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From Erik Weber <>
Subject Fwd: Advice for community participation to lower tension
Date Tue, 19 Apr 2016 22:14:51 GMT
This was recently sent to ComDev ( and I feel it
is worth sharing.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Niclas Hedhman <>
Date: Sat, Apr 9, 2016 at 3:50 AM
Subject: Advice for community participation to lower tension

recently there was some tension/friction in a community, and I posted the
following advice to everyone to better get along. Not only did the
community members responded positively, but I also got pinged privately to
make this available publicly, so here it is, and I will let the wider
community do with it what it sees fit...

First a few general guidelines;
  a. Assume that the other party agrees more than disagrees with you. We
tend to leave out agreements and focus on differences. Sometime this is
forgotten and escalation becomes absurd for no rational reason.

  b. When in doubt, assume that you are interpreting the message wrongly
and kindly ask for verification that you understood a particular topic well.

  c. When writing, assume that every sentence will be misinterpreted.
Review and try to reformulate to be as clear as possible.

  d. Use a submissive tone in all writing. Instead of the strong "In my
opinion, we must..." or the quite neutral "I think we should...", try to
use "Maybe we should consider..." or "Another idea that we could..."

   e. If you disagree strongly with an email sent, tag it Important, then
put it aside. Read it half a day later again. Put it aside. Read it again
next day, and then it is easier to write a balanced and inviting response,
instead of the initial vitriol that flows through us when we get upset. I
found that sometimes a response wouldn't be necessary, as the importance
was actually much lower than originally perceived, and I would be able to
work "with", instead of "against", a given change.

  f. Be forgiving and accept different priorities. The other person is not
out to get you or attack your work. More often than not, it is one of the
above (a-d) that are failing, or that the other person prioritize some
aspect higher than you do. Sometimes, this requires compromises, sometimes
not and the different priorities can co-exist.

Most communities at Apache consists of level-headed, reasonable people, who
have a strong vested interest in its Apache project. This interest, often
passion, is both the source of tension, but it is also what unites the
people within the community. It is easy to forget the vast amount of
agreement that exists, and get upset over relatively small disagreements.
Ability to put that aside, or downplay the importance, will ensure a
harmonious project.

Face-to-Face is excellent way to eliminate disagreements, but that is often
not practical. Consider Skype or Google Hangout, just for the social aspect
of being part of this community. It should not be formal, and the
invitation should go out to everyone, perhaps someone want to make a short
presentation of what he/she is doing, to have some "structure", but that
might not be needed either. Once we have a face to the words, and a general
idea how that person is socially, we are much more capable to interact by

Niclas Hedhman, Software Developer - New Energy for Java

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