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Use of Foul Language on a Public Site #20

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GeorgeLangley opened this Issue March 21, 2012 · 91 comments
George Langley

I have found this site of immense use, that I want to add it to a list of resources for an educational presentation. But am I loathe to do so when there is foul language on it.
For example, "to prevent people from just making 'stuff' up" on the semantics page:

http://diveintohtml5.info/semantics.html

is unnecessary and is easily replaced with a more-appropriate "to prevent people from just making their own rel values".
This would increase the value and legitimacy of this resource.
Thank you.

Divya Manian

That is ridiculous. This resource needs to be maintained in the spirit of what Mark Pilgrim intended, at best make corrections, not change the way Mark wanted this resource to be read.

Using 'shit', 'fuck' as in this context is not hurting anyone other than those who think these words should not be used in common parlance (even though they already are!).

I am a big -1 on this.

Jonathan Neal
Collaborator

First, if anyone is seriously interested in contributing to this discussion, I recommend reading http://people.howstuffworks.com/swearing.htm

I think this issue merits a real discussion. Those who enjoy the freedom of using inciting language would be very bothered by removing this and other examples of profanity in this resource, as would individuals who would like to preserve Mark's digital personality in Dive Into HTML5. However, profanity does has a strong, emotional, often discomforting and absolutely measurable psychological impact on people, and it wouldn't require science to acknowledge what "cussing" means to people who can read and hear English. Mark's words are used deliberately to express his personal frustration humorously and with mild shock value. An example follows:

Over time, the list of quirks grew, and so did the list of doctypes that triggered “quirks mode.” The last time I tried to count, there were 5 doctypes that triggered “almost standards mode,” and 73 that triggered “quirks mode.” But I probably missed some, and I’m not even going to talk about the crazy shit that Internet Explorer 8 does to switch between its four — four! — different rendering modes. Here’s a flowchart. Kill it. Kill it with fire.

My opinion is that anything unnecessarily negative or profane should be modified so that the resource may be used by all people and all cultures and societies (and as a tangent, the book should be translated too).

JR Houn

I think I'd have to agree with what jonathantneal mentioned earlier - while 'cussing' can come across as expression it can also detract from the purpose of education. What I mean is that perhaps the spirit of what Mark wanted, ultimately, was to make knowledge of HTML5 eminently accessible to a broader audience that didn't want to read a technical manual. The spirit of this goal can definitely be accomplished without alienating portions of the reading audience.

Enoch Chu

I agree with GeorgeLangley and jonathantneal. Although it might not hurt people to use "shit" or "fuck" (and personally i think its humorous), we can't assume that the way we read is easily translatable to other people (try playing the telephone game).

Furthermore, profanity assumes too much. If I say, this "implementation is fucking wrong", the reader might take "fucking" and assumes that whoever uses that implementation is X, Y and Z. Simply put, good written documentation shouldn't lead the reader to further assumptions.

I'm all for documentation that's easily readable for everybody and at any educational or skill level I definitely benefited from well written material and I hope such benefit extends to everybody regardless of culture, language and educational background. In my opinion, removing profanity is a cheap way to achieve that goal.

Paul Irish
Collaborator

My feeling is that Mark Pilgrim would want his name stricken from the entire project if you remove something so characteristically Mark as his use of foul language.

His voice is what makes this resource such a fun read. Nerfing the personality of the text is a big -1 from me

Marc Stalfoort

I have to agree with nimbupani on this one
Mark has written this and shared it with all of us. As webdevelopers we have to deal with differences between browsers and it's understandable (and in my eyes perfectly legal) to have a profound statement so now and then.
Since it's on github, why not create a fork and make an educational version?

Eric Elliott

I agree with paulirish and mstalfoort - fork it if you want to nerf it.

Jonathan Neal
Collaborator

I advertised this discussion really well today, and I'm pleased to read a variety of views.

I want students and educators across a broad spectrum of cultures and societies to use and enjoy this resource. We should not ignore this request and continue exercising our right to be sour with our words at the expense of those who take serious issue with this kind of illicit negativity (even when it is used for shock value in expressing anger humorously). I will remove the profanity, and I'm asking for understanding from Paul, Divya, and Marc.

