[openstack-dev] Constructive Conversations

Stefano Maffulli stefano at openstack.org
Tue Mar 18 21:25:20 UTC 2014

Hello Kurt, all,

On 03/07/2014 01:56 PM, Kurt Griffiths wrote:
> 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[1]. 

I apologize if I have failed to identify personal attacks on places
(real and virtual) that the community management team at OpenStack

If you or any member of the community feels like they're being
mistreated please contact me or Tom immediately because we're here to help.

It's probably worth reminding that there are over 2,000 known
committers, over 400 active monthly, over 400 comments added *per hour*
on gerrit (even excluding the bots, that's a huge number of chances to
offend someone): we're way beyond the size where two people can monitor
everything. We need people to highlight trouble to us.

You should contact us because if we don't see what may be wrong
behaviour and we don't see the trends, we can't fix it.

> What if every time someone shared an idea, they could do so without fear
> of backlash and bullying? 

Bullying is a serious word and carries a precise meaning. Please contact
me offlist and share the exact details of the incidents you have in mind
so that we can investigate and decide how to address it.

> How can we build on what is already working, and make the bad
> experiences as rare as possible?

My impression is that in general we have open minds and OpenStack is
very welcoming to new ideas. Given the size of the community and its
growth rate, we have started initiatives to help newcomers understand
the values of OpenStack community and its way of doing things.

The first is a message that welcomes new contributors: since a couple of
days any developer who pushes up for review the first patch is greeted
with an email explaning what's going to happen, how to interact with
others, how to deal with negative votes... Tom wrote the script and
merged on our gerrit system https://review.openstack.org/#/c/80111/

The second initiative is a training program aimed to teach new
contributors how to collaborate and get features, patches, approved more
effectively. The first instance of this training in Atlanta sold out in
a few hours, meaning that there is huge demand for it. I'm thinking of
ways to scale it up.

All in all, I have the impression that the community has very solid
values, is for the most part welcoming and accepting challenges. I am
aware of few corner cases that are bad enough to request special
handling but I have no evidence to think this friction is widespread. I
may be wrong: please, you and anyone, help me understand the size of the
problems you're reporting.

Maybe we need to establish some form of 'advocate' role to help
arbitrate/negotiate the cases of friction? A place where people can
immediately report to if they feel mistreated? What do you think?

> 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.”[3] 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.

I think we have values written down on
https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/Open but the already cited growth rate
makes them hard to spread across the board. Upstream Training is meant
to address the growth problem and spread the knowledge of core values.

>   * 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.

are core team members not trying to understand now? What is preventing
them to be more mindful? How can we help them?

>   * 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.

I think among open source projects we probably have the most organized
set of user groups around the world. We have OpenStack Ambassadors
around the world
https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/Community/AmbassadorProgram... I think
we have a lot of chances already to meet in person and clear the air
from misunderstandings. How can we improve this wealth of tools we have?


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