Gnome goes into "damage control" after dev gives rude reply on Bugzilla.
  • source:

    The power of social media definitely was not on Gnome's side today, as what was a simple and rather mundane bug report because the center stage for a short drama that spilled out onto Reddit and G+. The bug in question was YetAnotherFeatureRemoval issue where the user reported that the "background" tab in the terminal emulator has been removed and he could no longer enable transparency followed by a short, polite plea to bring this feature back. The developer's reply: "No."

    What then ensued was several replies about how rude it was to give such a terse answer. Several people replied stating that is was a major feature and that removing it caused them inconvenience. What is worse is that once this thread got linked to on Hacker News and Reddit, the bug got a lot of replies from angry users who pointed out that each release of Gnome sees reductions in major features to the point of being detrimental. So instead of a capitulation or even an apology, one of the major Gnome developers (Olav Vitters) decides to take action and ban anyone from the Gnome Bugzilla that makes any complaints about the original developer's decision or posts links to the bug report.
    Olav Vitters said:
    I'm not sure what people are trying to achieve, but anyone just trolling on
    Bugzilla and especially this bugreport will be banned outright. We (GNOME
    Bugzilla admins) already gave various warnings.

    Disagreeing with chpe or this decision is fine. Taking it to various forums and
    just trolling this bugreport is not.

    This is were one of the former developers of Fuduntu finally had it and decided to expose what was going on and replied:
    Andrew Wyatt said:
    Olav, don't be a douche. You can't expect people to not complain if the only
    answer given to a request to put back something that you've taken away with no
    valid reason is "No". These people aren't trolls, they are your user base - so
    start treating them like your users and not idiots.

    Christian, "No" is not an acceptable answer.]

    For this, I can safely assume he was probably banned. But the fact here is that Mr. Wyatt is right. As a major project and one that will be pushed as an "enterprise quality" level of software, Gnome 3 has significant flaws and missing parts. And really, this comes on the heels of Gnome 3.x actually achieving a level of usability.

    This is not the kind of attitude that any developers should take towards their users. To be treated as a trolls and deny tonhe user base of a heavily wanted or used feature without any explanation is wrong. To not advertise these feature removals in their release notes is even worse as one user points out. This whole incident pretty much sums up all of Gnome's problems right now. Their [the developers'] arrogance and outright hostility is killing off their user base.

    Now this actually comes right after I decided to finally cave in and give Gnome 3.6 on openSUSE a try. And you know what? I actually liked it! What got me to install it was a friend of mine wanted to see if I could figure a work around to get "Online Accounts" to sync with Google, and it was a bit of an arcane fix, but it works perfect. Overall, it is snappy, it just lacks the level of customization I really expect to see in a modern desktop environment. It is far too minimal in some aspects. It is, however, a breath of fresh air compared to KDE which quite frankly just feels over-engineered at this point. With Gnome, everything integrates nicely too, less distracting and ugly visual artifacts in Firefox, LibreOffice, and GTK applications.

    But seeing this really makes me question that decision to stay with using Gnome. Honestly, I think once 13.1 comes out I will probably install MATE on here and be done. Gnome's decision to strip down everything for the sake of being "minimal" and "simple" is hurting them. The even are working on a new music application with no features to replace Rhythmbox! One of the best music players out there and they really should be proud of what it has become. Instead, they feel it doesn't have that Gnome feel.

    That should all be really telling. I really hope that there is either a change in leadership or a change of heart at Gnome, because the direction they are taking the project is bad for Linux as a whole if that is how they are to treat their users.
    Post edited by faolan at 2013-05-13 02:05:35
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  • A follow-up to my story: it gets better. Apparently the background options were removed because they were using legacy dependencies and that removing them not only would increase performance, but also relieve then of these old dependencies that would only hinder future development.

    Now, I do not know how much of this is true, but as an optimist this is what I want to believe because this means that we may see these features return in 3.10 or 3.12 as they get ported over to work with the new libraries. If this is the case, then such a decision to temporarily remove these features is forgivable, however, what is not forgivable is the way the developers handled this whole situation.

    Instead of just "no," the developer should have have been more clear to the user that this was the case and that the feature might see its way back into gnome-terminal, just that it was not exactly given immediate priority (which it really should have). Olav's reply did not help matters either and instead of giving explanations he only added fuel to the fire. These two should really be reprimanded and issue an apology to the users involved as they made the entire Gnome development team look bad.

    What is worse is that Olav's insistence that this issue was not appropriate for mentioning on their bugzilla because it was not technically a bug. Yes, a feature removal is a bug, just not a technical one. It is a usability bug. This feature is expected to be there by a large portion of the user base and prematurely removing it did cause a lot of inconvenience. Not listing the change in the release notes of Gnome, the application itself, or even the git tree commits was reckless and childish. It is like they almost wanted to cover up the fact that the change was ever made in hopes nobody would notice. Why? Man up and put it in the release notes so that users are at least informed of the changes. That way they can evaluate their decisions preemptively instead of running into these kinds of surprises.

    And you know what, if you put it in the release notes and specified, then at least when the bug report eventually appeared they could just say: "We know and we are fixing a solution. This feature was temporarily removed to get rid of outdated dependencies. We should have a fix in release 3.X.X." Now doesn't that sound better?

    When taking a step back, it does not seem like this should have been a major issue. It was a minor change that was potentially being worked on and the developers blew up and at a few users in bugzilla over what was essentially nothing, and that is exactly what this problem is about, the response was totally out of context and unnecessary.

    This should really be an introspecting moment for Gnome and a lesson to other developers on how NOT to handle these kinds of issues and how to better plan for major changes in the future that might involve having to remove certain features.

    The Gnome team as a whole needs to take a moment of introspection and just looks at their creations from an unbiased perspective. Realize that using models from mobile platforms as designs is not a good thing when your target is the desktop. Instead they should be looking at the best applications on desktop operating systems and looking at how they can simplify those paradigms without making them so "minimal" as to be featureless. All this feature-cide is bad for Gnome's future because it it makes their platform less robust and whole. What next? Are they going to remove syntax highlighting in gedit?

    At this point many users probably would not be surprised, and the attitudes that the developers take towards their users do not help their cause. This incident just highlights this. We've been hearing a lot about red-lines in the news, and really the Gnome devs seemed to have have crossed it here with the Linux community as a whole here.

    Communication between users and developers is important here, and if anything this incident shows that Gnome is lacking a critical resource: a means for the users to candidly speak to developers about the UX and what kind of features should be implemented so that the Gnome experience is optimized with the user in mind. Secondly, a sense of honestly, humility, and etiquette is needed among the developers, so that things like this are handled in a manner that is positive rather than condescending.

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