Tag life

Latest posts for tag life

2017-08-13 16:26:40+02:00

Consensually doing things together?

On 2017-08-06 I have a talk at DebConf17 in Montreal titled "Consensually doing things together?" (video). Here are the talk notes.


At DebConf Heidelberg I talked about how Free Software has a lot to do about consensually doing things together. Is that always true, at least in Debian?

I’d like to explore what motivates one to start a project and what motivates one to keep maintaining it. What are the energy levels required to manage bits of Debian as the project keeps growing. How easy it is to say no. Whether we have roles in Debian that require irreplaceable heroes to keep them going. What could be done to make life easier for heroes, easy enough that mere mortals can help, or take their place.

Unhappy is the community that needs heroes, and unhappy is the community that needs martyrs.

I’d like to try and make sure that now, or in the very near future, Debian is not such an unhappy community.

Consensually doing things together

I gave a talk in Heidelberg.

Valhalla made stickers

Debian France distributed many of them.

There's one on my laptop.

Which reminds me of what we ought to be doing.

Of what we have a chance to do, if we play our cards right.

I'm going to talk about relationships. Consensual relationships.

Relationships in short.

Nonconsensual relationships are usually called abuse.

I like to see Debian as a relationship between multiple people.

And I'd like it to be a consensual one.

I'd like it not to be abuse.


From wikpedia:

In Canada "consent means…the voluntary agreement of the complainant to engage in sexual activity" without abuse or exploitation of "trust, power or authority", coercion or threats.[7] Consent can also be revoked at any moment.[8]»

There are 3 pillars often included in the description of sexual consent, or "the way we let others know what we're up for, be it a good-night kiss or the moments leading up to sex."

They are:

  • Knowing exactly what and how much I'm agreeing to
  • Expressing my intent to participate
  • Deciding freely and voluntarily to participate[20]

Saying "I've decided I won't do laundry anymore" when the other partner is tired, or busy doing things.

Is different than saying "I've decided I won't do laundry anymore" when the other partner has a chance to say "why? tell me more" and take part in negotiation.



Debian is the Universal Operating System.

Debian is made and maintained by people.

The long term health of debian is a consequence of the long term health of the relationship between Debian contributors.

Debian doesn't need to be technically perfect, it needs to be socially healthy.

Technical problems can be fixed by a healty community.

graph showing relationship between avoidance, accomodation, compromise, competition, collaboration

The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument: source png.


Quick poll:

What are your motivations to be in a relationship?

Which of those motivations are healthy/unhealthy?

"Galadriel" (noun, by Francesca Ciceri): a task you have to do otherwise Sauron takes over Middle Earth

See: http://blog.zouish.org/nonupdd/#/22/1

What motivates me to start a project or pick one up?

What motivates me to keep maintaning a project?

What motivates you?

What's an example of a sustainable motivation?

Is it really all consensual in Debian?


Energy that thing which is measured in spoons. The metaphore comes from people suffering with chronic health issues:

"Spoons" are a visual representation used as a unit of measure used to quantify how much energy a person has throughout a given day. Each activity requires a given number of spoons, which will only be replaced as the person "recharges" through rest. A person who runs out of spoons has no choice but to rest until their spoons are replenished.

For example, in Debian, I could spend:

What is one person capable of doing?

Have reasonable expectations, on others:

Have reasonable expectations, on yourself:

Debian is a shared responsibility

When spoons are limited, what takes more energy tends not to get done

As the project grows, project-wide tasks become harder

Are they still humanly achievable?

I don't want Debian to have positions that require hero-types to fill them

Dictatorship of who has more spoons:


You are in a relationship that is just perfect. All your friends look up to you. You give people relationship advice. You are safe in knowing that You Are Doing It Right.

Then one day you have an argument in public.

You don't just have to deal with the argument, but also with your reputation and self-perception shattering.

One things I hate about Debian: consistent technical excellence.

I don't want to be required to always be right.

One of my favourite moments in the history of Debian is the openssl bug

Debian doesn't need to be technically perfect, it needs to be socially healthy, technical problems can be fixed.