Mark Pilgrim is not here to decide for us now, nor is he the sole author of this living, evolving resource. However, Mark was, by no means, deeply profane in this work. Statistically, there are over 35,000 words (including code examples) on the main pages of Dive Into HTML5, and about 16 of those words (0.045%) are profane. Furthermore, Dive Into HTML5 is, by invention, an educational resource. Education is its primary goal. This is an educational resource, and removing the profanity from this resource will further its ability to educate. Therefore, we should do this, and it is an improvement. It is the right thing to do. Mark should have done this too.

http://diveintohtml5.info/past.html

These people are not gods, nor are they flawless. They’re just people. Smart people, to be sure. But just people.

Jonathan Neal jonathantneal closed this March 21, 2012
Paul Irish
Collaborator

38156cb


ugh.

John Drinkwater

What a ridiculous change.

Zev Goldberg
zrg commented March 22, 2012

boo.

Nate Cavanaugh

You know, when people say swearing doesn't matter to them, so it should be left in, let me ask, if it doesn't matter, why do they care so much if it's removed?

If people who are offended should get over it because it's just a word, then why can't the people using the offensive word, "get over it" that some other word is used in it's place?

But then again, maybe the "spirit" of Mark Pilgrim is such that he prefers to only reach those people who aren't bothered by swearing.
If that's the case, that limits the effectiveness of this resource. But I can't see any argument by which keeping swearing broaden's it's reach, or that using a less offensive word limits it's reach.

Divya Manian

This 38156cb is extremely disappointing @jonathantneal I would have thought you would go by consensus and not by random arbitrary views and let this issue receive further discussion.

This is not the resource I would want to recommend any more.

Mathias Bynens

This is not the cocksocking resource I would want to recommend any more, motherfucker.

FTFY

Jack Lawson

The majority of commenters preferred leaving it alone, and nobody actually spoke up and called it offensive, just that "it's possible that somebody somewhere might think it may be offensive".

Removing the original character of this work is offensive.

Hopefully @jonathantneal reconsiders his executive decision.

Anthony Ricaud
Rik commented March 22, 2012

Although I prefer the original version, I think anyone that is really annoyed by this change should just fork it and host it somewhere else.

David Bradbury

@natecavanaugh Personally, I don't believe in sterilizing language just so that people who 'might' be offended don't have to read it. I personally find it to be more personable and not in bad taste. Programming can already be a dull subject to some people, and throwing a little bit of attitude or spice helps to maintain your interest. If they don't like it, there are plenty of other resources. And yes, I care about swearing just as much as I do any other word - It enriches the language. Like anything, it can be overused and used in bad taste - But that isn't exclusive to swearing.

Jack Lawson

@Rik although in principal, you're right, having a canon version allows all changes to be made against a central repository that everyone can be confident is up to date.Collaboration on a master repository ensures that everyone benefits- that's why it's on Github in the first place.

Kenneth Reitz
Owner

I reverted this change.

Kenneth Reitz kennethreitz reopened this March 22, 2012
Jay Phelps

Begun the revert wars have.

Leo Balter

@kennethreitz thanks for reverting and reopening this issue for discussion. Arbitrariety is not a way to solve community driven projects.

Jonathan Neal
Collaborator

I saw an opportunity to improve something, I had an opinion, I took a day to think about it, I asked for input, I saw both sides, I quantified it, and I made a change.

Now there is a lot of emotional reaction. It's not wise.

There will not be a revert war either. I reverted Kenneth's change because it was done in haste. I would rather have spoken with him first, as I expected the same from him. I'm sorry for that, and for anyone who felt fear of a revert war. Anyway, Kenneth reverted my revert, and I hope we agree that neither of us gain anything from continuing along that path.

I hope discussions continue.

Les Orchard

Crimony. Just leave the original material alone and start a derivative fork.

Jack Lawson

I think part of the problem is that the original decision also seemed to have been done in haste:

I took a day to think about it.

