bleh May 30, 2022 on Drew DeVault's blog

A few weeks ago, the maintainer of a project on SourceHut stepped down from their work, citing harassment over using SourceHut as their platform of choice. It was a difficult day when I heard about that.

Over the past few weeks, I have been enduring a bit of a depressive episode. It’s a complex issue rooted in several different problems, but I think a major source of it is the seemingly constant deluge of hate I find myself at the receiving end of online. I had to grow a thick skin a long time ago, but lately it has not been thick enough. I am finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with my work.

Perhaps it this has something to do with the backlash, not just against me and my work, but against others who use and participate in that work. It’s not enough to dislike my programming language, but the skeptics must publicly denounce it and discourage others from using it. It’s irresponsible, if not immoral, to design a language without a borrow checker in 2022. SourceHut’s email-oriented approach might not be for everyone, and instead of simply not using it, skeptics must harass any projects that do. This kind of harassment is something I hear about often from many maintainers of projects on SourceHut. It breaks my heart and I feel helpless to do anything about it.

I’m also often dealing with harassment directed at me alone. When I complained this week about being DDoSed by a company with over a billion dollars in annual revenue, it was portrayed as righteous retribution and a sign of incompetence. I can’t even count the number of times someone has said they would refuse to use SourceHut (and that you, too, dear reader, should avoid it) on the sole basis that I’m involved with it. There is a steady supply of vile comments about me based on “facts” delivered from the end of a game of telephone in which every participant hates my guts, all easily believable without further research because I’m such a villainous character. Every project I work on, every blog post I write, even many of the benign emails to public lists or GitHub issues I open — the response is just vitriol.

I have made no shortage of mistakes, and there are plenty of hurt feelings which can be laid at my feet. I am regretful for my mistakes, and I have worked actively to improve. I think that it has been working. Perhaps that’s arrogant of me to presume, but I’m not sure what else to do. Must I resign myself to my fate for stupid comments I made years ago? I’m sorry, and I’ve been working to do better. Can I have another chance?

For some I think the answer is “no”. Many of my detractors just want me to shut up. No more blog posts, no new projects. Just go away, Drew.

Well, I can’t say it’s not working. This stuff gets to me. At times like this I have very little motivation to work. If you’re looking for a strategy to get me to shut up, just ensure that I have a constant flow of toxic comments to read.

I love writing code, at least most of the time. I believe in my principles and I enjoy writing software that embodies them. I love doing it, and I’m really good at it, and thousands of people are depending on my work.

I’m doing the work that I believe in, and working with people who share those values. I have worked very hard for that privilege. I’m sorry that it’s not good enough for many people. I’m just trying to do my best. And if you must harass anyone over it, at least harass me, and not anyone else. My inbox is at sir@cmpwn.com, and I promise that I will read your email and cry, so that no one else has to.

I’ll close by thanking those who have sent me positive notes. Some of these comments are very touching. If you’ve sent one of these, you have my thanks. Love you :)

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