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Re: [Nmh-workers] Understanding nmh (aka. What's the goal) [ really non-

From: Ken Hornstein
Subject: Re: [Nmh-workers] Understanding nmh (aka. What's the goal) [ really non-ASCII message bodies ]
Date: Thu, 09 Dec 2010 12:42:51 -0500

>Sure, but reading this list for several years I have the impression,
>that more effort goes into finding consensus than on writing code.

I guess that's a fair criticism, but I think that's unavoidable with
a software project in this situation.

Remember that the ORIGINAL MH was developed in 1979.  So we've got a
software package that's over 30 years old; that's ... what, 3 lifetimes
in terms of Internet time? :-)  The original people aren't involved
anymore.  Well, okay, John Romine is still around (nice to hear from you!),
and we've seen messages from Norman Shapiro not too long ago.  Jerry
Peek is a lurker who pops up now and then.  Richard Coleman, the guy who
forked nmh, isn't doing that anymore.  So, the question THEN becomes ...
who's in charge of nmh?

Is it me?  Is it Jon Steinhart?  Is it Peter Maydell?  We're all listed
as nmh admins on the savannah web pages, but are we "in charge"?  I
think if one of us wanted to be in charge, the others wouldn't fight it
too much.  I think (but I don't want to speak for the others) that our
personalities don't work that way; each of us wants nmh to succeed, but
nmh isn't quite important enough to us to devote the time/energy to be
the guy who is willing to adhere to a vision and occasionally run
roughshod over the objections of others (because, in my mind, that
really is what being in charge means: occasionally you're going to have
to be the asshole).

So, we're in a situation where nmh works in a certain way; we want to
change it, but we don't know how that change will affect others.  So we
solicit feedback and try to build a consensus for a change.  Because in
my mind, nmh really belongs to everyone; while I may (occasionally)
shepherd it in a particular direction, I want it to succeed so that others
find it useful, and to do that I need to make sure that other people find
it useful as well.

Also, given the fact that (n)mh is 30+ years old, people have strong
opinions about the way it should work; I do try to be sensitive to
that, and I think others feel the same way as well.  So it's a
balancing act between the way MH currently works versus the way it should
work, and of course not everyone agrees on the way it SHOULD work.  Add
to that the fact that most of us have lives not in front of a computer,
and we're working on nmh in our free time, and people tend to be
focused on what is important to them personally rather than the long-term

>All I wanted to say is: This situation encourages people to think of
>work arounds instead of reporting bugs. So the fact that no bugs were
>reported is very weak evidence that everybody agrees on the current

I for one understand that.  I don't necessarily think that people are
happy with the way nmh works, but that's why we're having these
conversations - to figure out nmh SHOULD work.  I think that's an
inefficiency we have to live with, unless someone wants to step up
and be the occasional asshole.


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