Free Software Community and forking

I just read an interesting approach to finding a life partner [1]. A summary is “There is a sad truth to the world today. I am part of a dying breed of people known as “shell users.” … Because there are fewer and fewer of us, I must help keep our lineage alive. I am looking for someone to help me do this. I need a woman (obviously) who is willing to raise a child with me in the method of Unix.“.

While there is a moderate amount of humour in the post (I recommend that you read it in full) it is a genuine attempt to find a partner.

One thing that has occurred to me is that part of the cause of the attitude toward women that is sometimes demonstrated in my community is the fact that there are so many guys who are single and have been single for a long time. If this problem was alleviated then I believe that some of the other social issues would be significantly improved.

The advert in question is a bit more courageous than most guys would be prepared to consider (it’s up there with the guy who paid for a giant sign to be installed beside a highway). But there are many other options.

ESR has some advice to offer [2], but the name of the URL (sextips) seems an accurate representation of the focus of the pages. One problem with ESR’s advice is that it seems to assume an ability to be extroverted (or at least fake it) which is greater than many geeks possess. Another problem is that he assumes that geeks are inherently more intelligent than average people – there is more than adequate evidence to disprove this theory. It seems more reasonable to only assume that geeks are better than average at doing geeky things.

It seems to me that the one thing that geeks really are better at is writing email! Therefore it seems logical that geeks who want good success in meeting women should try and involve the use of email in some way. Singles web sites seem an obvious way to take advantage of this. Unfortunately there is a strange cultural aversion to using such web sites which even afflicts geeks. For some reason it’s thought to be a good idea to try and meet a life partner in a place where there is inadequate light, too much background noise to talk properly, and where everyone has taken mind-altering chemicals (I am referring to drinking alcohol at a bar of night-club). Once strange cultural ideas are discarded it seems obvious that if you want to meet a potential life-partner then you should do so in a place where there is good light, an opportunity to talk, and where everyone is in a normal state of mind. Starting out with email and then talking over the phone and exchanging JPEG pictures seems to be a sensible option in this regard.

Most times that you chat to someone you meet over the net it won’t go any further than email or maybe phone-calls. But that’s still entertaining and useful practice at communicating with women.

One thing that the Craig’s List advertiser really got right is that he knows what he wants. An advantage of the singles sites on the net is that they often force people to make decisions. When a singles site demands that you enter a desired number of children that you want to have (with 0 being an acceptable answer) then you will be forced to consider the issue and make a decision. While being prepared to negotiate about such things may be desirable, I can’t imagine anyone finding it appealing when someone doesn’t know what they want or doesn’t have the confidence to say it.

Finally don’t rule out the possibility of meeting someone through your local LUG. There are a quite a few married couples who met through the Linux community. But don’t go making “pick-up” attempts on women in the community – the result will not be positive.

Via Michael Still.

8 comments to Free Software Community and forking

  • I totally agree that a big part of the aggressiveness towards us women by geeks and nerds might be caused by their own problems when interacting with us, and their lack of skills for flirting. Some seem to consider that we’re their enemies and have really strange complains about us not being sexually interested in them. This aggressiveness sometimes seem to taint their whole interaction with women in every aspect of their lifes, not just the mating stuff, including hobbies, work, free software, etc.

    About the second part, well, a big part of the mating interest and attraction of a person as a partner in our society is caused by the perceived social value of that person, whatever that means. What this implies, is that those kind of advertisements might be sending the wrong message to the targets, they not only send the message that you’re looking for a partner, but also that you’re unable to find one, and that lowers your value in the “mating market”. I’m not being sexist here, this applies equally to men and women, even when the criteria for setting someone’s social value might be different in both cases. In my personal opinion, putting that kind of ad in your web page is not a good strategy for finding a partner.

    Also, regarding finding a partner in your local LUG, keep in mind that there’s usually very few of us in most LUGs, and that there seem to be much more boys than girls trying to find a partner there. This means that there are too many “pick-up” attempts on every girl, especially if she’s attractive, and it can become quite annoying. We -girls- don’t usually go to LUGs to find a partner, at least most of us, so we’re not usually in the mood for pick-up attempts there, so spending the whole meeting fighting that becomes a bit annoying sometimes, and thus counter-productive as you mention. That doesn’t mean you cannot find your partner there, just that you shouldn’t be going there for making “pick-up” attempts. In fact, keep in mind that whichever girl you try to flirt with in a LUG, there might be 8 other guys flirting with her there too.

    Lastly, I think it would be quite wrong to look for a girlfriend just with the only purpose of raising a child with a unix-like ideology. It can happen that your marriage (or partnership, or whatever) doesn’t last too much, and it can also happen that the child becomes uninterested in computer when (s)he grows up. Every person has their own personality and interests, you know, and it would be extremelly unfair to the child to force him into a hobby (s)he might not like at all, just because their parents want that future for hir. It’s kinda you were interested in computers but your parents forced you to be a lawyer. Think about it.