I want to remove perfectionism from Debian: if we discover we've been wrong all the time in something important, it's not the end of Debian, it's the beginning of an improved Debian.

Too good to be true

There comes a point in most people's dating experience where one learns that when some things feel too good to be true, they might indeed be.

There are people who cannot say no:

There are people who cannot take a no:

Note the diversity statement: it's not a problem to have one of those (and many other) tendencies, as long as one manages to keep interacting constructively with the rest of the community

Also, it is important to be aware of these patterns, to be able to compensate for one's own tendencies. What happens when an avoidant person meets a narcissistic person, and they are both unaware of the risks?


Note: there are problems with the way these resources are framed:

Red flag / green flag


Ask for examples of red/green flags in Debian.

Green flags:

Red flags:

Apologies / Dealing with issues

I don't see the usefulness of apologies that are about accepting blame, or making a person stop complaining.

I see apologies as opportunities to understand the problem I caused, help fix it, and possibly find ways of avoiding causing that problem again in the future.

A Better Way to Say Sorry lists a 4 step process, which is basically what we do when in bug reports already:

1, Try to understand and reproduce the exact problem the person had. 2. Try to find the cause of the issue. 3. Try to find a solution for the issue. 4. Verify with the reporter that the solution does indeed fix the issue.

This is just to say

My software ate
the files
that where in
your home directory

and which
you were probably
for work

Forgive me
it was so quick to write
without tests
and it worked so well for me

(inspired by a 1934 poem by William Carlos Williams)

Don't be afraid to fail

Don't be afraid to fail or drop the ball.

I think that anything that has a label attached of "if you don't do it, nobody will", shouldn't fall on anybody's shoulders and should be shared no matter what.

Shared or dropped.

Share the responsibility for a healthy relationship

Don't expect that the more experienced mates will take care of everything.

In a project with active people counted by the thousand, it's unlikely that harassment isn't happening. Is anyone writing anti-harassment? Do we have stats? Is having an email address and a CoC giving us a false sense of security?

When you get involved in a new community, such as Debian, find out early where, if that happens, you can find support, understanding, and help to make it stop.

If you cannot find any, or if the only thing you can find is people who say "it never happens here", consider whether you really want to be in that community.

(from http://www.enricozini.org/blog/2016/debian/you-ll-thank-me-later/)

There are some nice people in the world. I mean nice people, the sort I couldn’t describe myself as. People who are friends with everyone, who are somehow never involved in any argument, who seem content to spend their time drawing pictures of bumblebees on flowers that make everyone happy.

Those people are great to have around. You want to hold onto them as much as you can.

But people only have so much tolerance for jerkiness, and really nice people often have less tolerance than the rest of us.

The trouble with not ejecting a jerk — whether their shenanigans are deliberate or incidental — is that you allow the average jerkiness of the community to rise slightly. The higher it goes, the more likely it is that those really nice people will come around less often, or stop coming around at all. That, in turn, makes the average jerkiness rise even more, which teaches the original jerk that their behavior is acceptable and makes your community more appealing to other jerks. Meanwhile, more people at the nice end of the scale are drifting away.

(from https://eev.ee/blog/2016/07/22/on-a-technicality/)

Give people freedom

If someone tries something in Debian, try to acknowledge and accept their work.

You can give feedback on what they are doing, and try not to stand in their way, unless what they are doing is actually hurting you. In that case, try to collaborate, so that you all can get what you need.

It's ok if you don't like everything that they are doing.

I personally don't care if people tell me I'm good when I do something, I perceive it a bit like "good boy" or "good dog". I rather prefer if people show an interest, say "that looks useful" or "how does it work?" or "what do you need to deploy this?"

Acknowledge that I've done something. I don't care if it's especially liked, give me the freedom to keep doing it.

Don't give me rewards, give me space and dignity.

Rather than feeding my ego, feed by freedom, and feed my possibility to create.

debian eng life pdo
2017-05-28 00:00:00+02:00

Conscio dell'immagine di me

L'uomo in casa deve…, sennò lei se ne approfitta.
Il bambino deve imparare che…, sennò se ne approfitta.
La gente se ne approfitta.
Si approfittano di te, non devono approfittarsi di te.
Te ne approfitti, eh?

