Posted 6 Apr 2000 at 21:25 UTC by advogato Share This

This article discusses a number of Advogato meta-issues that have been topics of intense discussion in the diary entries, including: the role of the trust metric in content filtering, the new Dimwit rating, some scaling issues, and so on.

Is Advogato's trust metric a good way to filter content?

I think this is the question implicit in much of the discussion. To me, it resolves into two rather separate subquestions:

Is Advogato's trust metric effective in recognizing people who are members of the free software developer community, and in keeping out people who are not?

Assuming that the trust metric is perfect in acheiving this goal, is that a good way to filter content?

I think the quick answer to both of these questions is: "pretty good, but we can probably do better." In the details, though, the stories are quite different. I'll deal with the first of these questions now, and the second later.

From what I can see, the trust metric is overall pretty good at determining membership in the community. A great many of the free software people who sign up get certified, in many cases quite quickly (sometimes within minutes). Further, just about everybody who participate actively gets certified. Recently, the *BSD community has been signing up in droves, and it appears that nearly everybody is getting certified to Journeyer or Master level. This is in spite of the heavy Linux bias of the trust seed.

Conversely, there aren't a whole lot of undeserved certifications, although the system is obviously not perfect. Typically, you see a lot of gray in the "Recent People Joining" column soon after the site has been linked on Slashdot or somewhere similar.

That said, I think there is room for some improvement. First, only one chain of certification from the seed is needed. Thus, a single person guessing wrong can lead to an undeserved certification. Because the trust metric is "attack-resistant", it can't lead to many undeserved certifications, but it can still be annoying. A possible solution to this problem is to require multiple independent chains from the root, say 3. This way, everyone will need at least 3 certificates in to become certified. Some people would lose their certification under this scheme, but probably not many active participants - the trust graph is pretty dense.

The Dimwit level

I created the "Dimwit" certification level in fun, partly as a way to remind people not to take the levels too seriously. A group of us were talking on #gnome about the fact that many people feel that "Apprentice" is demeaning or insulting, so there should be a level below it. Sopwith, whose sense of humor can be quite peculiar at times, offered to join up if he could be certified as Dimwit. I couldn't resist, so I added it.

Since this level carries with it a beautiful, eye-catching yellow, I was hoping that some people would play the game of trying to get a Dimwit ranking. Note that (at least for now) all the rankings above Observer carry the same privileges, so there's really nothing to lose.

Alas, a few people have been using the rating as a way to insult others on the site. Not good. So I think I'll pull it entirely.

Kelly and others have proposed that a fourth level be placed between Apprentice and Journeyer. This idea seems sound to me, as Apprentice is nowhere nearly as popular as I was hoping. All I need now is a name, a color, and a description. I'm sure the Advogato community is creative enough to come up with good suggestions for these :)

A number of other people have raised the issue of Apprentice and Journeyer rankings for people who are extremely talented programmers, but not active developers of free software. To me, the issue seems clear. The certification levels are for contributions to free software, and are not supposed to measure intelligence or even talent (so I guess the Dimwit rating is misleading as well as potentially insulting).

The issue is somewhat analogous, I think, to specialization within the field of programming. It would not be strange to say that Linus Torvalds is a Master in the field of operating systems, but an Apprentice (if that) in GUI design. Analogously, the top folks at Apple working on Quartz are Master graphics programmers, but probably Observers in free software. I think this is the way to look at the cert levels: as measuring not overall programming ability, but ability and contribution within the peculiar specialization that is free software. I very much agree with dria when she says:

It's becoming increasingly clear that the Open Source community is mind-bendingly complex -- not just in terms of creating technology, but also in terms of social interaction and community and all the other squishy stuff that goes along with it.

Content filtering

I now turn to the second question above, restated: just because someone is a member of the free software developer community, does that necessarily imply that they are a good writer with something to say? The answer is, I think, of course not necessarily, but often, yes.

Advogato works by gating the people who can participate (using the trust metric), but basically giving free rein once people are inside the walls. This is basically the dual of systems like Slashdot and Kuro5hin, which have completely open signup (and even "Anonymous Coward" posting eliminating even the need to sign up). I like the idea of trusting people who seem to be trustworthy, but it's obviously not working 100%. For one, people seem to be very timid about posting on the front page, so a great deal of the discussion is taking place in the diaries. Second, when people do post, often they get flamed or shot down for it.

I think the real problem here is that Advogato doesn't give people enough feedback about what and how to post. I never wrote any formal description of what should be posted, partly because I was hoping it would naturally "gel."

I do have a proposed solution, which I think will simultaneously address the need for content filtering and feedback for prospective authors. I would like to create a "workshop" area for people to propose drafts of articles. Once an draft is posted, any other member can go in, read the draft, and respond with both a rating (probably just a numerical 1-10) and comments. The list of people reading the draft, along with their comments, will be readable by Advogato members.

After a draft has collected feedback, it's up to the original author what to do: revise, post as is, or delete. When an article gets posted, the average rating is posted along with it, to give guidance to people who may not care to read all the articles (this is likely to be more of an issue as the posting volume scales up).

I like the idea of trusting the original poster to do the right thing with the post. For one, they don't have to wait for a lot of feedback if the article is timely. Kuro5hin has an issue with this - even breaking news stories take many hours to work their way through the moderation system. (not to mention Slashdot, which is typically days and occasionally weeks behind in their news flow).

I'm pretty happy with the design, but don't have time right just now to implement it. I will get around to it eventually, or alternatively a volunteer might be motivated to contribute a patch.

Lastly, thanks to everyone for participating in the site and making it what it is. The experiment of trying to apply trust metrics in the real world continues to fascinate me, and this place also seems to have coalesced into a real (if Internet-based) community. Advogato feels pleased and honored to have the privilege to be a member.

dude..., posted 6 Apr 2000 at 22:34 UTC by jdube » (Journeyer)

That would be a good rating for mid apprentice / jourenyers... lord knows people say it enough on #gnome :) Doesn't sound as demeaning as Apprentice or as intimidating as Journeyer... just... 'dude.' I like it!

Seveal overlapping webs of trust., posted 6 Apr 2000 at 22:52 UTC by nick » (Journeyer)

The the trust metric system measures a linear property of people, a one dimensional value. So this "dimension" must be defined, and you define it as "free software involvement". I think that the problems arise when the decisions needed to be made by the system should have other properties as input. I mean: perhaps the certification system could be split into a few overlapping webs of trust. Somebody could be a great wrtiter, a great thinker that can post articules full of wit and imagination, but has no involvement with a programming project.

This quantities would be like in a RPG...

Some measurements I can think of are:

  • Free software involvement.
  • Writing quality.
  • Accuracy when certifying.

The last one is interesting, there could be a Master that takes the trust metric system not so seriously. And people would be able to certify the qulity of his certifications, so they can be weighed by the certification algorithms.. =)

Sorry for the poor English, thank you for reading, and enjoy the ride.. (?)

Names, Drafts, and Discussions, posted 6 Apr 2000 at 23:18 UTC by tony » (Journeyer)

Perhaps instead of having one label between apprentice and journeyer (which is where I see the gap), there could be a bunch of labels, all at the same level. I'd propose simple group of categories. From apprentice, one might become a "Coder," or a "Documenter," or generically a "Helper." Or maybe collapse them all into "Contributer."

This is related to Nick's suggestion above.

It seems the front page is used for posting essays. But most of the interesting discussions happen in the journals. Maybe each journal entry needs a couple of links at the end--

( . . . )

[ Respond in your journal ]

Other replies:
[ Tony ] [ bar ]

( . . . )

This would probably be a per-user option.

