Trauma and open source communities

Trauma and open source communities

Imagine this scene….

You are part of an open source community. You get on a community phone call to discuss an upcoming release. After walking through a few open bugs, you hit one issue which triggers a response like this ( from a person we’ll call X )…

“What the heck is wrong with the submitter? Have they no idea what the code is intended to do? I’m just tired of seeing this complaining constantly, and in no way consider what they submitted as a bug.”

Maybe the call gets quiet at this point. Maybe someone speaks up in defense of the bug submitter. Maybe everyone on the call starts messaging in the background about this individual (“Why is X such a pain?”, “X is just off complaining again”, “X is such a determinant to our project”).

And maybe from there, a small fracture starts ( or grows ) in how the community functions.

When we see these interactions happen, the initial reaction is always about the incident soley. But let’s be honest, X didn’t wake up this morning and say “How can I be a jerk today?”. Maybe there’s thing going on with X?

  • X has had a rough week at work
  • X is not happy in their career
  • X has some challenges in their personal or family life
  • X was talked to in antagonistic way in the past, and now takes it out on others as a coping mechanism
  • X is had trauma in their past they they’ve never dealt with

Over the coming weeks, I’ll explore the larger story around trauma each of us have ( both big “T” Trauma and little “t” trauma ) and how we in open source communities can be cognizant and understanding of it. This exploration is drawn from my own personal experiences in trauma in my own life and that of my children’s lives.

If there are specific areas you want me to dig into, feel free to ping me on twitter.

Written on October 23, 2019
opensource   trauma