Let me begin by saying I have no dog in this fight.  MOTA is not a game I'm
interested in at all, but the fact that I've spent a fair amount of time
commenting favorably on Jeremy's games should not be construed as evidence
of anything other than that I like his ideas, and he and I have had fruitful
dialogue from consumer to developer.  I feel I've been able to contribute to
the success of his games, if only by a few suggested tweaks here and there
that may have made play easier for some.  But I have no dog in this fight.

What I have is a lot of experience in community building.  I am a part of
several distinct and often stormy communities, and I've learned a thing or
two about traumatic events, which the discussions leading to Thomas'
departure and return to this list qualifies as.  So, I'm going to speak from
a deal of experience, as a former programmer, as a man with a wife and
family whom I adore more than anything else in this world, as a game
consumer, and as someone who lives out in the real world of professionalism,
and as someone who has been on email lists since their beginnings.

The claim has been made by several people that the medium, i.e. email makes
misunderstandings more prevalent as we miss tone and other clues to context.
This is true to a point, but it is all too often used as a crutch, an excuse
or a mitigating circumstance for appalling behavior.  Remember, as blind
folk, we are supposed to be really good at pulling meaning out of incomplete
information; I make my living doing this, so do many of you, at least
indirectly.  The sighted world doesn't give a toss that its visual
information and even body language cues aren't available to us, you learn to
adapt, or you become a socially damaged person who fails at interaction.  To
put all the onus on the reader of an email is a misdirection of
responsibility.  That holds true for everyone here, and I'm not aiming that
comment only at Thomas, though he may rightly take himself as an exemplar of
this phenomenon.  

Let me go out of my way to live up to my own standard here by saying that I
do not mean to say that Thomas is a social failure; I don't know him in
personal life, and all my interactions with him have been cordial, even on
the subject of Python, which sparked a recent iteration of the programming

Now, the moment I saw the thread comparing Jeremy's programming speed to
others, (which I stopped reading quickly) I knew something awful was going
to happen.  It truly isn't fair comparing Thomas' and Jeremy's projects,
love Jeremy's programs though I do.  It might be that others could learn by
Jeremy's example to create a more rapid time line for development, but
that's not relevant or constructive in this community.  I don't remember
exactly how things got started, and I frankly ignored most of the kerfuffle,
being too busy trying to survive to worry about the programming religious
wars.  I may have missed some of the nuances.

What I have not missed is some extremely unprofessional behavior on the part
of a list moderator, someone who voluntarily took on the health of this
community as one of his goals.  Forgive my seeming coldness, but Thomas'
family problems have no bearing on his behavior on list, any more than would
my own stresses about where my August rent is coming from would be an
acceptable excuse for me to behave in an unseemly fashion.

To other members of this community, there is a difference between genuine
forgiveness and a simple papering over of differences in the interests of
conflict avoidance.  For one thing, forgiveness does not equal
forgetfulness.  I believe Thomas is genuinely contrite, but the community
must honor the feelings of those he has offended as much as his contrition
in order for genuine, community-wide healing to proceed.  Telling someone to
be quiet because Thomas has apologized is (forgive the pun) short-sighted
and won't address the opportunity this community has to consciously choose
how to heal itself from the breach.  It also tells people that, in a
community of equals, some people are more equal than others.  That is not a
state of affairs that can be productive.

I urge the following steps be taken.  Thomas should immediately resign from
his position as moderator.  Thomas should not be banned or sanctioned in any
other way at this point, allow him to move forward with his life, with the
production of MOTA and Raceway, and any other projects catch his interest.
Let us proceed as though he had asked us for our patience, citing his family
problems as a reason, something no compassionate person could fail to give
him.  Any future moderators of this group must be ready to step on any
discussions of programming practices that depart from purely technical

Finally, and most importantly, this community has to make a conscious
decision.  Are we a bunch of consumers in a forum with a few developers, or
are we a single community with the goals of mutual support with the idea of
creating an environment where the best games can be produced for the widest
markets possible?  This is a question, the answer to which greatly affects
how this community can proceed.  If we are consumers, than this should
become a professional-quality list where personal issues are left at the
door.  If instead, we are something like an extended family, supporting our
developers with our enthusiasm, money where possible, and human interaction
for, what is often, a lone effort, then all of us, developers and consumers
alike have to remember to be human, and to see each other as human, to give
the benefit of the doubt where possible, to assume the best until disproven,
to ask when clarification is needed, and above all to hope for, pray for
(for those that do this) and work for the best outcome for *everyone*.

I have treated this community mostly as the first option, a forum for
consumers to contact developers, rather than as anything more personal.  I
see now that others see it much more personally, and that we need to have
this discussion, to as someone put it, make sure that something good comes
out of what happened.  We all co-create the world of this list and its
surrounding community.  What world shall we make?  Who are we at the end of
the day?  Would we help one another in a pinch, lend the shirt off our
backs, feed one another, love one another as Jesus and a lot of other
wonderful teachers have taught us?  That's not a foregone conclusion, and
may not be appropriate, but it's time we chose our way.

You stand at an intersection of many roads.  Some lead to dissolution and
death.  Some lead to uncomfortable reminders of the continual search for our
own perfection, some lead to other unknown lands.  A fog of confusion and
indecision surrounds you; sounds of combat coming out of the mist from
directional impossible to tell.  Possible exits: too many to count.

        Christopher Bartlett

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