(If this is a good idea, I volunteer to code it. Unless someone else wants to...)

Excellent idea.

Perhaps that idea could be expanded? I would suggest having multiple workshop areas. One would be for fine-tuning front-page essays; another might serve as a place to ask for deep technical advice. Advogato's trust metric may be the key to high SNR discussions, something I don't get in my isolation.

Rating labels, posted 6 Apr 2000 at 23:33 UTC by mustapha » (Observer)


One problem I see in having multiple labels or categories for certification is how it greatly complicates the process of certification. Right now it's very easy and simple to certify anyone. Ie. "Oh, he hacked out some really good code, I'll certify him as a Journeyer." or "She wrote [insert project name] , I use that everyday, i'll rate her as a Master." Something like that. If different categories esists, a lot more active thinking/considerations will be required.

Elegant Simplicity is Best, posted 6 Apr 2000 at 23:48 UTC by jwalther » (Journeyer)

The Dimwit Rating: The dimwit rating can go, but it was fun. I'd be sad to see it taken away. The occasional insult fest isn't bad; I'd far rather see people silently rate someone a dimwit than cluttering up their diaries and posts with "so and so is a booboo, neenerneener". Its the mature way to do things. People can see who doesn't like them, people can express their dislike, and without causing public fuss and commotion.

The Trust Metric: if the trust metric was too perfect, it might lock out new developers, or people who want to dip their toes, who could become valuable contributors. But then arguably, Advogato could be a privilege granted to people after they have already become active through the "usual" means. Perhaps a link on the mainpage to Eric Raymonds How to Become a Hacker FAQ. The better you get at locking out the "wierdos", the more likely you are to lock out someone who belongs here legitimately. I like the current balance; lets wait a bit longer and see if that changes instead of requiring 3 certifications. What would be nice is to see a metric for how much "weight" you have to throw around, and the weights of everyone else. Then people could talk more sensibly about modifying the metric. I see one person with 8 dimwit ratings and 1 master rating, and yet he is rated as a "Journeyer". Whats up with that? That 1 person who rated him as master must have a HELLA big weight.

Apprentice and Journeymen rankings Thank you for clearing up how "Apprentice" and "Journeymen" are supposed to be used. Which reminds me. Could you please change Journeyer to Journeyman. Its an old word with a lot of tradition; what is a Journeyer? What comes after Journeyer, Voyageur? It just doesn't make sense. Yes, we have women here. Journeyman is a trade term, and is used irl to women as well as men.

Content Filtering I believe the content has gelled. I like the fact there is only 1 article every few days; and that most articles never get above 20 responses. This means I can leave for a couple weeks, come back, and catch up on everything. What keeps a community together is its commonalities. By making it easy to keep our references "in common" you help the community cohere. I also like the diaries as they are. The articles have been great; For instance, the recent ones on Cpp considered harmful and Version numbering madness.

En Fin Please don't add in threading (theres not enough posts per article to justify it, and I hope there never will be), and please don't add moderation. That way lies slashdot madness. What we have here is simple and elegant. To clutter it would be to destroy a large part of what makes it so special. Muchisimas gracias!

Please don't change Journeyor to Journeyman, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 00:34 UTC by kelly » (Master)

I hate to be "politically correct", but "journeyman" is sexist and I don't think we need to be sexist. There's enough problem with overt and covert sexism in free software development as it is. The fact that "journeyman" is occasionally used to describe women does not make the term any less sexist.

If you are that offended by "journeyor", come up with an alternative, nongendered term.

Re: Please don't change Journeyer to Journeyman, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 02:19 UTC by jwalther » (Journeyer)

What are we, a bunch of programmers who love to practice our craft, or a bunch of Adventure Racing enthusiasts? The word "Journeyer" has no meaning in the context of programming, or in the context of crafts and trades in general.

If we are going to have Master and not Mistress, I don't see what the problem is with the term Journeyman. Unless the "problem" is fear of alienating coding women who hold a grudge against men. Journeyman is a gender neutral term; when someone claims its not one must look at their backgrounds. Many women in this day and age have been raised to believe that there is something wrong with an individual if they were born male; they must be untrustworthy. I guess its asking for too much; I just wish that kind of gender politics could have stayed entirely out of this community. It would be even nicer if these women would admit their biases, and even try to get over them. I come here for technical stuff, not as a support group for wounded birds. There are other forums appropriate for that.

What about the users?, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 02:34 UTC by duff » (Journeyer)

Another category for certification should be OSS User. Without them the OSS initiative doesn't go anywhere. I've decided that if I'm to be certified as anything it would have to be OSS User. I use Perl and MySQL and Red Hat and GCC and lots of other free software at work to get my job done.

I even make it a point to use OSS software rather than something proprietary. For a talk I'm going to give in a few weeks, instead of PowerPoint, I'm going to use MagicPoint.

So I propose that OSS User be added as a certification category. It sure sounds better than Dimwit ;-)

Though I'm not sure that advogato shouldn't also have some sort of negative certifications either. Troll, Wacko, and Incompetent come to mind rather quickly. Trolls are self explanatory. Incompetents are people who try to help but consistently give out wrong information (perhaps this should be Inept instead). Wackos are people who are so random as to be a detriment.

What do you guys think?

trust metrics..., posted 7 Apr 2000 at 02:36 UTC by StevenRainwater » (Master)

Is Advogato's trust metric effective? I'd say the answer is yes, partially. It's definitely good at identifying people who work together or know each other. But it's not good when it comes to developers who don't work together at the same company, chat on IRC or (apparently) aren't part of the in crowd. There are lots of new users each day who seem to be stuck at observer who I'm sure probably rate journeyor or at least apprentice. But how do I know which are which? I don't feel like I can rate people randomly and since I don't know many of the users here, I've pretty much limited my ratings to well known personalities or those who have rated me. For the most part though, the certifications seem to depend more on who you know than what your capabilities are. I feel lucky that a few have people certified me (I don't know any of them). I have no idea why they chose to rate me as they did - two gave me apprentice and one journeyor. In an absolute sense, I think any experienced programmer might be temped to be offended at being called an "apprentice" - I just look at it as meaning I don't know the right people and they don't know me. But at least I've got a certification, there seem to be a lot of users who don't have one at all.

In answer to the second question of whether a community rating of ones skill level is a good way to filter content, I'd say it's as good or better than the moderation systems I've seen elsewhere (like Slashdot) but less than ideal. I find it easy to imagine that there are highly skilled programmers who will post uninteresting articles, start flamewars, or otherwise waste my time. And it also seems likely that there are uncertified users who have something interesting to say but will probably never get the chance.

My two cents is that certification based on previous contribution is worth more than certification based on programming skill. I come to sites like slashdot and advogato to read articles not guess who has more or less skill than me. How about a system with more abstract certification levels like 1 through 4, in which a new user starts out with a rating of 1. If the user posts interesting diary entries, he might get a 2 rating which would then allow posting replies to articles but not new articles. If, in replying to articles, he shows an ability to interact with other posters intelligently, he might then get a 3 rating. At level 3 he could post new articles. Consistently posting good articles might earn a 4 rating. At anytime, if the user abuses the system by posting trolls or flames the community could lower his rating, removing his ability to abuse the system.

Bah! Preview Bug!, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 02:38 UTC by duff » (Journeyer)

When I preview my text, it adds extra <p> tags for dual newlines. This would be cool except that when I preview again it adds another, and if I preview again, another, and so forth.

