#debian-tech - Debian Technical Discussion (moderated)


It's often difficult to have a civilised discussion about improving Debian, since invariably someone will be annoyed by any change, and will either deliberately or unintentionally seek to shut down discussion by attacking the participants, or acting in a way that is seen as an attack by the participants. Unfortunately, there seems to be insufficient agreement to effectively discourage such behaviour elsewhere in the project, so the creation of a new area for discussion seems appropriate.

The idea is that anyone is welcome to participate in the channel, both newbies and the cabal, and that neither should behave in ways that make the other group feel uncomfortable or inhibited.

Channel topic and aim

Detailed technical discussions aimed at improving the Debian distribution and project.


Note that this is a public channel, and logs may be made public. Please put the name you go by in real life in your client's real name field (known as the "ircname").

Channel usage guidelines

Note that discussion of these guidelines is by and large off-topic.

Off-topic talk is acceptable at the discretion of the other channel participants. In particular, if it is distracting from on-topic talk, the people talking off-topic should move to a different channel, briefly noting its name so that others interested in the conversation may join them.

Offer respect and courtesy to the other participants in the channel at all times. If someone is being abusive, do not abuse them back, but politely indicate their behaviour is inappropriate, or ask a channel moderator to do so. If you find yourself acting inappropriately, cease doing so, and offer your apologies to the other channel participants.

Participants in the channel are expected to be peers. The channel is for discussion and advice. Asking for help or advice is on-topic, but you should be in a position to give help and useful advice in return; if you don't know enough or don't have enough experience, you should consider yourself a welcome guest in the channel and try to improve upon your knowledge, without making yourself a burden. You should not make demands of other participants, nor become aggressive or agitated if your suggestions are not accepted. That your advice is not acted upon does not mean it is not valued or appreciated. Realise it takes two (or more) to have a conversation; if other people aren't interested in talking about something, don't try pressuring them into it.

Participants generally should be respectful of each other and third parties outside the channel as well as inside it; pointing out how careless or ignorant someone is on your blog makes for a combative environment on channel, even though you may be scrupulously polite there.

Participants should note that technical criticism is often taken personally; you cannot expect someone to put their heart and soul into working on Debian, and expect them not to take offense when you insult their contribution. Likewise, participants should note that technical criticism is an important part of improving, and try to avoid taking it personally when their peers point out mistakes, problems, or better ways of doing things. You should make every effort to avoid arguments becoming overly personal.

Please realise that everyone on the channel will have a different interpretation on where the line between respectful and disrespectful is. You should take this into account in two ways: by trying to find out what your colleagues consider respectful and incorporating that into your behaviour in their presence, and not assuming that behaviour your find disrespectful and offensive is intended that way, as it may be quite the reverse.

Note that it's often very difficult to follow conversations on IRC, even if only because you might be asleep when they take place. As such, if you participate in a conversation that's of wider interest, please provide a summary for people who could not participate, probably to either a lists.debian.org mailing list, or a blog aggregated by Planet Debian.

If you don't think these guidelines are reasonable, or don't think that anyone else has a right to judge either what you say or how you choose to say it, this probably is not the channel for you.

You may wish to refer to other "good behaviour" guidelines such as the Ubuntu Code of Conduct, Usenet etiquette guidelines, or books like How to Win Friends and Influence People for more information on effective ways to act.

Suspension and expulsion

Participants who don't follow the usage guidelines will be warned by fellow participants or a channel moderator, and if the behaviour continues the moderators will remove their voice within the channel, ban the participant or put a similar preventative measure in place. In such a case, the moderator responsible will comment briefly to the channel what is going on and why. Such sanctions will be removed at the discretion of the moderators, when it seems likely that doing so won't result in further problems.

Note that attacks on moderators make the task of moderation very difficult, since responding to the attack brings the moderators' objectivity into question, which makes everyone's job more difficult. If you have a problem with the behaviour of a moderator, ask one of the others for assistance privately.