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Social skills for geeks


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  • 1. Social Skills for GeeksLydia openSUSE conf 2011
  • 2. Who am I and why am I here?
  • 3. Goals● How to ensure more and good quality contributions● How to not scare contributors away● Highlight typical situations and ways of handling them Feel free to jump in!
  • 4. Topic overview● Handling contributions● Coping with the negative● Ways of working● Allowing others to grow
  • 5. Handling Contributions – constructive comments● Comments should be useful ● To the point ● Provide enough information and reasoning behind the remarks● Positive comments are also welcome ;-)
  • 6. Handling Contributions – Accepting and rejecting● Accept with encouragement● Make rejection not about the person but about the code● Always explain why● Make concrete suggestions for improvements and next steps
  • 7. Coping with the negative – Angry e-mails/posts● Try to understand: Why is he/she angry?● Consider who will read your reply● Hostile vs. almost hostile● Cool down before you reply● Ask a 3rd person (community manager)● Not being listened to
  • 8. Ways of working – Response time What do you think is acceptable?
  • 9. Ways of working – E-mail, IRC, forums, wikis● Assume your audience suffers from tl;dr● Document the outcome of IRC discussions to avoid constant repetition of the same discussion ● In an email to the right list ● In a public wiki
  • 10. Ways of working – How many should be involved?● Splitting up into smaller groups ● Dont cut off a sub-group in terms of processes, contributors, news and so on ● Keep the amount of mailinglists/forums/wikis/IRC channels/... sane● Avoid silos that develop their own negative spiral – jump in when you see them developing
  • 11. Ways of working – Trying to convince others● Anticipate objections beforehand● List the pros and cons● Dont try to convince for the sake of convincing
  • 12. Allowing others to grow – Taking care of newbies● Patience!● Newbies might ask “stupid” questions at the beginning – that does not have to be an indication of their abilities● Try to help find a suitable task for newcomers● Teach and document when new questions arise
  • 13. Allowing others to grow – The benefits of sharing knowledge● Bus-Factor ● Is there someone who could do your job reasonably well if you went awol? How about others around you? ● Document the processes● Sharing knowledge can be to your benefit too ● Improve your skills ● Allows you to move on when/if you want to
  • 14. Questions?!Lydia