Llogiq on stuff

Traffic Jams

One word that often falls when discussing the Rust community is “nice”. And yes, this is the result of active effort of a number of official and inofficial participants. Today I’m going to compare the Rust community with traffic.

There have been studies that show you need to direcly control only about 5% of cars to eliminate traffic jams (sorry, I’m not going to google the paper, trying to make a point here), and I believe the same applies to assholery in programming communities: If just 5% agree on being nice, they may sway the behavior of the community as a whole.

That is not to say everyone welcomes this kind of control. Imagine being in an almost-jam, trying to weasle through traffic, cutting off people left and right, only to find that a few cars before you, some cars coast, forming a slow-ish barrier you (and perhaps the cars before you) cannot pass. They’re slowing you down! You’d honk in righteous anger! What you don’t (and probably don’t want to) know is that those cars slow down to avoid a traffic jam, by keeping you from creating it.

(As an aside, I find that driving in traffic tends to bring out the worst in us. I’m unsure why that is, but I hear that people behave less well if they feel being in their private space, and most people count their cars in that category)

In a community the coasters being nice have a similar effect on those trying to weasel their way through, shaming and trolling left and right. People being nice offend those who don’t want to be nice themselves, and those people honk “SJW Police! Witch hunt!” in self-righteous fury. Lacking empathy, they think others are only nice to appear better than them, to make them look bad. Why else would someone waste the time and energy? Worse, with the backdrop of all this friendlyness, their weasling attempts suddenly starkly contrast. So they start to resent the “SJWs” on their high horses with their holier-than-you ‘tude.

By defending their “freedom” to bring everyone else to a halt, they’re telling you that them being at their destination five seconds earlier is more valuable than everyone around them not being stuck in traffic for another half an hour. I sincerely doubt the idea that those metaphoric five seconds benefit the community as a whole more than the multitude of half-hours wasted by being stuck.

This is not to say that everyone who blurts “Freedom of Speech” is an asshole. Some were just raised to believe that freedom is the biggest ideal and will reflexively fight everything that appears to curtail it. I personally believe this is misguided. Freedom of Speech is not Guarantee of Audience. I have yet to see any of those people speaking up when someone loud and obnoxious is thrown out of a restaurant – yet by extension of the same logic this should also count as a free speech violation, right?

Anyway, enough of the rambling. The key takeaway is that the argument that a Code of Conduct keeps people from getting things done is completely bogus. On the contrary, it keeps people from keeping other people from getting things done. I’ll leave you here with a verse:

Let’s play a game & surprise folks’round you by being nice Who gets most smiles this way wins this game & the day Now go & apply this advice