Titles are what they mean, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 02:41 UTC by jmg » (Master)

I think the problem is the fact that the title master doesn't say how much you contribute, just that you are a master at something, and in this case free software. If you wanted it to be based on how much you contribute, the titles should be a bit, regularly, and full-time. Using the existing titles will just continue to do it based on skill and not contributions.

I am an example, I haven't dome much contributions to free software in the past couple years, but I used to do extensive hacking on FreeBSD and some personal projects. I have a master rating because others feel that I have the skills of a master, but right now, I'm not contributing full time.

The other problem is that the idea of how much you contribute it pretty definate, it would be better to have someone adjust their own level of involvement, and others "trust" what they say. I could end up taking a month or two break from work, hack on FreeBSD full time, then go back to work and trying to have a life out side of work. This would mean that every time I did that, people would have to recert me which will just be a pain, and people will end up certing me to the highest level even though I'm not a truely active in the free software community all the time.

Make sure the titles are acurate to what you are gauging.

Watch where you put that foot..., posted 7 Apr 2000 at 03:30 UTC by kelly » (Master)

The term "journeyman" is not gender-neutral. If you look at the terms used in traditionally female-dominated trades, you will not,(until very recently, find the term "journeyman" used. Of course, there are very few traditionally female-dominated trades. The entire guild system is historically sexist, so it is no surprise that it uses sexist language. It has been a scant few decades that women were even permitted to practice trade crafts on the same basis as men. The use of "journeyman" as generic unsexed term is equally recent -- and one does see female "journeymen" referred to as "journeywomen" sometimes.

I see no reason to be bound to a term created by a system which was, whether intentionally or not, inherently very sexist. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with "journeyer". In my opinion its nonconformance with the historical forms is a point in its favor. Also, the use of the word "journeyman" to refer to a woman has a whiff of absurdity to it -- and this whiff merely serves to reinforce, at least on a subconscious level, the notion that women shouldn't be doing that sort of work.

"Gender politics" entered Advogato when you asked for the substitution of a gender-free term with a gendered term. Gender issues, and especially tactlessly insensitive attitudes toward women by boys^H^H^H^Hmen, are a persistent problem in the free software community. I can't go on OPN #linpeople in the evenings without being hit on, which is incredibly annoying. This is not to say, of course, that all men in free software are jerks -- most certainly this is not true. But it grows tiresome to be on IRC listening to people talking about how they want to "catch some pussy" and how girls are only good for bringing you more Dew while you hack. I don't think these people do this because they're actively trying to be oppressive of women -- but it definitely has that effect. The same thing can be said of the frequent anti-homosexual comments that I see on OPN #linpeople on a regular basis. This sort of discussion has no place in a civilized group of any sort, and I feel justified in combating it when I run into it.

Maybe dria can put in a few words on this topic; she seems to be better at talking about it than I am.

It was not my impression that Advogato was intended as a technical exchange forum -- I think it's broader than that. Raph has properly observed that free software developers form a community, and communities have issues beyond the mere academic. I think discussion of any issue that impacts on free software development is relevant here, and it is my experience that "gender politics" has a substantial impact on the community, whether or not you realize it.

I also think it's interesting that you felt it appropriate to certify me as a dimwit presumably only because we disagree on the issue of which term should be used for the intermediate certification level. To be honest, this seems petty. I'm also offended by your characterization of my objection to the use of sexist language as an attempt to turn Advogato into a "support group for wounded birds". Perhaps you need to try to get over your biases before you start demanding that others get over what you think are their biases.

Finally, if you'd like to understand the title to this article, check out my LinuxChix profile. You really should not make assumptions about the people you're talking to; it makes you look stupid.

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people too.

Re: Watch where you put that foot..., posted 7 Apr 2000 at 03:56 UTC by calc » (Journeyer)

Kelly, I don't see any women objecting to the term journeyman, just you.

Re: watch where you put that foot, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 04:04 UTC by jwalther » (Journeyer)

Kelly, while I respect your decision to be transgendered (male to female, noop), it would be nice if you would at least admit your bias in this.

Cheers to all the other linuxchix out there!

New terms for categories., posted 7 Apr 2000 at 04:27 UTC by Kalana » (Journeyer)

IMO, some of the certification arguments are caused by using words with an actual meaning. Why not make some up? That way, there's no confusion with common usage that doesn't quite match the definitions of the certs, and no unintended insults caused by differing opinions about derogatory words. People might even be more inclined to read the cert definitions carefully before certifying people or drawing conclusions about certifications.

Bias..., posted 7 Apr 2000 at 04:30 UTC by kelly » (Master)

I have the advantage of having been both a male and a female member of the free software community. I am therefore in the peculiar position of being able to directly compare the manner in which I have been treated by people who believe I am male and people who believe I am female.

It does make a difference. I am more likely to be dismissed now than before I transitioned. People don't seem to take my opinions as seriously as they did before, even though the only real difference is that I present myself as female instead of as male. They are also far more likely to engage in off-topic conversation about my sex life. What does this say about the free software community?

Kellys bias, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 04:38 UTC by jwalther » (Journeyer)

What are we, a support group for your gender crisis?

Re: watch where you put that foot, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 04:52 UTC by Kalana » (Journeyer)

Obviously, someone preferred Journeyer, or we'd be arguing about changing Journeyman to Journeyer.

I like Journeyer better than Journeyman, though as I stated in my previous post, I would rather not use real or real-sounding words at all.

Journeyman is not gender neutral (though some other words containing the string "man" are). According to web1913,

Journeyman \Jour"ney*man\, n.; pl. {Journeymen}. Formerly, a man hired to work by the day; now, commonly, one who has mastered a handicraft or trade; -- distinguished from apprentice and from master workman.
which indicates that it is (was) used to indicate only men. Master is a gender neutral term, at least in the sense implied here:
3. One who has attained great skill in the use or application of anything; as, a master of oratorical art.

And, if you think I should "state my bias": (Yes, I have "biases". Sometimes I like to call them opinions.) I am female. I even had a boyfriend once. I know people who are female, male, and neither. If you want more personal information, you can ask me, or go to my web page and look.

A modest proposal, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 05:11 UTC by raph » (Master)

Since a major source of the uneasiness with the cert levels are the meanings and historical baggage the names carry, I have an idea: simply drop the words altogether and keep the colors.

Of course, we'd want to add icons or something so people who are not browsing in full color are well supported. That would address one current bug: inability to visualize certification levels in the "recent diary" list in Lynx and palm browsers.

And, as Kalana points out, this would get people to read the cert descriptions rather than simply assuming they know the meanings.

What do people think?

/ignore #flamewar

Etymology, Ratings, and Sexism, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 05:33 UTC by tony » (Journeyer)

At some point, words lose their original meaning. They morph. That is the sign of a living language.

As a member of the Pitt River tribe, I certainly don't mind the term "Indian," even though it was originally a misnomer. Of course, someone from India may disagree.

Kelly, I understand your discomfort with the word "journeyman," but in recent history (at least the last 30 years), it has referred to people, and not just males. I asked my S.O., who is very feminist, and she agrees that "journeyman" is acceptable; so I know it's not just my chauvenism.

jwalther, Kelly does have a point. Women are not treated with the same respect as men, in general. (Note this refers to gender, and not sex.) This leads to a certain amount of sensitivity.

Don't make me send you both to your rooms.

With that said, "Journeyer" is an ugly title. But there is another alternative. In very recent history (say, the last 10 years), the word "Journeyman" has been shortened to just "Journey." As in, "A journey carpenter."

Maybe raph has a point, and the rating titles should be abstracted. I do like the system, and I think it is effective.

But what the hell do I know? I'm just an apprentice.

