A Small Minority

In any mailing list discussion, it’s easy for a small minority to give the impression that there is a great deal of dissent, by flooding the list with numerous lengthy emails. It’s a bit like a filibuster, except that the illusion of widespread dissent is even more powerful, because it’s divided across an arbitrary number of discrete posts and most people won’t bother to keep track of who said what, when. They’ll just have an instinctive impression that the topic is very controversial, and wait for the fuss to die down.

The best way to counteract this effect is to point it out very clearly and provide supporting evidence showing how small the actual number of dissenters is, compared to those in agreement.

— Karl Fogel, Producing Open Source Software

Comments are closed.