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Assholes
are
killing
your
project
It's all about barriers to entry
Wikipedia: Smokefoot
Community is critical
Reputation
Contributors
Results
Your ability to get results
depends on your community.
What makes a great community?
Assholes The best
Most of us
Ubuntu launches
3 developers start
receiving complaints
Developers removed
Black Duck Open Hub
Lead maintainer inactiveMove to Git
Black Duck Open Hub
Same developer
forks projectCore developer
asked to resign
Black Duck Open Hub
What isn't an asshole?
Conflict is good
What is an asshole? A simple test
After talking to the asshole, does the target feel
oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled?
What is an asshole?
Look for
patterns
How many good
interactions does
it take to cancel
out one bad one?
Sutton
Sutton
Sutton
Sutton
Sutton
Fight
Flickr: undergroundbastard
Men tend to
Pearson & Porath
Flight
Flickr: noeluap
Women tend toward
Pearson & Porath
TCA: Total Cost of Asshole
Team lead
Developer relations team
Project leadership
Recruiting & training new developers
Targets & witnesses
__________________
Total Cost of Asshole
+
+
+
+
Sutton
Problems assholes cause to targets
● 48% decreased their effort
● 47% worked less time
● 38% dropped their quality
● 66% declined in performance
● 80% lost time worrying
● 63% lost time avoiding
● 78% became less committed
● 25% quit; 20% of witnesses quit!
Sutton
Cascading
effects
amplify
the problem
Flickr: wsdot
Problems assholes cause to projects
● Reduced innovation & creativity
● Reduced cooperation & cohesion
● Cost of targets' retribution toward project
● Impaired cooperation from external projects & people
● Impaired ability to attract
the best & brightest
● Recruiting more assholes
Sutton
An asshole is incompetent
Flickr: escapo
How do you fix it?
Flickr: trp0
Flickr: kalandrakas
Flickr: hashir
How do you prevent it?
Flickr: redefyne
Flickr: koenvereeken
Be quantitative
Flickr: mount_otz
Provide expectations
In the long run,
dealing with assholes
is never worth it.
Want to learn more?
Read these
Donnie Berkholz
@dberkholz
Questions?
Some content in this presentation falls under Creative Commons
licenses: CC-BY, CC-BY-SA, CC-BY-SA-NC

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Assholes are killing your project (MDC 2017)

Editor's Notes

  1. Gentoo experience Quantitation, social-science research RedMonk: bigger picture
  2. … Now let's think about where community fits into this
  3. Best predictor of long-term viability How do you attract new contributors and users? Your brand. Function of your ability to create results.
  4. Getting results from largely volunteer community means they need to be happy, feel a sense of ownership and pleasure in their accomplishment – assholes ruin this
  5. Metrics Greatness is a process, not a result Are a few assholes balanced by a few amazing people? – come back to this later
  6. Reputation is sticky; stayed down 20% permanently
  7. … How do we define what an asshole is?
  8. … How do we define what an asshole is?
  9. Intent to harm not required Difference between how a person treats the powerless and the powerful is a great judge of character
  10. Are a few assholes balanced by a few amazing people? Negative interactions 5x worse than positive
  11. Are a few assholes balanced by a few amazing people? Negative interactions 5x worse than positive
  12. Are a few assholes balanced by a few amazing people? Negative interactions 5x worse than positive
  13. Are a few assholes balanced by a few amazing people? Negative interactions 5x worse than positive
  14. 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! … This affects the diversity of your project too
  15. Male targets: reciprocity Female targets: avoidance (Pearson & Porath) – pic: fight vs flight Targets hold leaders at fault Role models Typical women in tech communities are not typical women – outliers in career path
  16. 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 … Effects of these negative interactions
  17. Refusal to confront reality Dreadful stats - 50% of targets considered quitting, 12% of targets quit. One asshole, multiple targets. Reputation: word of mouth. Cascade
  18. Word of mouth transforms one asshole into an avalanche Theo – OpenBSD
  19. External cooperation & recruitment: based on reputation, caused by word of mouth Recruitment is different in FLOSS from biz; everyone has the power
  20. Social and technical ability are orthogonal. One never balances out the other. A good coder has one; a good developer has both. … So what do we do about them?
  21. Personal interactions—have a conference Modeling
  22. People need somewhere to complain and a sense that action will happen—rapid feedback Reporting: encourage; have a place; respond; rapid feedback
  23. Culture is like molasses, not like code. Problem of change in diffuse organizations: persuasion, shared interests, reputation
  24. Show that social aspects have metrics, too. Developers believe numbers.
  25. 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
  26. Get rid of them, and later you'll wonder why it took you so long to act.