I believe that you were acting in what you felt was the best interest, but the change itself feels like a knee-jerk reaction to the original issue; as strong as the community's opinion is about this book and its original author, more discussion should be had before changes are made. The emotional reaction was caused by the suddenness and seeming lack of discussion, or at least, the lack of acknowledgement of what little discussion there was; opening a 'discussion' and yet casting aside the majority opinion.

That said, I appreciate that the discussion can remain open.

Jonathan Neal
Collaborator

Have you visited http://diveintohtml5.info/ ?

A new note about this project. While Mark Pilgrim has ceased updating Dive Into HTML5, we wish for it to continue to grow. We're not just patching old links and updating APIs. We are actively maintaining it; refreshing, updating, and reflecting the relevant and current state of HTML5, just as it had been during Mark's tenure. We attribute this work in the manner specified by Mark, we've purchased a similar domain, and we make modifications to the site's content. We do not in any way suggest that he endorses us or our use of his work. We hope you do.

John-David Dalton

@nimbupani

That is ridiculous. This resource needs to be maintained in the spirit of what Mark Pilgrim intended, at best make corrections, not change the way Mark wanted this resource to be read.

Mark abandoned ship. What he wants is just speculation. He deleted the original resource so take from that what you will.

@jonathantneal

Have you visited http://diveintohtml5.info/ ?

A new note about this project. While Mark Pilgrim has ceased updating Dive Into HTML5, we wish for it to continue to grow. We're not just patching old links and updating APIs. We are actively maintaining it; refreshing, updating, and reflecting the relevant and current state of HTML5, just as it had been during Mark's tenure. We attribute this work in the manner specified by Mark, we've purchased a similar domain, and we make modifications to the site's content. We do not in any way suggest that he endorses us or our use of his work. We hope you do.

Thanks for clarifying. Since this is your fork I think you should manage it how you see fit. I personally don't care for the foul language and can see how removing it could help expand the material's reach to more people sooo a big +1.

Bateman approves

Jack Lawson

This discussion should be about maintaining the character of the book. Would it expand the materials to reach more devs? Or would sanitizing content turn it into just another dry textbook? Who's qualified to answer that? If nobody, should it even change at all?

@jonathantneal My comment was simply to explain the "emotional reaction", not to justify it. My opinion is, simply, that there should have been more discussion, regardless of my feelings about the content itself.

John-David Dalton

@ajacksified

@jdalton This discussion isn't about what Mark wants, it's about maintaining the character of the book. Would it expand the materials to reach more devs? Or would sanitizing content turn it into just another dry textbook?

I was replying to @nimbupani and her comment, I thought I made that pretty clear. I guess not.

Paul Irish
Collaborator

Since this is your fork ...

Back in jonathantneal/diveintohtml5#8 we merged jon's github repo (which was powering the .info domain) with this one.

Thsi is now the canonical repo, and Kenneth, Jon and I are the owners of it. We're also actively trying to get the mislav and html5doctor mirrors of the content to use this repo.

So.. the question as to who's fork this is is a muddy one.

Jack Lawson

@jdalton Indeed, updated to reflect. :thumbsup:

Les Orchard

Despite what http://diveintohtml5.info says, here's the confusing thing from a github perspective:

"(Mirror of Mark Pilgrim's GitHub)"

It's even got his picture on it. So, my impression is that this is a historical snapshot of Mark Pilgrim's old stuff, not a living project. To see someone edit stuff under his name feels squicky. That means it's no longer a mirror.

If you want a living project, fork it and work from there and be clear about the goals.

John-David Dalton

@paulirish

Back in jonathantneal/diveintohtml5#8 we merged jon's github repo (which was powering the .info domain) with this one.

Thsi is now the canonical repo, and Kenneth, Jon and I are the owners of it. We're also actively trying to get the mislav and html5doctor mirrors of the content to use this repo.

So.. the question as to who's fork this is is a muddy one.

Ah ok. Let the battle rage on – peace out

Peace out

Jonathan Neal
Collaborator

@lmorchard that is what we did. I moved my efforts to this repo to help make it canonical. Paul, Kenneth and I run it. Reverts happen. Reverts of reverts happen, but should happen less. I'm sure we can figure it out.