Non dare subito la risposta semplice,
pensaci su, cerca di meglio,
guarda se c'era una domanda trabocchetto,
non voler vincere facile,
non essere pigro,
fai uno sforzo,
fai vedere che ci metti dell'impegno,
non dargli soddisfazione,
fatti valere.
Tu hai visto un bel mondo.

non puoi tirarti indietro ora,
è importante,
devi esserci, non puoi dire di no,
non puoi deludere tutti.

Non puoi essere come…
i grassi, gli ingenui, i semplici, i creduloni, i brutti, quelli vestiti male, gli sfigati, quelli che…, quelli che non…
Non puoi uscire con…
i grassi, gli ingenui, i semplici, i creduloni, i brutti, quelli vestiti male, gli sfigati, quelli che…, quelli che non…
Ama chi vuoi, ma non…
i grassi, gli ingenui, i semplici, i creduloni, i brutti, quelli vestiti male, gli sfigati, quelli che…, quelli che non…
O non usciremo con te,
o non ti ameremo.

Ho imparato a fare attenzione alle narrative,
a controllare come viene percepito quello che dico,
prima di parlare, prima di chiedere,
prima di esistere in pubblico.

A non desiderare, in compagnia di altri,
quello che non bisogna fare,
fino ad essere, in compagnia di altri,
soltanto un altro.
ita life
2017-05-27 00:00:00+02:00

Gli altri

Gli Altri erano un mondo a parte,
una massa insensata, con logiche sue, logiche oscure.
Un mondo che a volte si interessava a me, travolgendomi,
poi perdeva interesse e se ne andava.

Lo dovevo tenere buono, per evitare di esserne travolto.
Avevo paura di finire al centro dei suoi interessi.
di diventare un suo hobby.

  "Non merito la tua attenzione,
  non ti chiedo niente,
  non mi metto in mostra,
  non ho bisogni,
  sto bene cosí,
  non causo problemi,
  ti do quello che chiedi,
  non ti disturbo,
  non guardarmi,
  non sono nessuno,
  non è me che stai cercando."

Ho provato a chiedere: "lasciami stare"…

  "E perché?
  Come sei…
  Volevo solo chiederti…
  Volevo solo dirti…
  Volevo solo farti vedere…
  Volevo solo che tu…
  Dai, non fare cosí,
  stai al gioco!
  Non stare in un angolo!
  Dí qualcosa anche tu!
  Fammi divertire!"

E allora gli davo quello che chiedeva
finché non mi lasciava stare,
ma non è me che stava cercando.
ita life
2017-05-16 23:12:41+02:00

Accident on the motorway

There was an accident on the motorway, luckily noone got seriously wounded, but a truckful of sugar and a truckful of cereals completely spilled on the motorway, and took some time to clean.

19:15:23 19:45:07 20:02:37 20:11:52 20:28:43 20:32:34 20:44:03 21:27:41 21:44:20 22:10:50

eng life pdo
2017-05-02 15:45:38+02:00

Vector Discordian Pope Cards

I like Discordian Pope cards.

I wanted to print a batch, but online I could only find low-quality .jpg versions, so I took inkscape, used the low-quality as a template grayed out in a background immutable layer, and redid them properly.

Here are the results:


Discordian Pope Card, Front Discordian Pope Card, Back

I release them under the WTFPL license: you can print them, redistribute them, and modify them at will.

The fonts I used are:

Update: now available as a git repo

eng life pdo
2017-03-11 18:26:11+01:00


Oggi ero in cartoleria, una mamma ha chiesto un quaderno.

Per un maschio o per una femmina?


Volevo uccidere tutti.

ita life
2017-03-11 14:11:34+01:00

On the meaning of "we"

Rather than as a word of endearment, I'm starting to see "we" as a word of entitlement.

In some moments of insecurity, I catch myself "wee"-ing over other people, to claim them as mine.

eng life pdo
2017-01-07 14:38:52+01:00


When I saw this video or this video I thought of this article.

When I feel part of a tightly coordinated and synchronized team I feel proud for the achievements of the team as a whole, which I see as bigger than what I could have achieved alone.

