Every once in a while you come across something that makes you say to yourself "If only I could express myself with the same words, this really makes sense to me." Recently, I've had two of these moments.

One was watching a presentation by Jono Bacon, Ubuntu Community Manager, entitled: "The Engines Of Community". If you haven't already done so, I encourage you all to take the time to watch this.

The second one of these moments (and I don't appear to be the only one that feels this way) was reading the following blog post from Jeremy Wilken entitled: "Dear Community". As with the first, I encourage you all to read it, and have quoted it in full below:


Dear Community,

I want to write an open letter to you all. In a struggle to think about all of the many angles that are present in the numerous community issues, I have come to realize a few things that have to do with our behavior, our comments, our actions, and most importantly our attitude.

It is a bit embarrassing because I have been guilty of most of the issues I'm about to raise here. I do hope we can all learn to grow out of these problems, and do something productive with our time. I'm going to just list issues, and provide a resolution for a way to handle the issue in a positive way. I don't wish to dwell and point fingers, we've all done it, and the best result is that we all try our best to .

I would be very happy if you would agree to these resolutions, which I hope will bring a positive turn to our community. If you have further issues to raise, please raise them in the comments below in the same kind of format, and avoid elaborating on the problem but focus on the resolution.


Resolution: If I have a complaint, I shall register it with the proper person using the proper channel. If no clear channel exists, then I shall first seek information (probably via forum) about with whom I should speak. If it is still unclear what I should do, then I shall raise it as a question rather than complaint, and offer up possible solutions to encourage improvement.

Careless or drive by posting

Resolution: If I cannot devote the time or energy to reading or understanding the entire topic that is presented, then I shall refrain from posting my thoughts until I have done so. I will not create an ignorant post, creating a speedbump in the flow of ideas.

Negative overtones or undertones

Resolution: I shall think before I write or speak or act, and ensure that I review my comments to make sure they properly reflect my meaning without additional negative overtones. When prudent, I will try to have someone review my comments so I don't sound like a jerk.

Jumping to conclusions and accusations

Resolution: I shall ask questions before laying judgements or making statements. Rather than assuming details, I shall make sure I have proof or identify that information is unavailable and request it. Making assumptions always makes an ... you know the rest.

Missing the point of the topic

Resolution: I will read the entire thread of comments or posts before I add my own comments. I will also focus on the original post contents and not get caught up in off-topic threads. If a new topic comes to light, I shall work to start a new thread and encourage others to focus on the main topic.

Abusing the system

Resolution: I shall not abuse the community networks by trying to get extra personal or professional recognition. I will not abuse my client/contact base to rally activity around something directly related to me, such as a program review system.

Forgetting the Internet is public record

Resolution: Even when I'm using my personal blog/Facebook/Twitter/whatever, I shall not resort to hiding behind a personal account for negative out-lashing. Likewise, I will not forget that what I say is almost always online forevermore, and I commit myself leaving a good record for future generations.

Thinking negatively towards others in the community

Resolution: I will try my best to look at all members of the community as equal and remember that we all have the same goals. I may disagree with them or their actions, but I will respect them as a fellow community member. This includes those on leadership, those active in the community, and new members.

Having an air of importance

Resolution: Regardless of my own self-perceptions, I will avoid thinking of myself as better than others. I am not royalty, and while what I'm doing might be really important, my attitude should be humble. My ego should not be my defining factor.

Tearing down ideas without new suggestions

Resolution: If I disagree with someone, I will provide positive responses by suggesting alternatives. If I cannot think of an alternative, then I will ask questions about the issues I disagree rather than attacking it. I may give rationale for why I disagree, but it should always be accompanied by positive suggestions.

Make these resolutions to improve the community

Thank you to all of those who have kept a cool head or have provided wisdom over the past, your leadership is certainly the kind of attitude we all need to adopt. Most of these ideas have come from good examples in the community. I am going to try my best to follow these resolutions, and if (or when) I fail I do hope someone will step in and bring it to my attention. Accountability is at the heart of community. If we fail to do the kinds of things I have listed here, then I see little hope for the concept of an open source community. Its not just one community, its all communities. There will always be trolls in a community, bent on rage, but most of us are above that and its worth remembering that.