Jonathan Neal
Collaborator

Well, by we, I mean Kenneth and Paul. I have been removed as a contributor.

Kenneth Reitz
Owner

@jonathantneal I'll be happy to add you back if you agree to not revert the commit again until this us discussed more. This is not a minor change.

Paul Irish
Collaborator

Totaling up the sentiment here and the various commit comments, there is a pretty significant feeling the Mark's original language should be retained.

I think the onus is on @GeorgeLangley and @jonathantneal to make a case that changing the character of the document is worth it. I've seen reference to it expanding the reach of this content, but haven't seen any justification as to how. Until that case is made and agreed on, Mark's original language should remain.

Matthew Hooker

just fork it?

Beau

Keep it in. Don't change it. It's not the same without it.

Kiril Savino
kiril commented March 22, 2012

Totally agree that the language should be retained.

Adam Hyland

Foul language is an important part of the resource.

Beyond that, when we expunge the language from Dive Into HTML5 we will have completed its transition from breezy and interesting introduction to bloodless committee managed resource that no one bothers to read.

Alternately, just fork it and make an expurgated version.

Zev Goldberg
zrg commented March 22, 2012

The fucking language and tone is the fucking point. That's why I like this one. Simple, no bullshit tone.

Jonathan Neal
Collaborator

@paulirish

This is an educational resource, and removing the profanity from this resource will further its ability to educate.

Removing vulgarity means it will be used in presentations and textbooks that currently do not allow vulgarity for the reasons mentioned in my original comment.

Profanity ... has a strong, emotional, often discomforting and absolutely measurable psychological impact on people.

Anything unnecessarily negative or profane should be modified so that the resource may be used by all people and all cultures and societies.

If you must, I will collect resources online that show how cussing is dealt with in public and private schools.

Is it not common sense to understand that cussing is not the root flavor of his text?

Chris Drackett

keep it in for sure. fork it if you want to edit it

Brandon Rhodes

Fork, clean up the language, and release on "dipintohtml5" — the domain is available on both ".org" and ".info".

Consider the school-safe, expurgated version to be the first of many translations — all of which leave the original alone, while mapping it into different dialects and languages. It will work. I always watch the SFW version of the brilliant 7-part Phantom Menace movie review on YouTube, but that's my choice; the original does not need to be changed to suit my tastes.

Alex Sexton

What about a button at the top of any page that allows you to make these changes yourself? Opt-in to the no-foul-language-version.

"Would you like us to remove the use of profanity in this page? "

Steve Hoeksema

I've no problem with someone maintaining a censored fork, but toning down someone else's original work to make it more palatable to a wider audience seems like an anathema.

Wayne Witzel III

Keep the original, fork an academic version.

Daniel R. C. Filho

@SlexAxton I just suggested that on the IRC. A branch without "foul language" and an option on the website.

+1 on that :)

Donald Stufft

I don't particularly care if the resource curses or not, but I think that both the change and the original should be argued for on their own merits. What Mark Pilgrim would or wouldn't want shouldn't matter anymore.

David Bradbury

I like the idea of forking an academic version, and would be glad to help with it. That said, I think this is also a good time to possibly define long term goals (or if there is already such a document, review them and see how this may affect or reflect those goals).

Max Fenton

"the original does not need to be changed to suit my tastes."

Jake Archibald

Hmm, people might not take to the idea of forking because it "sounds a bit rude" :trollface:

Jonathan Neal
Collaborator

A couple of questions for my friends @paulirish and @kennethreitz

Did I fork this work when I started this project? Did I explicitly write my intentions in the second paragraph of the website?

I have previously mentioned that I will not get into a revert war. I explained my decisions, what I thought I did right and wrong, and I asked you guys to talk about it. I've received a blast of emails, tweets, and private messages from people very upset with me, but I'd like to talk to you guys about it. Paul, you're on IRC. Let's talk. Kenneth, we have messaging on GitHub if you don't want to get on chat or IRC. Let's talk.

George Hickman

-1.

It seems trivial to maintain a "clean" version if that's what people would like to do while keeping this version in the spirit of Mark and making it the canonical document.

