I hang out a lot in ##computer, the IRC channel for Computer Anonymous. I like the people there, I think the code of conduct is good, and I genuinely think it’s a great channel which I am glad exists.
It turns out that when a bunch of people band together as a refuge against how terrible everything is, a lot of the conversation centers around how terrible everything is. There’s frequent linking to examples of things being terrible, a massive amount of snark in response to various events, etc.
Which is fine. That’s a large part of what the channel is for. But given what a large percentage of my IRC time it is, and given that I’m currently living in a city where I’m pretty isolated from everyone in the tech community who isn’t one of my flatmates, it’s making my exposure to the world of tech very unbalanced. There’s a lot of stuff in tech that is terrible, but not everything in tech is terrible, and a picture which makes it looks like it is is proving very bad for my mental health.
So I would like to try an experiment to offset it. A place to talk about things being actually pretty good! And this is where the new sister channel, ##computer-enthusiasm (Note: Two hashes at the front. It’s a freenode thing) comes in.
Here are the rules of ##computer-enthusiasm:
- The code of conduct of Computer Anonymous still applies. This is an inclusive space, and isms of all stripes are unwelcome.
- No starting conversations about things being bad. In particular no hate-linking to things to show how terrible they are. Note: “Here is this great idea someone had for fixing thing that is bad” is totally allowed and actively encouraged.
- If you think something that someone else has brought up is bad, you’re entirely welcome to say so, but please explain why. If possible, try to do so non-judgementally. “I had a bad experience with that software” is fine. “Oh god that software is terrible” is not. “When people do X it tends to exclude people like me who are Y” is fine (and super encouraged) but “Only assholes do X” is not.
- Sarcasm and snark are discouraged. This is super hard to police, so we’re not going to, but I would like you to self regulate, and give people gentle nudges if you think they’re doing a bad job of it. If this proves insufficient we can try to come up with something more concrete.
- Mentioning or linking to things you think are neat is a great idea. Do as much of that as you want. It doesn’t even have to be tech related.
- There is no such thing as off topic as long as it adheres to the above rules.
I wouldn’t want these norms to be in place everywhere – that would be pure cult of positive thinking, which is legit terrible – but I’d like a place where they hold. Tech can be terrible, but it also can be pretty amazing when it goes well, and I’d like somewhere that we can focus on that.