some degree, what she said in her blog post. The toxicity on LKML is appalling. Luckily I wasn’t on the receiving end of any of those, but even as a bystander I felt it was too much every time I saw crude rudeness. In short, LKML never ceased to amaze me on the level of rudeness.

And it becomes increasingly clear to me that many LKML users (not necessarily Linux kernel developers) are seeing rudeness as necessity to ensure code quality. If you don’t believe me, just look at comment section under Sarah's story on LWN.net.

I firmly believe that an open source community should be blunt to technical issues but respectful to people. I use that as my guideline to deal with people in my day to day work. As someone who has been making a living by contributing to a number of open source projects, I start to question whether it is worth putting more effort in Linux kernel development. But then I realise I’ve already been retreating from Linux kernel development long time ago. The decision was made subconsciously without me even noticing it. Of course I still work on it when I’m paid to do so, but other than that, I don’t think I will spend my spare time on it anymore.