My two cents on changing this document too far would be to look at it in comparison to another well known document of similar ilk, Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby. Given that _why left behind the Ruby community but his works remained this seems like a fitting document to compare with. It's a guide filled with all sorts of kooky images and dialogue that has a distinctive style and has been an entry into Ruby for many programmers. Ask yourself this: if someone wanted to remove the images or kooky dialogue from that document would it change the original tone? Would it change the fundamental nature of the document?

This entire thread seems based on people's different opinions towards certain words and destined to end up with a "clean" fork either way. @jonathantneal, @GeorgeLangley why not spearhead the community that wishes to maintain the clean fork?

Armin Ronacher

Just don't get offended. Is it that hard?

Stuart Robson

I'm finding it bizarre that anyone thought to edit the 'naughty words' out of it when their time could have been spent building something more helpful. Keep the rude and lewd's in please.

Misha Reyzlin

Make your own website about HTML5 and don't use “foul” language there. I love “foul” language. That's emotional. That adds color and taste to the read.

It's either maintained copy of author's work or it's not. If it's not, then don't do it under Mark's name, credit him and that's it.

Zach Leatherman

This should be handled by individual user agents.
See https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/cgncneknljcfojiedmehojdlenlajkbh

Rein Henrichs
reinh commented March 22, 2012

If we're going to edit out the profanity, we should replace occurrences with edited-for-TV versions to highlight just how ludicrous this sort of censorship / executive meddling is. Perhaps something like:

I apprehended the accused and advised him of his rights. He replied, 'Why don't you ram it up your pimhole, you fusking clothprunker.'

— A Bit of Fry and Laurie

Greg V

How the fuck just using words like “fuck” can be offensive?! They're not used in relation to any person here. How something that's not about people can be fucking offensive?

@jonathantneal, write your own fucking book if you don't like this.

Brian Curtin

This is real?

Michael Buffington

Belgium.

Mark Turner

@elbowdonkey Belgium sucks.

Rein Henrichs
reinh commented March 22, 2012

As always, The Big Lebowski says it best:

This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps.

— Walter Sobchak

Jay Phelps

@reinh This is what happens when you feed a stoner scrambled eggs!

Jason Dixon

Censorship is alive and well.

Ryan

Words like "shit" are only offensive if they were directed towards at another person or thing in a derogatory way. I find needless censorship offensive, and I wouldn't want to enable it.

Jonathan Neal
Collaborator

@obfuscurity If I wanted little kids to read Dive Into HTML5 I would have removed the long words.

When we fork any project, a bit of our personalty goes into that fork, sometimes beyond typos, sometimes beyond data. I put my personality into this project. In this particular instance, I wanted the words to be sweeter, less negative, and more accessible to educators.

I made the change. Kenneth reverted my change. I reverted Kenneth's change. We both reverted each other's changes because we thought the other person had made a commit too soon. Whoops. We're human. We should have talked about it. We've never had an issue like this before.

We're not mad at each other. Kenneth was concerned I might revert again, and rightly so (I did once, after all)! I hope we can handle it together.

Now ... this censorship thing (as if I were trampling on the civil rights of the people commenting here) is getting blown way out of proportion. This is a manual with a lot of personality in it, not just foul language - 0.045%. I removed one aspect of that personality in place of my own, and for that I think I am getting a harsh judgement.

People vote their conscience, leaders make decisions, and I did both.

Tim Caswell

I know personally that having curse words in a technical resource makes it very distracting for me. Just as distracting as trying to talk to a female coder while she's wearing skimpy clothing.

It's possible to convey strong emotions and explain topics without resorting to such tactics, it just takes more skill and knowledge of the language. Don't censor the document, improve it! Make it both interesting and vibrant while using English "The Good Parts".

Paul Irish
Collaborator

And because we don't need to take this thread from curse words to sexism & tech...

I think it's about time we call this issue closed. :)

Paul Irish paulirish closed this March 22, 2012
OJ Reeves
OJ commented March 22, 2012

This kind of moderation is pathetic. People have gone mad with political correctness. Leave it the way it was. If others want to strip the profanity, let them do it and maintain it in their own fork.