  • emj

    On slashdot…

    I’m not sure I see the aggressiveness among my friends. Most hard core nerds I know don’t talk about women, though they have their lapses into Anime.

    My biggest problem as a nerd searching for a companion was being too judgemental. People really are different when you know them, so first impression is very deceptive..

  • These discussions seem to make a case for some common genetic trait like autism spectrum disorder where a male geek has a problem with picking up on flirting and social cues and sending positive social cues which leads to interaction problems growing up and the problems of being a geek which means that folks expect that you can’t find a mate and then seeking a mate and finding someone who does’t devalue your social worth for being one.

  • etbe

    Miriam: Regarding your second paragraph. I would not advocate putting a personal advert on your web site. I suggest that anyone who uses such a service only register with a nick-name or their first-name. As for “lowering your value”, a woman who reads Craigs List for personal adverts surely wouldn’t have such an opinion of men who advertise there. If a method of attracting a potential SO is only visible to a self-selecting group of people who are in the same situation then it shouldn’t be a problem. That said, being bold surely is a positive factor for single guys. Guys who go on TV game shows and do other unusual things to find women appear to get a moderate amount of interest (much more than the they might get trawling the local bar).

    Regarding paragraph 3, absolutely. The best strategy for a guy who wants to meet women at his local LUG would probably be to act in a positive manner (be helpful and nice to everyone) and let women send him email if they wish.

    Regarding paragraph 4, it seems to be a standard practice for people to strongly encourage their children to either do what they do or do what they wish they had done. It’s OK to do that to a certain extent but children do need to make their own decisions.

    Thomas: The first link was more comedy than advice. The second one is interesting, particularly the comments.

    emj: If you don’t see attitude problems among your geek friends then you must be making a good attitude a pre-requisite for being your friend (which is not necessarily a bad thing). But I believe that there are problems in the community which could be significantly alleviated by more geek guys having GFs. This is not necessarily from the geek guys behaving better after getting a GF, but maybe from being less tolerant of certain types of bad behaviour from others.

    Kevin: The prevalence of personality traits that fit the Autism spectrum among the geek community is obvious. There are more than a few geeks who have published the ways in which they match the criteria, and lots of others who appear to meet some of the criteria in obvious ways.

  • craig


    RE: “children need to make their own decisions” – absolutely! and if they don’t like computers, you can always send them back and get a refund or replacement :-)

    RE: “…more geek guys having GFs”. the trouble is that it’s quite hard to find one that will actually say things like “yes, we should build a proper AC server room when we get around to building the extension at the back of the house, that makes perfect sense” instead of “you love that bloody computer more than you love me”. i’ve had both. i prefer and greatly appreciate the former :)

    emj commented about being too judgemental…IMO, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. better to be by yourself than to convince yourself that you don’t mind some annoying thing (and better again to be with someone you actually like who is reasonably compatible). anyway, if you’re not content and happy with your own company, how can you expect anyone else to be?

    if you’re smart, pick someone who is also smart…either another smart geek or someone who is at least as good in their field as you are in yours, and with a similar outlook and approach to life, and interests etc that aren’t incompatible (they don’t have to be the same, just not conflict). you’ll only end up looking down on them otherwise, or at least pissing each other off.

    RE: autism. it’s not quite that simple. geek doesn’t automatically mean autistic, and autistic doesn’t automatically mean geek. yes, it’s obviously there in some, but it’s not in others….not all are incapable of understanding & learning social behaviour skills, some are just oblivious (in the sense of the archetypal distracted professor), some are indifferent, some are cocky and arrogant and bulldoze their way through just as cocky and arrogant non-geeks do, and some are actually quite skilled socially, even outside of geek social settings.

    i think the autism thing has been latched on to as a copout, so that socially lazy geeks can say “i don’t have to bother, i’m autistic” – as if that’s something to be proud of.

    i.e. very similar to the way that many parents use ADHD as a copout: “i’m not a useless, pathetic parent and my kid ISN’T an annoying arsehole spoilt brat, he’s got ADHD” which, of course, makes it okay that he’s pissing on your bookshelf and trying to bugger the cat or chucking a tantrum in the supermarket or whatever.

  • > “children need to make their own decisions” – absolutely! and if they don’t like computers, you can always send them back and get a refund or replacement :-)

    I think the most you might get is a 30 days back guarantee… I don’t know if more than that will be covered, and in 30 days, you might not be able to find out :P

  • craig

    only a thirty day guarantee? when the merchandise is clearly broken? outrageous!

    it’s a good thing that neither me nor my partner want children (whether they turn out geek or not), then, isn’t it?