[openstack-dev] Constructive Conversations
adrian.otto at rackspace.com
Mon Mar 17 19:00:23 UTC 2014
I think that a set of community values for OpenStack would be a terrific asset. I refer to values constantly as a way to align my efforts with the needs of my company. I'd love to have the same tools for my contributions to community efforts as well.
On Mar 7, 2014, at 11:56 AM, Kurt Griffiths <kurt.griffiths at rackspace.com<mailto:kurt.griffiths at rackspace.com>> wrote:
I’m sure that I’m not the first person to bring this up, but I’d like to get everyone’s thoughts on what concrete actions we, as a community, can take to improve the status quo.
There have been a variety of instances where community members have expressed their ideas and concerns via email or at a summit, or simply submitted a patch that perhaps challenges someone’s opinion of The Right Way to Do It, and responses to that person have been far less constructive than they could have been. In an open community, I don’t expect every person who comments on a ML post or a patch to be congenial, but I do expect community leaders to lead by example when it comes to creating an environment where every person’s voice is valued and respected.
What if every time someone shared an idea, they could do so without fear of backlash and bullying? What if people could raise their concerns without being summarily dismissed? What if “seeking first to understand” were a core value in our culture? It would not only accelerate our pace of innovation, but also help us better understand the needs of our cloud users, helping ensure we aren’t just building OpenStack in the right way, but also building the right OpenStack.
We need open minds to build an open cloud.
Many times, we do have wonderful, constructive discussions, but the times we don’t cause wounds in the community that take a long time to heal. Psychologists tell us that it takes a lot of good experiences to make up for one bad one. I will be the first to admit I’m not perfect. Communication is hard. But I’m convinced we can do better. We must do better.
How can we build on what is already working, and make the bad experiences as rare as possible?
A few ideas to seed the discussion:
* Identify a set of core values that the community already embraces for the most part, and put them down “on paper.” Leaders can keep these values fresh in everyone’s minds by (1) leading by example, and (2) referring to them regularly in conversations and talks.
* PTLs can add mentoring skills and a mindset of "seeking first to understand” to their list of criteria for evaluating proposals to add a community member to a core team.
* Get people together in person, early and often. Mid-cycle meetups and mini-summits provide much higher-resolution communication channels than email and IRC, and are great ways to clear up misunderstandings, build relationships of trust, and generally get everyone pulling in the same direction.
What else can we do?
 There are plenty of examples, going back years. Anyone who has been in the community very long will be able to recall some to mind. Recent ones I thought of include Barbican’s initial request for incubation on the ML, dismissive and disrespectful exchanges in some of the design sessions in Hong Kong (bordering on personal attacks), and the occasional “WTF?! This is the dumbest idea ever!” patch comment.
 We already have a code of conduct<https://www.openstack.org/legal/community-code-of-conduct/> but I think a list of core values would be easier to remember and allude to in day-to-day discussions. I’m trying to think of ways to make this idea practical. We need to stand up for our values, not just say we have them.
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