Encouraging respect and consideration in an open source project

All volunteer communities have to address the same issues at some point. How to recognise the work of volunteers? How to acknowledge their contributions?

Joomla is no different. For 14 years we've faced these issues without finding an answer.

  • How do we create a culture of respect?
  • How do we ensure that every contributor feels valued?
  • How do we attract new contributors?
  • How do we avoid excessive workloads, and reduce the danger of burn out?
  • How do we make it fun for everyone to work together?

The project leadership are all too aware of the issues. They have tried several times to find solutions. Creating the Volunteers Engagement Team is the most recent attempt. As a community we have to accept that today we still have much more to do. The easy option is to bury our heads in the sand and expect it to resolve itself over time. But that is not a solution. It is clear this is not something that a few volunteers can resolve on their own, no matter how committed they are.

Joomla belongs to all of us. We all have a role in creating a culture of respect. It is time to acknowledge that the only way to solve these issues is to deal with them as a Community, all together.

How to encourage respect?


As volunteers we lose motivation if we feel our views are not listened to. Even if in the end, we sometimes hear "you were right, we should have listened", it doesn’t help. Motivation has been lost, time has been wasted and the entire issue could have been avoided.

Be constructive

Every volunteer is passionate and cares about Joomla and its future. This can make it very hard to hear and accept criticism of our work. We have to acknowledge that none of us is perfect and it's important we listen to the opinions of others. With meaningful feedback, we are able to improve things and to improve our own knowledge.

Don’t just say "this is wrong". Try to be constructive and explain why you think it’s not the right way and suggest how it can be improved. Don’t get offended, listen, discuss, ask for a more detailed explanation if you need it and work together.

Work overload

Joomla has always relied on just a few volunteers to do an insane amount of work. They do this because they care about Joomla and have high expectations for its future. They are dedicating their lives to Joomla, putting aside their personal life, for the benefit of others.

This is not healthy for both the volunteer and the community. It can't be called volunteering any more and can create the feeling that you are being forced to do everything or nothing will get done.

When you don’t see any recognition or acknowledgement it stops being fun. You become angry, bitter, demotivated, or worse, burnt out and unable or unwilling to continue.

Don’t hide from criticism, welcome it.

We’re Open Source, don’t work behind closed doors

Working in private, exclusive teams or silos is not a solution for a project like Joomla. It is creating a barrier right at the beginning that says "we are right and we aren't interested in your opinion". This lack of transparency and avoiding feedback is forgetting we’re a community. It creates more anger and resentment. It shows a lack of respect for others.

We don't all speak the same language

We are a community of all ages, of all cultures and a community that speaks many languages. Many misunderstandings and disagreements are a result of this. When you are expressing yourself in another language it is more difficult. You may miss some of the subtleties and nuances of english and come across as abrupt or even rude.

Remember this before replying too fast and overreacting. You may be taking offence or seeing a lack of respect when none was intended.

Comment on the issue not on the person

Before responding to a comment that offended you, take a bit of time. Read it again and again. Usually it’s not as bad as when you read it the first time. Be measured in your answer. Answering an offense by another offense has never been a solution, it’s just escalating issues. Try to discuss, ask for more respect, and contact any team lead to get help. A lack of respect must never be ignored.

How to create a culture of respect?

Say Thank You

Joomla would not exist without its community of volunteers. Take a moment to say thank you. That’s only two little words but they can mean so much when you only hear criticism.

Leadership’s Commitment

The Joomla Leadership will do its best to show more respect, consideration and recognition towards its volunteers, to pay closer attention and to remind the community of our values.


If you have ideas on how we can improve recognition and create a culture of respect or if you want to help us, just send us an email at: .