If I were the author of this I'd consider this a bit of an insult.

Aaron Delani

+1

The document stands without the curse/possibly offensive words. I've read the document before and found myself laughing and losing some concentration on the subject, needless to say, I was somewhat befuddled.

I think Mark's writing style is interesting enough and doesn't require the omitted words to be successful in teaching the subject.

This is an improvement, for general public use.

Jack Lawson

Let's not blow this thing out of proportion. It isn't censorship, it isn't anything other than some people think swearing adds character in a negative fashion, some people think it adds character in a positive fashion, and decisions on both sides were made too quickly.

We're beating a dead horse. Loud majority is loud. @jonathantneal isn't a bad guy here. @kennethreitz reverted the change, and the issue is closed.

:heart:

mindcrash

A Dive into book not written in the spirit of Mark Pilgrim is not a Dive Into book anymore, but a work on it's own. Want to write a toned down version? Please do, but do it by forking the original uncensored version; you are basically doing this anyway.

I for one think that rewriting Dive into HTML5 just to tone down the language would be just as damaging as removing any of _why's original material in the now forked Poignant guide to Ruby for whatever reason.

However for the people who are easily offended I guess it won't be much of a problem if a censored fork of the book would be published in a way Alex suggested earlier.

Daniel Dvorkin

Is this discussion really happening?

Johan Bouveng

@paulirish Here in the Philippines, words like "fuck" and "shit" are extremely offensive and will if used repeatedly towards a Filipino, get you stabbed or shot. Fork off.

George Langley
Jonathan Neal
Collaborator

@GeorgeLangley, you do us a service, and a bunch of trolls ruin a decent discussion. @kennethreitz called for the discussion to continue, but we may need to take it off this thread.

I listened to the trolls, every one of them. They don't matter anymore. This is for the few that matter.

We don't need to consider comments like "'with contributions from the community' does not mean you get to choose his words". I wrote those words! In fact, I have been editing the human words of Mark Pilgrim's book for some time. Trolls didn't care because I didn't stomp on their cause-of-the-week until now. Mike Taylor has been hosting an unedited version of Dive Into HTML5 for some time. He was also the first major voice bringing attention to this change on Twitter. People can get this information from where they want - we don't make money off this. We do this because we care about sharing information and serving the community.

We don't need to consider posts like "fork this if you want a version without profanity". My first thought is "Good news everyone, I have a fork, and this is it." I merged my updated repo back into Kenneth's because collaboration rocks, and we change the text all of the time. One of the biggest contributors as of late is a fellow by the name of Masataka Yakura, who worked with O'Reilly Japan to publish the Japanese version of the printed book.

We can ignore remarks containing "Mark would have" or "Mark wouldn't have". We all know that Mark would have deleted this repo - or wait - he DID delete this repo! We restored this repo. We restored the website. Since we're talking about this man like he were dead and we should follow his echoing foot steps, consider that he DID remove the profanity in his own book, the very same book that our biggest contributor as of late has been working on. Mark removed it so that his book could reach a wider audience. Those commits I made he made once too.

http://shop.oreilly.com/product/9780596806033.do

In a living document, our knowledge and opinions and flavor and beliefs and direction make their way in, as they did when the text was originally written. That's what is cool about open source stuff.

Ben O'Steen

I can understand why you might want to create a expurgated version of the text, but please create it as a version separate from the master branch - a 'figleafed' branch perhaps.

It should be clear from those you call trolls that people have an attachment to the tone of the work as it stands. Create a version that is 'clean' in your opinion, and allow the community to compare the two.

However, you should rewrite the sentences and paragraphs these 'offensive' words appear in and not just remove or replace them. To do so, without examining the tone they conveyed, would make the text feel like there is something missing, something unsaid. This is implicit and something you can pick up by reading through the work as a whole and in context. (It is also painfully obvious in works that have been bowdlerised in the past.)

In summary, please do create a kids-friendly, cuss-free version, but don't just use regex - rewrite the whole work with your new audience in mind.