Don't see women objecting...., posted 7 Apr 2000 at 05:40 UTC by jennv » (Journeyer)


One reason you don't see (other) women objecting to the proposed title of 'Journeyman' is because [there_exists(X) where (is_female(X) && reluctant_to_speak_up(X))].

And _WHY_ is there at least one woman in this group who is reluctant to speak up on these issues?

Look at the flamewar.

Jenn V.

Color codes, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 06:00 UTC by nether » (Journeyer)

Oh yes, I like that! No unnecessary titles, and of course we know already how the color coding system should work... We have violet, blue, green, yellow and infrared security clearances already. We just need to add the missing, like-

What's this background I'm writing on?

Security violation detected. Please report to the nearest Termination Centre immediately. Have a nice day, citizen.

Abstracting the rating system, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 06:24 UTC by lordsutch » (Journeyer)

Why not just use an ordinal scale of some form? Get rid of the names, you just rate the contributions of person X on a scale from 1-10 or some such (and 0 is Observer).

Lame mappings to start us off:

  • Master: 10
  • Journeyer: 5
  • Apprentice: 1
  • Dimwit: ?

But I'm a social scientist, so what do I know? ;-)

Skill levels, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 06:46 UTC by jwalther » (Journeyer)

Since the ranks aren't a direct mapping of skill, but rather some combination of skill, effort, and current involvement in Free Software I agree with comments above we need some other terms. But I disagree with a numeric scale: its meaningless. Also, if someone is a dimwit, we should be able to say so. Dimwit is a cool setting; it acts as a mild, non destructive bit of negative feedback, because face it, there are developers who act like *cough*(BrucePerens)*cough* dimwits at time, yet are major contributors, and its not like they don't change when they realize they're being dicks. I'd like to see it as a separate flag to put beside the other 4 settings (outsider, apprentice, journeyman, master)

Btw, I'll now be saying "people" instead of "humans", since human is obviously sexist. I recommend we remove all references to humans on this website and say "people" so that none of the more fragile, sensitive members get hurt by our crude, pigheaded sexism. Also I will now eschew the use of the word woman, female and other derogatory terms used in regard to the fair sex; I guess the only words left are "chix", "girls", and "ladies". I hope these terms will suffice and finally put your souls at ease.

Gah!, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 06:57 UTC by deirdre » (Journeyer)

On the journeyer/journeyman debate, I prefer the less sexist language. That said, I prefer "chairman" to "chair" or "chairwoman" or "chairperson," so my preferences are, like me, complex.

To me, however, the bigger issue is the communication within the community and WHY women feel intimidated. I'm pretty confrontational, even for a guy, but I still get intimidated. Like Jenn V. said.

To some of the people in this thread: is it REALLY worth being a jerk over? Is it REALLY worth alienating people who may very well be valuable contributors (whether in the past, present or future)? I can't see that the rude comments about Kelly were justified.

If you listen to RMS, you'll note his emphasis (especially about things such as why the wheel group is a bad idea) is on community. On equality. On sharing. If you exclude 50% of the species, you don't have a community.

Trolls, Ratings, and Dimwits, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 06:59 UTC by pjf » (Journeyer)

Ratings (Dimwit)
I believe that a problem with the `dimwit' rating is that whilst it is above observer in the system, it rates as below observer in many people's minds. Hence, you could end up with trolls being classified as dimwits, and possibly gain privileges because of it. A troll rating may be an idea, where a troll is rated below an observer.

An intermediate level would be a great idea. Unfortunately I can't think up a good craft-based name for would it could be called.

A humble suggestion, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 07:49 UTC by Skud » (Master)

May I propose the following non-gender-specific (but not neologistic) terms? Contributor to replace Journeyer/Journeyman, and Guru to replace Master.

And I should probably mention that a) I'm female, and b) I dislike the "Journeyman" title, and I'm not too keen on "Master" either (as I mentioned a few weeks ago in a different certification thread).

Re: Numbers as rating system, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 08:11 UTC by Kalana » (Journeyer)

Hm, I was going to suggest numbers, but it sort of implies that the difference between a 1 and 2 is the same as the difference between a 3 and 4 (yes, I know there's plenty of examples where that's not true, but it's usually my first impression, at least), and that there's actually a quantifiable difference.

I like the idea of just using colors. I didn't think of it at all, since I usually use lynx to read advogato. Actually, I think I don't mind not being able to see the colors. When (wishful thinking?) advogato has user-configurable layout, I'll probably turn off ubiquitous certification levels.

And on the subject of flamewars, one of the strangest things I've learned about the "Community" is that people who say stupid things are sometimes worth listening to.

Guru, coder, trainee, dimwit, observer, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 08:51 UTC by jwalther » (Journeyer)

I feel comfortable with the above labels. Although I still think dimwit should be a separate flag you could decide on a per person basis. Any of gurus, coders or trainees can turn out to be dimwits.

Seconded: Humble suggestion and other pie, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 08:54 UTC by kmself » (Journeyer)

Hmmm... A voting system, Raph?

Skud's Guru / Contributor suggestion to replace Master / Journeyer is quite good. Avoids two nasty semiotic traps.

I'm seeing Advogato and Kuro5hin as two sides of the same coin (or perhaps two coins of the same side -- it's getting late). IMO both a trust metric and a content-rating scheme are required. It would be an interesting world in which my Advogato account and K5 content were somehow linked. Last month's BALUG LDAP (very rushed) presentation was quite interesting. Ideas percolate.... The Scoop engine has a few kinks to work out, but the principle seems quite sound. This might be a good place to roll it out.

The workshop/draft idea is a good one and has been proposed (or should be :-) at K5.

Assholes, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 09:26 UTC by mjs » (Master)

jwalther, calc, you guys are being assholes. Your sort of behavior has no place here. I am seriously considering using the Dimwit rating, lame though it is otherwise.

Oppress..., posted 7 Apr 2000 at 09:46 UTC by mwimer » (Journeyer)

I'm being oppressed! They're oppressing me! I really don't have an opinion i just like to spew trash onto the screen. :)

Warning, this article has degenerated into the Winers and the Assholes pooping into thier hands and throwing it at each other.

The fall of Advogato, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 09:59 UTC by nether » (Journeyer)

Advogato was our last, best hope for civilized discussion. It failed.

Oh, it was such a great ideal, a slashdot for clueful people, where people could work out their differences without resorting to flaming. But here we are, with people calling other people assholes. Seems like human nature just can't be helped.

As for the "man" -suffix, the question is not very trivial. Yes, terms such as "chairman" do originate from the ages when no one could imagine a female with such a task. It is arguable, though, that "man" is in certain contexts a gender-neutral term. (For what it's worth "man" in Swedish means just an unspecified subject in the passive form). For example, occasionally one hears ridiculous accusations against Tolkien claiming that he was sexist for using the term "men" everywhere when speaking of people generally, though it is quite legitimate to use the word to indicate the entire human race.

Nevertheless, I'm fairly positive that even today, the "man" -ending does bring to mind at least subconsciously male connotations, even if the word is supposed to refer to both sexes. But it's hard to say whether the inconvenience of trying to revamp the vocabulary to fix this is worthwhile.

Personally, I'm something of a traditionalist and prefer to use older terms, even though I'm aware that they may be potentially misleading. YMMV.

Guru/Contributor/Coder/Trainee/Observer, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 10:04 UTC by Skud » (Master)

In response to kmself's suggestion, how do people like the above range?

Guru == Master

Contributor == Journeyer; someone who not only programs but contributes to free software projects and community

Coder is somewhere in between the current "Apprentice" and "Journeyer" and probably allows for people who are competent coders but aren't contributing much.

