Gentle Reader, Welcome to my humble guide to being a Real Guru on the linux-kernel mailing list; an estimated 20,000 others are reading it as well; through digests, exploders and directly. And anyone can post. It's the focal point of mainstream Linux development. And you don't need to know anything to contribute!
Every time a burst of unrelated mail goes through, a few key people unsubscribe, defeating the purpose of the list. Don't worry though! That only applies to junk that other people post. Random ass-mumblings which you send in will confer instant Godhood.
The Bazaar development model is obviously fundamentally flawed; the sooner we turn linux-kernel into a wasteland, the sooner we can return to a closed inner Team Linux Circle, of ad-hoc lists in personal EMail. Sure, less peer-review and actual code writing and all that, but on the upside we get to use the Kernel Hacker's Secret Handshake.
We've already started! Many core developers have given up, and do not read linux-kernel at all, and the rest have all considered doing so at one time or another. Each loss reduces our ability to coordinate ourselves, furthur proving the failure of The Bazaar, and irritating ESR.
I've been reading linux-kernel for some years now. I'm a minor maintainer (the IP packet filter code for 2.2). I'd really love to see linux-kernel closed, because not having to deal with bug reports and peer review would save me whole hours per day.
Every so often, David Miller, Alan Cox, Linus Torvalds, or one of the other kernel gurus gets in an argument with one of the others. If you don't have anything to contribute, then obviously it's time to send a ``why don't we all take a deep breath'' message; they'll listen to you since you're a personal friend of those involved.
Since these geek-gods are incapable of using a telephone or private EMail, you're sure to be aware of all sides of the conversation: making you the perfect messenger!
Imagine the praise when Linus mails back to you (and CC's the list!) a message like the following:
Thanks, Lou! After reading your soothing message of peace, I realized that the world will be better if we drop these arguments and all get along! It's more important that we're all in agreement than any fuzzy `cleanliness' or `efficiency' crap. I'm going to start rewriting the kernel in Java right now! Linus.
Remember not to complain to the origin of the spam (even if you know
how). Make sure you quote the entire original spam! And why not
suggest allowing posting only by those subscribed to the list?
I Know The Answer To This One!
If it's an FAQ, and you're not the maintainer of that area, be sure to send it to the list; remember, noone reads the FAQ anyway, and the reader might not read the other five responses (there's so much crap on linux-kernel these days!). If it's not an FAQ, send it to the list as well: although it might be an obscure problem, obviously everyone wants to see your reply!
If you're the maintainer of the area, and it's an FAQ, do
not consider sending a `canonical' reply to the list
for other people's benefit. Sending it to the FAQ maintainer is a
really stupid idea.
Who Does This Guy Think He Is?
Some people would ask ``Who cares?'' Those people are losers. If you
feel like flaming someone, don't flame them personally; linux-kernel
is your personal pissing patch; maybe they've already been killfiled
by the core people, but if you reply to them to the list, you don't
have to worry about joining them (nobody with a clue would killfile
someone like you)!
I Found This Thing On Slashdot!
Cool! We would have missed it for sure: please send it to 20,000
people; many kernel hackers haven't figured out how to use the web
I Have This Great Idea!
Great! You definitely shouldn't be prepared to implement it (or fund
its implementation): such grunt-work isn't for geniuses like
you! If you are not capable of implementing it,
you're definitely capable of knowing whether it's a
good idea or not (it is, of course!).
There are many recurring threads on the list; posting on these topics gives you an inside track into guruhood!
Every day, Linus gets 1.3 metric shitloads of mail. A good rule of
thumb for mortals is to send Linus as much mail as he sends them. But
it relieves Linus' tedium to realize that there are
real peers like yourself out there! Send away!
HTML Mail/vcards/PGP signatures are cool!
Wooohoo! Too right! Plain text is for losers. Have another beer!
Someone like yourself doesn't need to make patches;
your words speak better than code. But in case you should stoop so
low, make sure it's not done the standard way (diff -urN linux-fresh
linux-modified); if it was hard to make, it should be hard to apply.
Uuencoding a gzipp'ed patch, or using a base64 MIME attachment means
that casual readers can't look at it; only hard core coders like
you should be reading it anyway.
If your patch is large, don't post a URL; if you did a patch, everyone will want it in their mailboxes ASAP!
Remember the First Rule of Usenet: ``Nobody Gives a Fuck About Your Opinions'', and the Zeroth Rule of Usenet: ``The Rules Don't Apply to You!''.