[maemo-developers] How to destroy your community

From: Jeremiah Foster jeremiah at jeremiahfoster.com
Date: Tue Jan 19 12:13:30 EET 2010
On Jan 19, 2010, at 10:13 AM, <tero.kojo at nokia.com> <tero.kojo at nokia.com> wrote:
>> Some gems:
>> 1) "It's also important to set up an official web site which is down as
>> often as it's up. It's not enough to have no web site at all; in such
>> situations, the community has an irritating habit of creating sites of
>> its own. But a flaky site can forestall the creation of those sites,
>> ensuring that information is hard to find. "

As maemo transitions to a much larger server farm, there have been hiccups. The site has been slow, but has recently gotten significantly faster, in certain parts. Tero is right though, you just haven't been here long enough to have a reliable sample of uptime vs. downtime with regards to maemo.org.

>> 3) "There should be no useful information about the code, build
>> methods, the patch submission process, the release process, or anything
>> else. Then, when people ask for help, tell them to RTFM."

I dismiss this out of hand. Yes there are places where things could be better documented, but there is a huge body of documentation out there, much of it well written and openly editable.

>> 4) "Project decisions should be made in closed-door meetings."
>> 5) "Employ large amounts of legalese."
>> 7) "Keep the decision-making powers unclear"

Unfortunately a bit of this is true. But this is part of maemo's dual nature, the half-closed, half-open beastie. To be honest, in a project like debian the entire infrastructure is open to debian developers so there is no closed-door, no cabal. Maemo could do better here.
>> 8) "Screw around with licensing. Community members tend to care a lot
>> about licenses, so changing the licensing can be a good way to make
>> them go elsewhere. Even better is to talk a lot about license changes
>> without actually changing anything;"

You'll have to point to some evidence for this to apply to maemo. The only license changes I have noted are those that go from closed to open, stuff from TI for example. (Thanks again keepsie!)
>> 10) "Silence. Don't answer queries, don't say anything. A company which
>> masters this technique may not need any of the others; it is the most
>> effective community destroyer of them all. "
> If you start a discussion in a tone of voice that is asking for a fight, we often disregard the discussion. We aren't here to pick fights, but to try and do something productive.
> You do get many things done, but your communication style isn't polite. I do understand that controversy can bring about change, but it can also polarize situations.

Ooops! No silence here! I guess that disproves point 10. :-) (http://jaaksi.blogspot.com/ <-- More non-silence.) 


As a post script I will add that the maemo community is one of the friendliest communities I have been involved with on the interwebs. Of course the two communities I regularly lurk in, debian and perl, are a bit notorious, but maemo is genuinely friendly.

There is plenty of room for criticism, just try to be polite so that the tenor and tone remain positive enough for people to get work done and not get distracted by pejorative attacks. 
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