Trainee == Apprentice

Btw, I definitely like the "workshop" idea as well as a way of rating articles separately from people.

Some quick comments..., posted 7 Apr 2000 at 10:10 UTC by Raphael » (Master)

  • I had an article in preparation (about moderation and certifications, content filtering and other things), following my previous article that I posted more than two months ago. I have to re-work it a bit because several topics have already been covered in this discussion, but hopefully it will be ready next week.
  • I also think that keeping only the colors and some icons (or numbers) would be better than using names. At least it would be less controversial, unless some people dislike some color and would refuse to be labeled with that color.
  • I don't like the names "guru", "coder" and "trainee". These sound like things that are used by kids or 31337 d00dz who are looking for a grandiose handle.
  • This seems to be one of the first articles in which we get some comments that are as disgusting as some of the AC comments posted on /. (by people who do not deserve to be on either site).
  • I cannot believe that some people are so stupid and intolerant... Criticizing kelly's comments because of her gender change (and not because of anything else, apparently) is the sure sign of a moron. Note: I am straight, I have a stable relationship with my girlfriend, and I have no problem talking and having fun with some of my friends who happen to be gay, lesbian, and one of them who is trans. I hate people who do not tolerate others because of their sex or sexual preferences. Can't we all get along?

Certification labels, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 10:58 UTC by dan » (Master)

My 2p:

  • guru (deity?)
  • developer
  • contributor
  • observer

I don't like "coder" (a) because it's t00 3733t, and (b) because the certs are supposed to be measuring contribution-to-the-community, not just how many lines of C you get written each day. That includes testing, documenting, designing, mailing list management, advocacy, etc etc.

I don't think we need another bit. I've suggested Contributor as a replacement for Apprentice, because Apprentice is largely underused due to the "doesn't know very much" implication. I'd take "Dilantette" as an alternative ;-)

I'm agnostic on whether we need a "Dimwit" rating.

Disclaimer: latent heterosexual

Wow. A flamewar (in public) on the Mouse. :-), posted 7 Apr 2000 at 11:47 UTC by kuro5hin » (Master)

Ok, let's all be honest-- this is not the first flamewar that has taken place on Advogato (which I am nicknaming "The Mouse" because AFAICT no one else has nicknamed it yet, and Advogato is deceptively even harder to say than "Kuro5hin" ;-)) It does seem to be the first one that has taken place in public, as opposed to inter-diary guerilla warfare. Interesting.

Two separate threads of this conversation gelled in a weird way for me. 'Dimwit' and 'Journeyman', and the surrounding controversies. The discussions about, and problems people had with, both words are basically the same problem. Words, nearly all words, carry a load of suppressed meanings, that may not be intended by the author, but are always lurking there. Anyone who doesn't believe this claim, read a bunch of Derrida, and if you still believe anything after that pain-fest, the above claim will likely be the one thing you still believe. "Journeyman" means to most people: "Accomplished craftsman in a trade". It's roots are somewhere back when only men could be "craftsmen" (ooh! look! It crops up there too), because only men could work in the normal trade economy. This wasn't because women couldn't have done most of the same things men did, but because they were prevented from participating. This general era (roughly Dawn of Time thru the 1970's) was also the heyday of most of the other deprecated terms that assume "man" to mean "person". The deep suppressed meaning of all this is that person == man, and every word that includes that freight reinforces that idea, whether we want it to or not.

Dimwit, on the other hand, has a much more obvious problem, in that it is generally considerted derogatory, and there's no real way of knowing, in a context like Advogato's trust metric, whether it is meant in fun, or what. I don't like it either, but for a kind of different reason, and one that's closely related to why I don't like "Journeyman". Words mold people's behavior. It's pretty well known that if a kid grows up with her parents and peers calling her a dumbass all the time, she stands little chance of having a good image of herself. Basically, by applying a trust metric ranking to someone, we are applying a valuation, and the words that express that valuation will do more harm than good unless they are all basically positive. People act the way you expect them to, and if you label someone "Dimwit", they have no incentive to act otherwise. I really like "Apprentice" because it carries all kinds of connotations of someone who learns from the masters and strives to be better than they are now. If we expect people to act like Trolls and Dimwits, then the best way of encouraging that is to call them such. I'd rather Advogato expect that all members are productive members, and leave the trolls at that other site.

This is the reason for kuro5hin's Anonymous Hero, rather than Anonymous Coward. It sounds silly, but AH trolls are incredibly rare. Who can act like an idiot when I'm calling them a hero?

I like dan's suggestion of Guru, Developer, Contributor, Observer. Of course, I had no problem at all with Journeyer, and didn't actually notice it wasn't "Journeyman" until it was pointed out in this thread. The meaning was basically the same to me, except without the "man" bit. So really, I don't think there needs to be a change, particularly.

More thoughts-- K5 and Advogato. As kmself pointed out, they're two sides of the same coin ("or the same side of two different coins, as it were" --Stoppard). I think everyone who reads kuro5hin should read advogato as well, and vice versa. They're incredibly complimentary, in tone, goals, content, and ideals. Imagine a big building, in the middle of town, where everyone goes to debate and meet people and probably have a beer or two. It'd have a big common area, where people of all sorts of interests and ideas could mingle and shout at each other, then it'd have little hallways leading off into cozy rooms where specialists in various fields could gather by a fireplace and discuss their specialist stuff. K5 is kind of like the common room (although less eclectic than I'd like sometimes) and Advogato is the "Free Software Nook", catering to a more select population. The strengths of each system complement the weaknesses of the other, and I frequently wish I could think of an easy way to "merge" them somehow, rather than have raph and I both converge toward the same system from different directions. Some of this overlap is already starting-- we're both planning to do a community editing thing in the near future, and I would love to enable users to post their own diary threads (diary entries would serve as a "Story" in a personal discussion thread though-- I do wish I could reply to diary entries, often). And now you're talking about story moderation, basically. You see what I mean. :-) Anyone have any ideas, suggestions, or assertions that this would be a Bad Thing?

I probably had more to say, but I'm a bit fuzzy right now. Cheers.

If we shadows have offended..., posted 7 Apr 2000 at 12:35 UTC by jlbec » (Master)

(no body)

counterbalance, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 12:56 UTC by mbp » (Master)

I suppose one could have the relationship midwife to a project.

As I've said before, Advogato feels like some kind of social gathering of people from the community. (Think of jwalther, if you will, as obnoxious and chauvanist when drunk.) The interesting thing is not to arrange people into ego-sustaining ranks, but rather to get intoduced to the social network. It's interesting to me to see who knows who, and in what connexion. If I really needed to evaluate somebody against some particular criteria -- before giving them article-posting access -- then it's nice to be able to find people I trust who know them well.

More broadly, suppose somebody's posted an opinion piece on the web, and I want to evaluate it. Take jwz's nomo zilla as a public example. If I was a potential Netscape investor or employee, I'd like to examine Jamie's reputation network to know whether I should believe the article. This is not nearly as simple as knowing that he's a master and has written lots of code. Rather, I need to find trustworthy people who can say whether he's short-tempered, whether he's honest, whether there was a hidden agenda in his departure. Answering the questions needs human intervention, but a good computerized trust network can tell you where to look.

If we shadows have offended... (Try II), posted 7 Apr 2000 at 13:02 UTC by jlbec » (Master)

Heh, you've got to be kidding me. A word of advice, don't hit <ENTER> in the "Reply title" field. It posts.

Rating Levels

If we are to decide on new names for the trust levels, the most important factor would be better descriptions of what they mean. As many have said, "Master" connotates skill, talent, and knowledge, not contribution.