Nate Cavanaugh

I think the fact of the matter is, people who feel the words should be kept are not chafing at the fact that it's swapping out one word for another, but rather they feel as if their idea of "personality" or "flavor" is being censored.

But I think they're forgoing the pragmatic consideration of wider use because of a principaled reaction to the reasoning.

But for those people, if language is such an easy thing to get over, why don't they "just get over it"?

Jonathan Neal
Collaborator

Most of the instances of profanity were completely detached from the flow of the document (I'd say all but one word). They were lazy. They did not offer much spice. As is such with most profanity. So what good does it do to keep something bad? It allows some to boast in their profanity. This is a cause to them, because of the way they act. I appealed to them anyway, and some of us offered resources and measurements of the psychological, social, and professional impact, and any other quantifiable impact by removing this profanity. It does nothing to satisfy the ones who think that less-than-a-percent of words, with little attachment to the whole, make up the whole of words.

zxv
zxv commented March 23, 2012

Premature optimization is generally railed upon in technical matters. But why not here?

What problem is being solved? Is there even a problem? Has anyone encountered any specific instance of having someone denounce the entire work on the basis of something occupying (using your own numbers) a half of a tenth of a percent of the text?

I suggest that it is highly unlikely that any person would be dissuaded from pursuing the entire text as a result of such editorial trivia. The text is valuable for it's presentation of the technical matters, and I don't think that value is diminished by something so small.

Furthermore, the document's writing is expressive, and these instances are communicating palpable frustration towards the issues involved. To remove these expressions would be a disservice to the reader, as the meaning behind the expressions is compromised.

I am absolutely certain that @jonathantneal's intentions were good, but I feel that overall, this is a removal of a feature rather than fixing a bug. I will be glad to stand corrected if anyone can find a counter-example of the type I describe above.

P.S. One last point I'd like to make is that since the occurrence of these words is so small, the argument for expressiveness stands. If they were more frequent, the reader would be desensitized to them (which would would also compromise the expressiveness of the meaning being communicated).

Jonathan Neal
Collaborator

That's feedback I can appreciate. Thank you. It is much nicer than many of the other sentiments.

Quick answers: 1. We are discussing everything here, everything was railed here, and it became a bit of a blood bath. 2. The problem is that we are limiting distribution due to profanity, and we are being unnecessarily negative in the text. 3. The problem is evidenced by this ticket being filed, the problem is real and concerns many on both sides as evidenced by the responses (both good and bad), and we can turn to profanity laws in many countries. 4. The proof is, again, in the ticket description itself, although we may (again) reference our own censorship laws (both the good and the bad), social customs, and references to Mark Pilgrim's "HTML5: Up & Running". There's also the issue that I don't like it, and it's a few bits of a few sentences.

This is an expressive, educational work, and if this profanity is so minute, the argument for expressiveness does not stand so well, because it's clearly not a major noticeable trait. No one noticed when I did things like this before, because it went under their radar, and they didn't miss it when they came back. This manual isn't for people who can't read documentation or enjoy expression without profanity. Anyone can and is welcome to fork this projet and make their own decisions based on their own beliefs, though it is strange they would not expect the same of me. As contributing authors to this new work, our tense and character and beliefs make their way in, including the opinions that differ from Mark's. The first thing I changed was the title of the work, as well as doubling the text on the home page to explain that I would be changing the work. That text, my own text, was used against me; someone drew a comparison that I should begin feeling somewhat like George Lucas.

The reason many people (not all against this) are upset is because they love to be profane, and they choose to despise those that disagree with them, and they felt it was necessary to troll this ticket and harass me outside of these comments. If Mark chooses to bring back diveintohtml5.org and use profanity, add profanity, or remove profanity, I can not and would not stop him because it is his to do as he pleases.

I recall when Necolas forked a project of mine, normalize.css, because (as he told me later) I wasn't taking in his changes, and he removed my css expressions (ironic, they are also called expressions). His branch became the defacto branch because it was better! You'll find me in half the blame file, but Necolas deserves to the credit for being the defacto repo because he evolved it into the next thing, which turned out to be way better. That's what I'm trying to do here.

