Update 3/30/2007: I am “an asshat”, I spelled Hani’s name wrong in the original post. Was spelling Suleiman as Sulemani. Maybe it is the Spring 2.0 XML that is curdling my brain?
If you haven’t already, you should read Sierra’s blog and then write her a quick note of encouragement. If you don’t know, she’s the brains behind the heads up series, and, trust me, I know you have a copy on your desk even if you are too embarrassed to admit it. Those books are both incredibly effective and dense. Everyone who has a copy should take a moment, and thank her for her contribution.
But, this entry isn’t about Ms. Sierra, it is really about another prominent member of the community who’s under some fire, in part, because of the experiences of Ms. Sierra. Hani Suleiman, most of the readers of this blog, probably know who Hani is, and if the name doesn’t ring a bell, than saying “BileBlog” probably will. You’ve read it, and if you haven’t, then Google it. I’m not going to link to it, not because I disapprove, but because it does contain some obscenities. In addition to writing the BileBlog, Hani also sits on the Executive Committee of the Java Community Process.
Bray’s take on the BileBlog
Bray wrote an entry entitled “On Aggression”, in which he makes a clear connection between the kind of blogging that forced Kathy to cancel a presentation and Hani’s obscenity-laden dress down of people throughout Javaland. quote from Bray:
Its contents are almost entirely viciously obscene rants against individuals and factions in the Java community, based on Hani’s perception of their technical or ethical failings. Hani seems to have a fixation on violent, degrading male-male sexual abuse and this constitutes the core of his attack technique.
He gets away with it–is fairly popular in fact–because he’s also funny. A couple of years ago I and another person were talking this over and proposed a scenario: suppose one of Hani’s victims were mugged by four or five random hoodlums and beaten up severely, while the hoodlums made witty and amusing remarks to entertain the passers-by and watchers. Would the violence be OK because of the leavening with humor? I don’t think so. So why is what Hani does OK?
In the comment thread you’ll see that the main discussion point is Bray’s use of Hani as an example.
Hani didn’t waste time, and responded directly in the comment thread of Bray’s blog.
I think you’re being hugely unfair here. What I do is very, very, clearly humour. I abhor violence and am one of the few people I know who has never, ever been in a fight or thrown a punch. I find the whole concept of physical violence revolting, and view it as a throwback to the time when we were all far less socially evolved than we are now.
Three paragraphs later:
…It’s very insulting and offensive to be put in that same bucket as those who made serious threats of physical violence. Perhaps you’re better off running into whatever shell you’d like to live under, and stick to a world whereby everyone does socially acceptable things (by your standards) and nobody ever challenges your sense of propriety.
I dare you to find anyone who thinks the bileblog’s sexual references and abusive language is anything but humour. Many people find it distasteful and not funny, and that’s perfectly acceptable. You’d have to be a complete idiot and in need of professional help if you think it’s serious.
My take on Hani’s blog
The sexual references don’t add anything to the message, they detract from it. I think that some of his writing plays off of the same childish appeal that makes people want to listen to Howard Stern in the morning. In this sense Hani is a shock jock completely crossing the line of decency. I think people read him for the same reason that people have been refreshing the DrudgeReport every ten minutes for the last decade. For some reason, Hani’s blog captured a huge audience, in part, because there’s not much interesting going on in Java blogging. He provided good theater, that’s all.
On the other hand, he has some very valuable things to say (even if they are hidden under a layer of filth). One example (cleaned up), “Maven is a joke and people who evangelize it are all idiots”. Even though I’ve helped to write a book on Maven, I’ll have to agree that there is a kernel of truth in what he has to say about Maven. Maven is far from perfect, it was released as a 1.x only to be completely rewritten as a 2.x, and it still languishes as a project that people love to loathe. Hani has attacked some of the biggest in Java, sometimes deservedly, sometimes not. He loves to dig into ASF projects as well, read this one on commons-io. (Note: I think he’s wrong about commons-io, I use it every single day.) He makes fun of Craig McClanahan’s name, which I think is unwarranted and annoying.
Then there are the various places you’ll see Hani pop up. For instance, he popped up on the ASF incubator discussion list a few months back as an initial committer to incubating XFire. He’s admitted that his contributions were few, but you still have to give him some credit for trying to participate in a Foundation he has skewered, and you have to believe that his participation on the conference committee for TheServerSide and the JCP Executive Committee are not a joke. On top of that he’s an external reviewer for the JavaOne JEE and Web tracks. He’s not the evil menace his targets make him out to be.
I don’t fault Bray for bringing Hani up in the post, I can’t say I didn’t have the same thought when I read Sierra’s blog. Hani has written some really personal, negative attacks on people I’ve met and respect who didn’t deserve it, but at the same time, I do not think it is valid to lump Hani in with the people who posted death threats. I stand his obscenity riddled maniac posts because in the middle of all of the vitriol is an opinion. And, for all the annoyingly vauge corporate Java blogs out there, we need an opinion every now and then, even if it stinks.
Do I agree with what he has to say? maybe 20% of the time.. Does the obscenity get in the way? yes. Should Hani’s style of blogging be banned in a new Blogging Code of Conduct? No, a thousand times no. Should he get rid of the references to genitalia, etc? My recommendation: immediately.