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  • Hello you. I'm a 38-year old MSc student, studying Advanced Computer Science at Sussex University. I'm especially interested in Internet and mobile software, sensors and pervasive computing, user interfaces, and the process of developing great software.

    Before that I spent 11 years running Future Platforms, a software company I co-founded which makes lovely things for mobile phones, and which I sold in 2011.

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« Polarising mobile sales | Main | Swedish Beers at MWC »

February 08, 2009



I've been watching the drama on WMLProgramming off and on for a while. It's been sad to see that Luca, who by all accounts maintains one of the most useful open source mobile projects out there, can't have a totally reasonable debate without devolving to name-calling and banning people with different points of view.

Thanks for trying. Let us know if you find a community that acts more like a group of adult professionals.


I too was watching the drama unfold on WMLProgramming. I have great respect for Luca, his WURFL project and (till now) WMLProgramming and am one of the 100%-against-transcoders crowd.

Well I suppose that is a tad harsh on WMLProgramming as it really has been a nice resource for me, but Luca really needs to have a reality check. Banning you for your (constructive - from my P.O.V. anyway) comments really is way out of line, and seems like some kind of power trip. Even if - as he says - there was underhanded or condescending remarks made by you, I really don't think that is justification.

I'm going to register and start the campaign ;)


Trigger happy! I got banned quicker than I could unsubscribe myself ;-)

Fortunately, although there's a nice element of nostalgia to using the group, it's not the only show in town any more. Indeed it's now one of the smallest and least active (modulo the transcoding discussions).

C. Enrique Ortiz

Tom, no way.... I'm sorry to see this. Maybe I should pay more attention to the list. This is no good, and can backfire and undermine the whole effort by the dev community for which both you and Luca and others are leaders. I am here still appalled at this...


Luca Passani

Tom, I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that you were on a mission to create confusion on WMLprogramming and undermine the Manifesto initiative.

This was not only my impression, but also the one of others (see reference at the end of my comment).

As I wrote on WMLprogramming, in almonst 10 years, nobody was banned that was not a spammer or a no-strings-attached idiot. You are the first exception to this. The problem is that you were on a scientific mission to create confusion and had been warned to stop several times. Since it's my duty to keep a
3000 developer strong list running smoothly and provide value to everyone, I decided that this had to stop. And this decision came with some regret, because you were an old-timer. Yet, it was the right thing to do. I think that 10 years of service for the community buys me credits to do it and be believed that it was the right thing to do.

Of course, this does not change anything in the way WMLProgramming is managed: an independent forum where developers and practitioners can exchange frank advice and opinion in good faith (which you failed to do).

I'll refer to a posting by Jim McLachlan which perfectly expressed my feelings too:

"I just got my digest and yet again, I see Tom Hume posting his toxic time-wasting arguments. His arguments are a disturbing mix of weasel-words, slight-of-hand, manipulation and political double-talk.
His only purpose on this forum seems to be to muddy the waters and endlessly argue in order to waste everyone's time."

If my blame has been defending WMLprogramming against such abuses, then I am guilty as charged.


Luca Passani

James, this is the answer for you:


Tom Hume

I'm afraid I don't understand what "good faith" is, Luca, beyond either choosing not to debate with you, or pretending to agree with you in the long term. Both seem to render the purpose of a mailing list redundant.

There's also little point in our each showing off a tally of messages of support: I've had them, I'm sure you have, and we know that in the past you've moderated messages which requested I not be banned.

WMLProgramming is a good group of smart people. It's a shame that polite dissent isn't tolerable there, and that abusive language and insults are considered justifiable for a subset of the membership.

Chris Abbott

I understand where you're coming from Tom, but I guess it should be considered in the context of Luca taking extremely personally a situation where developers are forced into defensive measures to prevent their content being altered by parties unknown, and where a standards body seems to be seriously considering breaking a standard for the commercial gain of a few of the "old boys". When I'm watching an organisation blithly defend and even promote what I consider in my gut to be an unacceptable : well, then I get agitated and defensive too, regardless of whether it's in my best interests or not.

I still appreciate that Luca is willing to stick his head over the parapet, often to his own detriment and the somewhat smug ridicule of the old boys parade: I think the low key approach doesn't work anyway when you're merely an outsider.

So you've got a choice: be a pain, or be a gent (the problem faced by activists everywhere). And no one listens to small gents, really, since they're so polite. If Luca hadn't been... well, Luca, then the issue would have become a non-issue (and not in a good way) a long time ago.

I'm not sure it "undermines" the effort by the development community, because I don't think they've even made one outside of Luca's efforts.

My personal choice as a forum moderator is always against banning (except in cases of spamming or abuse), but I can understand why Luca felt the need, even if to an outside it would look trigger-happy.


Tom Hume

Chris: I don't disagree with you or Luca on the seriousness of the issue.

I think where we differ is in my willingness to work with the W3C group to ensure things get better, and in how appropriate it is to direct insults and abuse at those you disagree with. As I posted above, we deal with far more serious issues than this in our society without resorting to that sort of behaviour.

Are you suggesting that working with the W3C, or proposing a polite approach in addition to a vocal one, is legitimate grounds for removal from the list? Is the purpose of such communities not to allow members to discuss differing viewpoints - even (perhaps even particularly) diametrically opposed ones? How can we persuade transcoders and their operators to self-regulate without talking to them about it?

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