Using soley a color code might be interesting, but might be confusing too. The current members of the community know what the colors mean. New members would not. Yes, they can read the descriptions. The descriptions would have to be easier to find, though. More importantly, what do you call them in conversation and posts?

"Yeah, that Alan is a Purple. He sure knows his stuff!"

Doesn't quite work,does it?

Political Correctness, or "Doctor, it hurts when I say this!"

I hate Political Correctness. With a passion. In general, it is a cancer that is possibly poisioning free expression, literature, and other beautiful forms of artistic acheivement. Was Mark Twain a racist, or merely reflecting the times of Huckleberry Finn accurately? To me the answer is obvious.

That said, there is Political Correctness, and there is just plain offensive. Unfortunately, it is a matter of degree. To me, "Master" is pretty gender neutral, but "Journeyman" is sexist. We're never going to find a perfect balance for everyone. Instead, we find what everyone is comfortable with. Calling a mid-level contributor "Journeyer" instead of "Journeyman" is in no way restricting your ability to express yourself. To use sexist and/or racist terms in a novel about such a situation is expression. To use those terms in a community discussion involving people those terms attack is offensive. A person posting on Advogato is not writing a novel about a sexist person. A person posting on advogato is creating a discussion with a community. It is a different environment, and involves different rules.

kelly has done a lot of work, and has made a lot of contribution. So has dria. To belittle them is to be anathema to the community. Give it a rest.

To disregard someone's problems with your terms because of their gender or possible gender issues is simply disgusting. Some members of the community have a problem with the term "Journeyman". Ok, the term is off-limits. Accept it. If they proposed the term "Asshole" for male hackers, would you accept its use? I might be amused to have a friend rate me "Asshole", but as a generic "male" term I'd find it offensive. It speaks to a stereotype that is demeaning. To many women, the "Journeyman" and "Craftsman" terms, and terms like them, speak to a stereotype that effectively says women aren't good enough to perform those tasks. That's enough for me to respect the wishes of those members of the community, because it is our community. Not mine, not theirs, ours.

If you can't handle that, please leave, because this is obviously not your community.

Do we need cert levels at all?, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 13:14 UTC by inf » (Journeyer)

So far the design of the system is that all certifcation levels are equal. Since as before discussed certifcation levels mean different things to different certifiers it would make sense to me to do away with the distintion on any level. I'm not more or less likely to read a Dimwit's or Master's diary. If anything, it might be interesting if people gave themselves, a "Title" and see where people ran with it. A free-form title would be VERY interesting. :)

Certification is a rating of trustworthiness, and hopefully trustworthiness not to flame, troll or activly try to bring down the community. To this extent I see someone being certified by a number of people being a far better metric than a specific level of the certification.

I've always thought the software community had the 6-degrees of separation down to around 2. A good point of certification should be to remind us of that. Whatever you say you're saying to someone who is probably a good friend of someone you know. Flame accordingly.

The Wizards' Apprentice, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 13:17 UTC by scottyo » (Apprentice)

I am proud of my Apprentice rating here on Advogato, and I do match the criteria associated with my certification. I came to learn and to be a part, and I have learned quite a bit already.

I hate to see massive change on Advogato. I really like this place. I have hung around since fairly early in its existence. I suspect the current dilemma has been brought about by it reaching a sort of critical mass, and that some change is inevitable to accomodate everyone. I just hope the change is not too great.

Now, having said that...
From my perspective (down here), I look at the credentials of many of you and consider you Wizards. I know I can learn from many of you and intend to hang out here and do so. But in my mind, I don't make much distinction between "Journeyer" and "Master" if I don't know who you are. I know who Alan Cox is and I know who Miguel Icaza is and so hold them in perhaps higher esteem that those of you that I don't know. However, this is primarily because of my admitted limited involvement up to now. So as far as I am concerned now, there could be fewer cert levels (say "apprentice" and "wizard") and I would still be happy. I would probably disagree if I were most of you, so....

I really like the "Mystic Guild" atmosphere that Advogato has inspired with its certification titles. I think changing to "contributor", "coder", "developer", etc is just boring and loses to much of that mystic atmosphere. So, if you really need additional levels, and gender neutral titles I suggest the following:

  • Dimwit (or Helper)
  • Apprentice
  • Initiate
  • Wizard
  • Diety
I envision the "Journeyer","Master" levels both shifting down somewhat, with "Diety" referring to only a few of the people now certified as "Master". The "Dimwit" rating doesn't offend me and it might actually be nice to have some acceptable derogatory rating so that displeasure can be expressed without resorting to one's own choice of words.

I also like the "workshop" idea.

Trying to get back on topic, re: Subject Matter, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 13:44 UTC by alecm » (Master)

Hi, I'm newly arrived to Advogato, though have been making a nuisance of myself on several networks since 1985, as-per my rating kindly recommended by my friends and others who know me.

As a newly arrived member I have been following the old USENET maxim of keeping my mouth shut and not posting for about a fortnight, until I work out what is/is not acceptable.

To date, the articles I have read have been erudite, interesting and technical, but I have not yet determined precisely what topics are allowed for articles, and what would be considered seriously off-base.

Hence I have not written anything.

To that end, I would welcome a statement from Advogato about what sort of thing we all wish to see from this forum, and what is/is not "on charter" for discussion.

I would NOT welcome some sort of rating that is based upon how much you post ("how much you contribute to the community") because I regard such metrics as foolish goals in themselves, which foolish people will pursue, in order to gain artificial credibility.

Much more can be understood from a wise man's silence, than from a fool's verbiage.

Certainly until a charter is established, and possibly for some long time afterwards, I will not be sticking my head above the parapet often, and will only be replying to articles where I think I have something useful to contribute, perhaps correcting errors, or chipping in with differing opinions.

Hence, I think it'd be foolish to measure (eg) my rating, on the basis of how little/much I post, as opposed to the quality of what I do post.

I suppose the question is: Are the ratings meant to be a reflection of how competent the writer is meant to be, OR a measure of how much they post to Advogato? - bearing in mind that "posting" is not necessarily the same as "contributing".

I suspect that the problem with the "dimwit" category is that is implicitly part of a "how-much-[crap]-you-post" metric, as opposed to a "how competent you appear to be" metric, and this disjoint causes confusion and argument.

- alec

All hope abandon..., posted 7 Apr 2000 at 13:59 UTC by Rasputin » (Journeyer)

Having read through the comments, I see 2 primary themes: Titles/labels/certifications and trust metrics. I'm still working out what (if anything) can/should be done to the trust metric so I won't comment on that now. Certifications are another story.

Any time a label is applied in a general way to a group of specific individuals there are going to be problems. Especially when the labels carry any significant historical baggage. There were a couple of comments on the right track with the suggestion of using meaningless words. I think, though, that we can do better. There is a fairly extensive history behind the open-source community and hackers in general now, and I think it's time we used that to our advantage. I would recommend going with words that have very specific meanings within the hacking community but are (mostly) meaningless outside of that milieu. As an example, instead of Master or Guru, we could use terms such as Root or BOFH (my personal favorite ;) Then we could replace all the apprentices with PFY's, and the Journeyers would be Hackers, etc.

I admit my particular choices may or may not appeal to the wider audience. I feel, though, that the basic concept holds out a really good chance of resolving this nascent dispute before it grows out of hand and does irreperable harm to a fine community.

on certifications and gender wars, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 14:00 UTC by dria » (Master)

Well, gosh. I have to admit that I was really hoping that this wouldn't turn into a gender war, but it has, and in the process has taken on a bit of a slashdotesque edge. Sucky.

