When “communities” pick their friends and enemies

I recently had a run in with one of the “leaders” of a cluster management system. This person decided I went over the line in reporting on a security issue, our forensics, and how to go about helping prevent it in the future. Previously, I had been warned for daring to point to a benchmark document.

Despite being a contributer to and a supporter of this technology, this offering, having written articles on it for magazine publication, having helped many customers use it … this “leader” decided that I had crossed a line. And another “leader” suggested (ignoring the years of past history) that, and I quote, “put oars into the water.”

Well it is “their” community, they can accept people or drive them away as they wish. Speaking with (quite a few) people driven out of this community, it seems that they are highly selective (and quite inconsistent).

While we are now verboten from submitting to this list without the “leaders” approval, they happily let commercial vendors say what they wish. Somewhat subtracts from the argument that they wish to prevent the commercial hawking of a product.

I have a mail just arrived from a vendor on that list where they hawk their own product.

Something that was made quite clear to me was strictly verboten.

Maybe, it is just verboten for me?

Just remember, when you join a community, you have people you like, and people you don’t. You can ignore the people you don’t like. Or if you are a leader of the community, you can invoke your deity-like powers and censor what is written. And this results in the formation of an echo chamber. Which is not good for the health of the community.

Also not good for communities: when you start attacking your biggest supporters. Pretty good way to lose constituency and interest.

We are now looking at alternatives. I had good discussions about this stuff with some former colleagues. We have our own system which happily handles everything we throw at it (Tiburon) and is (in our opinion) far more flexible than the other system (we are one of the few groups that can boot diskless SuSE, Ubuntu, etc clusters, quickly and easily). But there are larger communities around another set of products that we are going to look into.

We will not likely advocate using this groups tools going forward, as we cannot guarantee that our users and customers will not experience the same mis-treatment we have. Their behavior was wrong at many levels, and it does indeed sadden me … especially considering all the time/effort/resources we put in … all the oars in the water … over the years.

Such is life.

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