Nicole Sullivan

I think that removing the profanity would limit distribution in another way. To use your original example @jonathantneal:

"to prevent people from just making shit up"

The original writing is funny and engaging if perhaps a bit irreverent.

Your proposed replacement, though technically accurate, lacks personality and is somewhat dry:

"to prevent people from just making their own rel values"

There are lots of technical books that adopt text-book style writing. Let this be a bit different. I think that as much as possible the style going forward should match the original so it feels like it is all written in the same voice. I think that more people will be (quietly) put off by it being boring than by it containing a few swear words.

Adam Hyland

We can ignore remarks containing "Mark would have" or "Mark wouldn't have". We all know that Mark would have deleted this repo - or wait - he DID delete this repo! We restored this repo.

I'm not entirely convinced by this argument. Or rather, I think it elides the larger issue which is less favorable to the argument of removing profanity. I'll certainly agree that Mark disclaimed all notional control when he deleted the repo and that whoever reconstituted it should be able to fashion the resource as they see fit. However when people say "this isn't what Mark would've wanted" they aren't just invoking argumentum ad Pilgrimum. They are attempting to point to the flavor and verve of the original text as a positive quality. Removing the expletives to serve a larger audience has benefits but we should recognize that doing so dilutes this original quality. We move from a resource which is managed by geeks for geeks to something which is more palatable to a wider array of people and by definition less focused, interesting and alive.

In a sense this may be unavoidable. The resource has passed from a single contributor to a group and it's audience has expanded from a core set of geeks to a broader array of people who might object to certain phrases. In which case removing the explitives is a symptom that we have given up on that original idea and allowed it to be managed by committee.

Tim Caswell

...doing so dilutes this original quality. We move from a resource which is managed by geeks for geeks to something which is more palatable to a wider array of people and by definition less focused, interesting and alive.

I'm sorry, but assuming that all geeks prefer expletives in their reading is simply false. It's also false to assume that that is the only way to make text "interesting" and "alive". This isn't a binary switch between vulgar-and-interersting and plain-and-boring.

...given up on that original idea and allowed it to be managed by committee.

No it's not managed by a committee, it's managed by new maintainers who have a different on the world. "This manual isn't for people who can't read documentation or enjoy expression without profanity" - @jonathantneal

I'm sure there is a fork somewhere with the original text for people who must have profanity to enjoy their reading.

Adam Hyland

I'm sorry, but assuming that all geeks prefer expletives in their reading is simply false. It's also false to assume that that is the only way to make text "interesting" and "alive". This isn't a binary switch between vulgar-and-interersting and plain-and-boring.

I'm not making that assumption. I'm simply suggesting that the profanity came from someplace important to the piece and the original author. And eliminating it both removes the offensive words and takes the work away from that place. It's unavoidable. And it strikes me as unrealistic to describe removing profanity as an unambiguous improvement along all dimensions.

David Bradbury

Personally, for me, it has nothing to do with enjoying profanity or not. When maintaining and adding to someone else's work, I think it is important to maintain consistency with the original style of the work. If this work had no profanity, and someone wanted to add some profanity to make it 'more enjoyable' to read, I'd be against that too.

Here is my recommendation:

  1. Keep the style and formatting of the original.
  2. Establish long-term goals of this project (This would prevent squabbles like this from happening in the first place)
  3. If you wish to change the style or formatting of this project, fork it. It is borderline asinine to expect us to fork the original version so that others can use this page for their new project.
Ger Hobbelt GerHobbelt referenced this issue from a commit in GerHobbelt/diveintohtml5-original-sensibilities May 06, 2012
Ger Hobbelt Merge remote-tracking branch 'remotes/ger-pellitikally-kerrekt/jonath…
…antneal-master' - making sure 'issue #20' is kept the way it was way back when, i.e. no PC, ah, 'dung' made it into this merge. :-)  (dung?! ... naw. Use 'faeces'. 99.9% of them PC'ers don't realize what that implies. And otherwise there's always Mah Favorite: 'coprolites'. Wait until you get to meet an archeologist - makes you wonder why your mom didn't allow you as a kid to play with it; now it happens to be a highly regarded accredited profession, all of a sudden. Hot dang!)
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