About rants: cathartic but generally destructive

Before you post a rant about something going on in the Mozilla project, take a moment to put yourself in the other person’s shoes — getting blindsided by a bunch of criticism on a widely-read forum when no one had previously asked you about it or tried talking to you is never, ever fun.

Posting a rant is also a pretty crap way to get your point across, because:

a) It’s hurtful and humiliating to the person being criticised
b) It immediately puts the other person on the defensive
c) It brings the situation to the direct attention of a larger number of people, which makes the other person feel even worse if they do turn out to be wrong
d) It often doesn’t accomplish a lot other than bring some widespread drama to a situation that probably could have been resolved in a much more sensible way

Mozillians are almost invariably smart, capable people who care deeply about what they’re doing and are always genuinely trying to do the right thing. Always start from that premise, give them the benefit of the doubt, and just talk to them if there’s a problem.

One thought on “About rants: cathartic but generally destructive

  1. I agree 100%, as you know, and have often tried to talk to people privately about better ways to get one’s point across.

    One thing I commonly hear from ranters, though, is that the rant wasn’t their first attempt at trying to find someone to talk to about a question or problem. Often times they have filed a bug in Bugzilla, or have searched on a Wiki for information, or even asked in IRC or a newsgroup and gotten no response. As such, I’ve started now empathizing up front with people about how it can be hard to get attention, but going negative isn’t a great option.

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