I also don't feel at risk of taking bad decisions. I feel less responsible. If I do what I'm told, I can't be blamed for doing the wrong things. I find it relaxing, every once in a while, to not have to be in charge.

I guess this could be part of the allure of a totalitarian regime: being freed from the burden of growing up

Thinking about this, reading those articles about romantic relationships, I see quite a bit of parallels also with organising cooperation and teamwork.

It looks like I ended up making parallels between Polyamory, Anarchism, and Free Software again. If you think there should traditionally be also a mention of BDSM, go back to "I find it relaxing, every once in a while, to not have to be in charge".

debian eng life pdo
2016-09-10 09:47:03+02:00

Dreaming of being picked

From "Stop stealing dreams":

«Settling for the not-particularly uplifting dream of a boring, steady job isn’t helpful. Dreaming of being picked — picked to be on TV or picked to play on a team or picked to be lucky — isn’t helpful either. We waste our time and the time of our students when we set them up with pipe dreams that don’t empower them to adapt (or better yet, lead) when the world doesn’t work out as they hope.

The dreams we need are self-reliant dreams. We need dreams based not on what is but on what might be. We need students who can learn how to learn, who can discover how to push themselves and are generous enough and honest enough to engage with the outside world to make those dreams happen.»

This made me think that I know many hero stories based on "the chosen", like Matrix, like most superheros getting powers either from some entity chosing them for it, or from chance.

I have a hard time thinking of a superhero who becomes one just by working hard at acquiring and honing their skills: I can only think of Batman and Ironman, and they start off as super rich.

If I think of people who start from scratch as commoners and work hard to become exceptional, in the standard superhero narrative, I can only think of supervillains.


It makes me feel culturally biased into thinking that a common person cannot be trusted to act responsibly, and that only the rich, the chosen and the aristocrats can.

As a bias it may serve the rich and the aristocrats, but I don't think it serves society as a whole.

eng life pdo
2016-06-07 12:43:45+02:00

You'll thank me later

I agree with this post by Matthew Garrett.

I am quite convinced that most of the communities that I have known are vulnerable to people who are good manipulators of people.

Also, in my experience, manipulation by negating, pushing, or reframing the boundaries of people tends not to be recognised as manipulation, let alone abusive behaviour.

It's not about physically forcing people to do things that they don't want to do. It's about pushing people, again and again, wearing them out, making them feel like, despite their actual needs and wants, saying "yes" to you is the only viable way out.

It can happen for sex, and it can happen for getting a patch merged. It can happen out of habit. It can happen for pretty much anything.

Consent culture was not part of my education, and it was something I've had to discover for myself. I assume that to be a common experience, and that pushing against boundaries does happen, even without malicious intentions, on a regular basis.

However, it is not ok.

Take insisting. It is not the same as persisting. Persisting is what I do when I advocate for change. Persisting is what I do when the first version of my code segfaults. Insisting is what I do when a person says "no" to me and I don't want to accept it.

Is it ok to insist that a friend, whom you think is sick, goes and gets help?

Is it ok to insist that a friend, whom you think is sexually repressed, pushes through their boundaries to explore their sexuality with you?

In both cases, one may say, or think, trust me, you'll thank me afterwards. In both cases, what if afterwards I have nothing to thank you for?

I see a common pattern in you'll thank me afterwards situations. It can be in good faith, it can be creepy, it can be abusive, and most of the time, what it is, is dangerously unclear to most of the people involved.

I think that in a community like Debian, at the level of personal interaction, Insisting is not ok.

I think that in a community like Debian, at the level of personal interaction, "You'll thank me afterwards" is not ok.

When I say it's not ok I mean that it should not happen. If it happens, people must be free to say "stop". If it doesn't stop, people must expect to be able to easily find support, understanding, and help to make it stop.

Just like when people upload untested packages.

Pushing against personal boundaries of people is not ok, and pushing against personal boundaries does happen. When you get involved in a new community, such as Debian, find out early where, if that happens, you can find support, understanding, and help to make it stop.

If you cannot find any, or if the only thing you can find is people who say "it never happens here", consider whether you really want to be in that community.

debian eng life pdo