Jerks are deprecated, be nice

I've been wanting to write about this topic and this seems like the right moment to do it. This post is not a follow-up of recent discussions in the KML, it is more about my personal experience and the fact that people are sick of jerks and the damage they cause to communities.

I'm one of those who doesn't give a shit of what people thinks about him, however I do care about how I treat people, how people treat me and most importantly how people behave in communities.

Open source was, is and will always be based on communities regardless there's a company behind it or not. It'll always depend on people from different places, cultures, companies, religions and races. It doesn't matter where people come from nor who they are, everybody has the right to be part of whatever community they want.

Different communities have different needs, each one of them is ruled by different standards and those standards are defined by the community itself.

That being said, lets get back to open source and jerks.

For a long time, being a jerk was what "cool guys" did, open source was making its way in this world, they were all doing really amazing things - many of those required "special knowledge" -, low level developments, blah blah blah. Although it was not necessary, core contributors of different projects thought that arrogance was the key to let people know they controlled that thing.

Jerks are deprecated, be nice

Nowadays, though, jerks are deprecated, that kind of attitude is not / shouldn't be acceptable anymore and jerks should go away. OSS and communities are the biggest and most important areas where people can learn, share and interact with others who share their interests. Jerks don't help with this and they push the smartest guys away over and over again.

There are no excuses for no being nice:

  • Being nice is free, no one is going to charge you for that.
  • Communities built by nice people are nice communities as well, with that it engages new people to contribute.
  • Being nice is widely accepted in every culture. There may be cultures and people that couldn't care less but, those cultures / people do care about arrogant people.
  • There are really smart folks out there willing to contribute and be part of many communities, arrogance will push them back.

Supporting your own project / community

Being nice to people willing to contribute to your project / community is just a sign of how much you care about what you're doing and what you're sharing.

There are many folks out there that will contribute regardless the presence of jerks, there are others, though, that will go away and that penalizes your project. In many cases, folks not willing to work with jerks, may end up forking projects and working on them on their own. This is, obviously, bad for your project but not only, it also affects open source in general. Remember, so much fragmentation damages open source, wastes efforts and improvements.

Making good to others

We've all had a "first-time" moment on everything we've done. As for contributing to open source, that first-time moment is yet to happen for many people. Don't be the one who pushes those folks away.

Encourage people to contribute, mentor them, teach them what they need and point them to the right direction. They will remember you, they'll thank you and most importantly, they will keep contributing.

Lets let our brains work together and stop being jerks, for the sake of open-source.

And if...

For those of you who will have to interact with jerks, let me share some experience:

  • Don't, for any reason, discourage yourself at any time
  • Define your limits and make sure you don't take more of what you're willing to.
  • Ignore their jerkish comments and focus on the discussion
  • Be nice, no matter what. There's no reason for not being nice.
  • Learn how to defend yourself and speak up.

Hi. I’m Flavio Percoco (a.k.a flaper87), and I’m a Software Engineer at Red Hat, where I spend my days working on OpenStack, speaking at conferences. In my spare time I contribute to Rust, write, read, surf, travel, smoke my coffee and drink my pipe.