Open Source Communication Tricks or How to Avoid Flame Wars
The most notable fact about internet communication is that it's usually offline.
The key to have a successful offline communication is to avoid emotions; this is almost easy to do, most of the times, following some simple classic rules.
Tricks and Traps
Simple and effective they are, aren't they?
1. Read thoroughly
If you're willing to add your idea to a discussion or comment on someone's post, you first have to understand them. So before even hitting the "reply" button, read the post completely and thoroughly. You will be surprised by the quality of your posts/comments afterwards!
Thanks Michael Richter for brining this point up.
2. No CAPS!
Avoid writing words in all capital letters at all --it rises too much emotions about your message. If you need to place emphasis on a word or phrase it's much better to use _ (underscore) or * (asterisk) characters instead.
|This bug CANNOT be fixed.||This bug _cannot_ be fixed
This bug *cannot* be fixed.
3. I'm talking for myself!
When criticising someone else's work, it's better to use phrases like
in my (humble) opinion or
I think to show the reader that it's purely your idea. Although we all know that when someone is writing a post/email, she's just expressing her own thoughts (unless mentioned explicitly), we tend to forget this point --specially when reading some idea against our work. Consequently we begin to think the whole world is against us and switch to defensive mode unconsciously.
|The new file you just added does not address issue X. You have to remove/edit it.||IMO, the new file you just added does not address issue X. I'd suggest you remove/edit it.|
4. Just the right jargon
Talk directly and frankly in technical terms. Avoid using non-technical terms or words which rise emotions. Emotions are difficult to comprehend, even when you're talking to someone face to face still less through offline messages; thus, believe me or not, most of the times your emotions are comprehended falsely. You better forget about them and stick to clear technical terms.
|Your code is garbage!||As far as I understand (AFAIU) your code has 2 major flaws which can be exploited ...|
5. Trying to piss me off? Dream on!
In case you find a post/email insulting or offensive, your best first choice is to ignore it. Trust me! An offensive post loses weight and offender feels pissed off, if she feels that her post doesn't attract attention. If it happens again, you may ask a moderator to warn her or shoot her off the list/forum.
6. Why the!!!!???
Don't use multiple punctuations in your posts; what good would they do while a single punctuation works? Again it rises emotions, so you better avoid it.
|I'm stuck at this bug!!! How to fix it??!!||I'm stuck at this bug. How to fix it?|
Using forums or mailing lists requires keeping a few rules in mind which are actually very easy to follow and not only increase your (and others') chance of a productive collaboration, but it also lets you express your ideas and comments in a more efficient and unambiguous way.