Assholes are Killing your Project (Monktoberfest)

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The strength of your community is the best predictor of your project's long-term viability. What happens when that community is gradually infiltrated by assholes, who infect everyone else with their constant negativity and personal attacks? Although someone may be a valuable technical contributor, that person will never contribute as much to the project as the many others who are scared away and demotivated.

This talk will teach you about the dramatic impact assholes are having on your organization today and will show you how you can begin to repair it.

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  • Intro Gentoo Social in tech You need to differentiate between personal attacks and technical criticisms.
  • Community is critical Best predictor of long-term viability How do you attract new contributors and users? Your brand. Function of your ability to create results. Key point: Ability to accomplish your mission
  • Good to Great Continual improvement – greatness is a process Metrics Are a few assholes balanced by a few amazing people? – come back to this later
  • Intent to harm not required Difference between how a person treats the powerless and the powerful is a great judge of character
  • Pattern! States vs traits. Consistency across places and times Everyone has a bad day sometimes. For assholes, every day is a bad day. Tolerance builds up over time. You don't realize who's an asshole.
  • Are a few assholes balanced by a few amazing people? Negative interactions 5x worse than positive
  • Are a few assholes balanced by a few amazing people? Negative interactions 5x worse than positive
  • Are a few assholes balanced by a few amazing people? Negative interactions 5x worse than positive
  • Are a few assholes balanced by a few amazing people? Negative interactions 5x worse than positive
  • Are a few assholes balanced by a few amazing people? Negative interactions 5x worse than positive 5 good for 1 bad. Your team needs 5/6 positive people just to break even!
  • Male targets: reciprocity Female targets: avoidance (Pearson & Porath) – pic: fight vs flight Targets hold leaders at fault Role models
  • By tolerating assholes, you alienate women Male targets: reciprocity Female targets: avoidance (Pearson & Porath) – pic: fight vs flight Targets hold leaders at fault Role models
  • Word of mouth transforms one asshole into an avalanche
  • External cooperation & recruitment: based on reputation, caused by word of mouth Recruitment is different in FLOSS from biz; everyone has the power
  • Refusal to confront reality Dreadful stats - 50% of targets considered quitting, 12% of targets quit. One asshole, multiple targets. Reputation: word of mouth. Cascade
  • Social and technical ability are orthogonal. One never balances out the other. A good coder has one; a good developer has both.
  • Personal interactions Modeling Reporting: encourage; have a place; respond; rapid feedback Is it your job to change them?
  • Personal interactions—have a conference Modeling
  • People need somewhere to complain and a sense that action will happen— rapid feedback Reporting: encourage; have a place; respond; rapid feedback
  • Are you here to fix people or accomplish your goals? At some point, it's time to cut off the detour. Is it your job to change them?
  • Culture is like molasses, not like code. Problem of change in diffuse organizations: persuasion, shared interests, reputation
  • Show that social aspects have metrics, too. Developers believe numbers.
  • Is “good” really good enough? You are a SWAT team, you need great! Recruitment standards – is “good” good enough?
  • Nobody knows your culture when they start. Do you want them to learn it from an asshole? Provide a code of conduct. Clear expectations set a baseline: code of conduct
  • Get rid of them, and later you'll wonder why it took you so long to act.
  • Assholes are Killing your Project (Monktoberfest)

    1. 1. Assholes are Killing your Project
    2. 2. Assholes are Stealing your Beer
    3. 3. Reputation Results Contributors The Community Circle
    4. 4. Your ability to get results depends on your community .
    5. 5. What makes a great community? Assholes The best Most of us
    6. 6. Is this even a problem? Ohloh Ubuntu launches Proto-assholes start receiving complaints Assholes removed
    7. 7. What isn't an asshole? Conflict is good
    8. 8. What is an asshole? Two tests <ul><li>After talking to the asshole, does the target feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled?
    9. 9. Does the asshole target those less powerful? </li></ul>
    10. 10. What is an asshole? Look for patterns
    11. 11. How many good interactions does it take to cancel out one bad one? Sutton
    12. 12. Sutton
    13. 13. Sutton
    14. 14. Sutton
    15. 15. Sutton
    16. 16. Fight Flickr: undergroundbastard Men tend to Pearson & Porath
    17. 17. Flight Flickr: noeluap Women tend toward Pearson & Porath
    18. 18. Problems assholes cause to targets <ul><li>48% decreased their effort
    19. 19. 47% worked less time
    20. 20. 38% dropped their quality
    21. 21. 66% declined in performance
    22. 22. 80% lost time worrying
    23. 23. 63% lost time avoiding
    24. 24. 78% became less committed
    25. 25. 25% quit; 20% of witnesses quit! </li></ul>Sutton
    26. 26. Cascading effects amplify the problem Flickr: wsdot
    27. 27. Problems assholes cause to projects <ul><li>Reduced innovation & creativity
    28. 28. Reduced cooperation & cohesion
    29. 29. Cost of targets' retribution toward project
    30. 30. Impaired cooperation from external projects & people
    31. 31. Impaired ability to attract the best & brightest
    32. 32. Recruiting more assholes </li></ul>Sutton
    33. 33. TCA: Total Cost of Asshole Team lead Developer relations team Project leadership Recruiting & training new developers Targets & witnesses __________________ Total Cost of Asshole + + + + Sutton
    34. 34. An asshole is incompetent Flickr: escapo
    35. 35. How do you fix it? Flickr: trp0
    36. 36. Flickr: kalandrakas
    37. 37. Flickr: hashir
    38. 38. Flickr: shannonmary
    39. 39. How do you prevent it? Flickr: redefyne
    40. 40. Flickr: koenvereeken Be quantitative
    41. 41. Flickr: soldiersmediacenter Keep your standards high
    42. 42. Flickr: mount_otz Provide expectations
    43. 43. Want to learn more? Read these
    44. 44. In the long run, dealing with assholes is never worth it.
    45. 45. Donnie Berkholz Council Member / Sr. Developer Gentoo Linux [email_address] Twitter/IRC: dberkholz

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