About the "gender-specific" certification titles. Personally, I don't really care. That might shock a lot of people, but it's true. Maybe I've just been playing in the boys' clubs for too many years, but gender-specific titles don't bother me too much. "Master" is gender-specific, and you don't see me complaining ;) To be honest, I never really noticed the "Journeyer"/"Journeyman" thing.

Were it a perfect world, my gender wouldn't be at all relevant. I am a woman, yes. But when it comes to my "standing" within the community, I would like to be judged based solely on my contributions, not because I'm a woman who is contributing. One of my major contributions is LinuxChix, of course, so I sort of brought the whole gender thing upon myself, I guess :)

On the other hand, it's obvious that some people do care about the gendered/non-gendered terms, which should be respected. I think that Skud has put forth the sanest idea: just make all the titles gender-neutral and lets leave it at that.

I do, however, protest the "coder" title. I'm not a coder. A lot of people who contribute to open source aren't coders. I would find it annoying if the certification system was biased in such a way that non-coders' contributions were considered "less important". This is an issue in the high-tech industry as a whole in fact. Tech writers, QA people, designers, web folk, tech support specialists -- there is a tendency within the industry to think of these people as less important than the hackers and R&D people. Different skills, different specialisations, different people. But all of these roles are important (imagine how well a company or product would function without all of these types of people working together) and should be given the respect they deserve.

So, how about we use gender-neutral, role-neutral certification titles? Skud/dan's suggestions work quite nicely for this:

  • guru
  • developer
  • contributor
  • observer

These titles also make deciding on who should get what cert a bit easier -- an "observer" is anyone who is passive within the community. A "contributor" is someone who is active, but who isn't part of any particular project -- these are the incredibly useful people who give feedback, bug reports, do testing, etc. A "developer" is actively involved and can be directly associated with a particular project, be it as a developer, writer, mailing list/site maintainer, etc. "Gurus" are, well, gurus -- the people who initiate and maintain particular projects, but who are also known beyond the scope of that project. Gurus are those who are the "known names" within the community for whatever reason, etc.

Or something. I'm just making this up off the top of my head. This is not an easy problem, and I haven't had nearly enough coffee today.

Oh, and the "workshop" thing is a good idea. Were I to write an article, I'd probably get a bunch of people to check it out before I posted it anyhow, but having a facility for doing that on a larger scale would be useful.

Toolsmith..., posted 7 Apr 2000 at 14:49 UTC by argent » (Master)

There's really multiple paths through the community, you have applicaton developers, but you also have people who write a lot of small tools rather than one big project.

Toolsmith would really be a peer with Journeyman (journeyer? spare me) or Master.

References to previous , posted 7 Apr 2000 at 14:55 UTC by Raphael » (Master)

(no body)

References to previous articles on Advogato, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 15:08 UTC by Raphael » (Master)

(Aaargh! Why does this thing submit my empty comment when I accendentally hit Enter in the title field?)

Note for those who would like to post some comments about the certification/moderation system:

Many things have already been discussed earlier on Advogato. I encourage you to read these previous articles as well as all comments before proposing some solutions here. Here are the articles that contain some interesting proposals:

You can also find a few interesting comments in the old diary entries (around February) from raph, Radagast, myself and several others.

Among other things, I would prefer to have not one, but several trust webs, and also to have a clear separation between: coding skills, effort (contributions to the free software community), quality of the postings, and trust (i.e. do you know/trust someone personally, regardless of their contributions). As I said in a previous comment, I will try to rework and finish my article summarizing this, and post it next week.

Journeyer is not Journeyman, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 15:22 UTC by prozac » (Journeyer)

A journeyer is one who journeys; traveling from place to place.
A journeyman is one who has finished an apprenticeship and is ready to be employed is his craft.

(I should put a quote here by Donald Knuth about the use of 'his' as convention only, from The Art of Programming, but the book is not in my office.)

When I first saw the term here I assumed the first definition, not the latter. Although I do agree with apprentice, I am an apprentice of sorts, as one who is learning a trade, but I have not agreed or contracted with someone from whom I will learn their trade.

I also think of myself as a journeyer, on may way toward some goal...

titles, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 15:25 UTC by willy » (Master)

journeyer always struck me as too overtly PC -- almost as bad as waitron. I'm not sure about Contributor as a title; it implies Apprentices don't contribute which is clearly untrue.

I like:

Guru Adept Developer Apprentice

which are gender-neutral and don't seem to carry any negative connotations.

more titles, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 15:32 UTC by dan » (Master)

guru, adept, initiate, observer. Although given the tone of these labels, I wonder if the secret society we're setting up would actually allow itself to be observed. "Mundane", perhaps ...

I still think that three certified levels are sufficent - people might start to take it seriously with more.

gosh, this is fun

Journeyer... a good name., posted 7 Apr 2000 at 16:18 UTC by rwatson » (Master)

To be honest, I always too the journeyer title to mean what it does mean. I tend to think of open source as a journey, and Advogato is a community of travelers. In the open source world, there's a changing landscape of projects, institutions, and developers. Journeyers are those developers that have walked the distance necessary to be recognized as vital participants in the open source community.

As much as guild references are cute, I'm not sure the world works that way any more :-).

two sides to a cert, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 17:04 UTC by Netdancer » (Journeyer)

IMHO a lot of the confusion about the cert levels, as already stated, is because its not clear what they refer to. They are a mixture of

  1. community involvement
  2. competence
Thats actually intended, as far as I understood raph, but it still creates a good deal of confusion, as exemplified by the discussion. My suggestion would be to limit it to the first part (involvement), and name the certs the same as in the project parts (i.e., helper, contributor, developer, etc). That way, no one would feel bad, because the certs don't refer to a personal quality but to a professional action (or non-action), which should hopefully be less emotionally important.

Apart from that, after a person is certified to some level, the person should have the option of lowering its official certification through self-certification. For example, I am certified as Journeyer, but my own certification is for Apprentice and thats how I see myself -- not because I consider myself to be an inferior developer, but just because the majority of my time is spent outside with other stuff (studying, for example ;-). I'm still very happy that people certified me as Journeyer, and with time I might raise my own certification, but thats everyones personal decision.

titles..., posted 7 Apr 2000 at 17:06 UTC by kelly » (Master)

I think I like "novice", "initiate", "adept", and "master". (For the record, I do not think "master" is sexist.) "Guru" is an acceptable substitute, although I'm old enough that for me "guru" has connections with 70s drug culture that are a bit disquieting (think: Timothy Leary).

"Coder" is unacceptable; not everyone who contributes to free software codes. Immediately obvious examples are Telsa and dria, both of whom are certified here as Masters. I still occasionally code, but my contribution at this point is mostly finding and reporting bugs, nagging from the peanut gallery, advocacy, and offering help to newbies.

Colors?, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 17:20 UTC by FarcePest » (Journeyer)

We can't use colors. That's a bias against the pigment-impaired!

Summarizing a few points:

  • "Master" is not strictly gender-neutral (neuter).
  • "Journeyer" is, but historically is not a substitute for "Journeyman".
  • "Master", "Journeyman", and "Apprentice" are traditional class terminology for guilds (pick up an old AD&D manual sometime)

English, like most European languages, is engendered, even for terms we don't really considered "gendered" any more. It's actually less engendered than most; French, German, Spanish all have gendered nouns, whereas English rarely does ("ship" is one of the few exceptions, if you even want to count that one). Really, the whole s/man/person/ thing does nothing for me. There are a lot of instances where you can come up with a non-gendered version that works: "Chairman" to "Chair", "Salesman" to "Sales Associate" (several variations), "man hole cover" to "woman hole cover". But I digress.

