And now for something completely different…

I thought I should write about something other than this release or that release of Gramps. Since I don’t have time to do any genealogy work, this leaves me with few choices. However, there’s an interesting saga about the Linux Genealogy mailing lists that I can briefly touch upon.

Once, in the beginning of Septermber 2005 Don Allingham, project leader and father of GRAMPS, mentioned on IRC that something unusually flaming happened on the Linux Genealogy mailing list. He sounded like he was pissed off and it was all the more strange that he usually is calmer than anybody, even with flame wars raging all around. He did not say much detail except that one guy made wrong comment and then apologized and then the list admin got completely mad about the whole thing.

This did not make a lot of sense, and most of what Don is saying makes sense, or it turns out later that it did and I was missing it. So I went to check the list archives and landed here — see for yourself. It definitely looked ugly and out of the reasonable behavior. Don also told me that the people on the list started looking for an alternative place to discuss linux genealogy matters. So naturally we decided we could run a mailing list on our project server and offer this to the community. This we did and people started to subscribe and use it.

But there was one matter to that: the old list hosted at Rootsweb had many subscribers and we wanted to let all of them know about the new list. So I decided that I would subscribe and announce that there’s a new mailing list available. Everything was polite and since I was not involved in the original story I hoped that my message will go through the list. Well, it did not. Nor did the other few that I sent in the coming days. Then I emailed the list admin, giving him the benefit of doubt and hoping that this is either technical problem (wrong spam filters) or procedural (admin out of town or somesuch).

After about two weeks of being ignored, I filed a help item with the Help Desk on Rootsweb. I explained the situation and got response that I should contact list admin again and tell him that Help Desk told me so. I did to no avail. After another week, I contacted Help Desk again and complained of still not being able to post to the list.

In the meantime, we had two Linux Genealogy CD released, with a week’s interval, and both announecements were sent to the Rootsweb list and vanished somewhere on the admin’s computer. If you think about it, it is harder to find an announcement more relevant to the LINUX-GENEALOGY mailing list than the Linux Genealogy CD releases 🙂 But for an admin who decided to stay the course, the benefit of the list subscribers is secondary. Much like the benefit of the constituents to similarly minded presidents, I must say.

Then I contacted HelpDesk again, to hear this:

I have had a response from the list administrator and it was less than enthusiastic. Do you have copies of your communications with the list administrator?

I forwarded them all the copies (although, I would not call a set of one-way emails a communication) and have not heard back. I complained a couple more times, and I eventually stopped all this and unsubscribed.

Since all of that was going on behind the scene and not in public, I thought I might get some kicks from archiving and posting the whole thing on the web. So here it is in its entirety, if you are interested in such earthly matters. I am definitely more pissed off now than Don was — at least he was able to post something on the list 🙂


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