First, realize there is no way to win on picking a single set of names. If someone, somewhere, is not offended, then the names are too lame. Screw political correctness.

So the solution is: Not to have a single set of names. Keep the certification levels that presently exist, and keep the primary names they have now (better yet, switch Journeyer to Journeyman). In addition to these, have alternate names that mean the same certification levels. Suggestions:

  1. Master, Mistress, Guru, Wizard, da Man
  2. Journeyman, Journeywoman, Hacker
  3. Apprentice, Neophyte, Accolyte, Newbie
  4. Dimwit, Idiot, Script Kiddie, MSCE

Then, once you are certified at a level, you get to pick which honorific you prefer.

Or just use the numbers.

Hi, Raph.

I'm not a man, I'm a free number!, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 18:06 UTC by Radagast » (Journeyer)

After seeing all of this discussion, with all the back and forth, I have to say the best idea I've heard so far is to just use numbers. It's pure, it has little baggage (would the numerologists in the back please quiet down), and it works.

Also, it'd be a great opportunity to add a level or two more, and it would probably get more people to use the levels evenly, without fear of insulting someone by calling them "apprentice". There should, however, be some sort of small document saying what's what, that is, take the descriptions of the three levels on the certification page today, and fix it to numbers, preferably with at least one number between each, so people can make up their mind.

I'm sure the certifications given to a person add up to a pretty uneven float at some point anyway, so just round that, and you have the level. Oh, and for colors, use a sliding scale through the spectrum, say from green to blue to red.

well, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 21:33 UTC by jdube » (Journeyer)

Numbers would be nice... but I actually think the color-coding is nice. Maybe icons would be a good idea (but that would kinda shaft any lynx users ;)

alt tags, posted 7 Apr 2000 at 23:43 UTC by Iain » (Master)

img src="master.png" alt="This person is certified as ..."

Negative ratings are important!, posted 11 Apr 2000 at 10:17 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

Well, sitting in the other thread that is now off-into-the-older-posts-beyond, is a reply that describes that negative ratings are important.

It is necessary to be able to express "This Person Is Stupid", not only that but *how* stupid. This is going to be the only way that one "Trusted" group can *actively* Bust Out The Bad Guys. It's not enough to Trust the Trust-Metric system to take down a group of undesirables.

Imagine what would happen if sysadmins were never allowed to remove users from /etc/passwd. Once created, a user can log in any time and do whatever they like.

Not Good.

Imagine if it was impossible to remove unsuitable code from your program, or retire old APIs. Microsoft has to have backwards-compatibility for *everything*, including security holes, it seems, at times.

rm -fr * is your friend...

(I may repost the original reply as an article some time if there is no response to it).

Negative ratings (again), posted 11 Apr 2000 at 10:31 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

Been reading this thread again in more detail.

Negative ratings allow someone to be busted down to below Observer status, removing all rights to post. If they want to keep their name (rather than just abandon it and use another anonymous one), they have to earn the respect and trust of the people who certified them as (see other post in 38.html) Idiot, Offender or Outcast.

So, assuming that "negative ratings" come into effect, use them with as much discretion as you do "positive" ones.

I see one threat on this post about busting someone to dimwit, already, and, no offense taken at the person to whom this threat was directed, I can only say, GREAT! you irritated someone, who cares? If your Trust Metric is high enough, you will turn a few people against you by your words, so damn what??? If you piss *enough* people off, however, you either have to change your tune, tow the line, or just say to hell with it, these guys are complete idiots, I'm off to start my own Advogato site.

By the way, that's one other important thing (arenas), I'll do another post on this.

Arenas, Forums, Communities., posted 11 Apr 2000 at 10:39 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

Ok, so you have this site called Advogato. It has aims, in fact, only one aim: to bring Open Source Developers together, cut out the noise. Well, what about other forums?

In fact, what "Trusted Right" does one person have in a form to throw their status around in another? Let's suppose that I am a poet, and I am a well-respected, "Master"-status poet on I write a fantastic poem that has the Open Source community in such a frenzied lather that they conspire to call me Outcast, and trash my standing on AdvoPoems. Doesn't make much sense, if you ask me.

Heck, you could even sub-divide by *BSD and Linux, if you really wanted to. At that point, I'd recommend that you start doing sub-communities (see reply on 38.html, it describes more about groups and sub-groups).

Conclusion: the Trust Metric system should be extend to encompass "forums", or "communities". At the moment, there is only one forum: Advogato.

Title usefulness., posted 14 Apr 2000 at 11:35 UTC by starshine » (Journeyer)

I look at all this, as one who managed to find glitches in The Geek Code. Where marriage status assumes your geek status goes to the dogs (I married a fellow geek. Our nerd power increases as we work together on things and the home network rivals small companies.) Where some don't have enough ratings between merely knowing that Foo exists and claiming great guru powers. Where the same rating on one type that says "I am The Godly Being Who Writes This Stuff" is only equivalent to "Pretty Good Hack" on another. Never mind the seperation of Ability from Interest (a few years ago, I was P+++$>----)

Of course any of you are welcome to read what I wrote into my diary entry after doing my first certification run.

I do like the idea of offering a few different honorifics per level, and allowing one to pick among those. I do object to MCSE in the "dimwit" equivalence, though I find it amusing and ironic that it's for the same reasons that some have objected to dimwit.

Is the MCSE a dimwit because he isn't "with it" on the open source idea, or because she decided to go for a certification instead of get herself a bunch of real world experience? or did they post themselves as that type to torq off/amuse a buddy? Maybe yd doesn't know that MCSE is a low instead of a high rating?

So perhaps there should be a grid rather than a single continuum, so we get multiple tracks. How much/good Documentation do you do? Coding New Stuff? Bugfixing and QA? Social Action? (I'm trying to avoid OS bias tho.) That way I can rate the people who keep an occaional prima donna type (tho excellent coder) from tearing up half-finished projects in disgust as high on social clue, though they may rate themselves wimpy at code and doco. And the persistently rude can be knocked down on the social track, and up on the reasons we put up with them anyway.

I think fussing over the gender stuff was not only annoying, but counter productive. Unfortunately it's too late to slap the one who started it. The only way to erase this problem - like spam - is to ignore it when nothing can be done about it, educate when it can, and above all remain polite so you don't get sucked into the mire it represents. Funny thing is, I had to say this in an entirely different context - another ism - so I'll repeat it here, only "santitized" for you sensitive types out there: This ism won't really be gone until in some later age, a student is asking the history teacher what this paragraph means. The teacher is unable to explain it effectively - since noone living has experienced the problems described directly. But when was the end of this ism? Noone really knows. It must have been 50 or more years past. Perhaps we should remove it from the history books? No.

It's not the words themselves. The problem is the power that people give these words to prevent folks from working together. (Such as a how a bunch of twits on a #channel respond to your nick.) In this case, seems someone thought using guild words would be cool, gives a nice mystique. Someone else notes one word in the set isn't accurate to the way the trades use them. Yet another goes ballistic because the suggested replacement contains a grubby 3 letters and they haven't gotten out of the 16th century yet, and in fact the whole guild thing is so 16th century that they start a big flame. *sigh*

I kinda liked the guild thing. I don't care if it's "er" or "man" (I pronounce, m<schwa diminished>n). There's just no way to please everyone. If Raph wants to see it changed, well, he'll (hopefully!) decide based on fun and clarity. Some folks will whine anyway. It's our netizen duty to *ignore* them if they're off topic. (tho this was on topic for "are the titles good?")

Enough on that, I have caffeine to ingest, pillows to visit, and a lot of delving around ins someone else's code to do tomorrow. See y'all later.

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