Social Rules in OSS Communities

What makes people rock and roll in OSS communities? After two years of hanging out in the Drupal Crowd, there have come some observations to me that I'd like to share.

Some People are frustrated, others envived. Some stay in very long, some leave. Some do a lot of work, others mainly consume. But to many of them, the Community is an important peer group and may even feel like home. Mostly over IRC, you communicate directly with people from Melbourne, Shanghai and Los Angeles. This alone has some drive that does not cease to fascinate me.

What parts OSS projects from commercial ones? Well, firstly, you don't get paid if you help out, and you do not have to pay to use it. This makes a cultural distiction that pulls in a different set of people. Some people don't even get what this is about, so don't expect them to join us. Some peoplewon't use it, because: "Where do I get support?" "Ah, no, the commercial one looks nicer" "What about reliability?". So a general consensus something shared for free does not mean it has to be worse than something sold for hard cold cash is probably there.

Secondly, which was Googles Slogan for some time: don't be evil. What does this mean? Generally, by participating in an OSS project, quite some people have goals like making the world a better place, or doing good in general. This makes for a completely different motivation than working in your 9 to 5 and being paid for the pain you endure. So generally, one would suggest that this means be nice to each other, be open and welcoming to new people. Talking about Drupal, I'd claim that this applies, but when it comes to contributing to core and wanting to enact change, the rules are a bit different... }:-]< Still for this, Drupal even has a helpful Set of rules that can get you started if you are wondering what this is about. Still all this is far too much throwing cotton balls, our Friend Merlin got a version of this that is much more fun. 

If you like Full contact sport

Let's talk about IRC, for many people claim that it is the main motor of Drupal. And, oh, let's talk about #drupal. Some strange woman claimed once that this channel is a scary place. So the first time I went there, I was aware that this was the principal channel and all the rockstars like Dries, Chx, Eaton or Merlinofchaos were hanging out here. So could I dare adress anyone or how to behave? Well after a while you find out that it is quite easy. Sure if people don't know you, it is like coming into your new class for a primary school kid. Nobody knows you and you gotta make friends. But as long as you are not acting plain silly or ask support questions, people will reply to you kindly. Ah, and don't make exessive use of the W or J word ;)

And IRC to me IS the main motor of Drupal (say the Issue queue and g.d.o are the other two most important ones). Only going to a Drupalcon or other meetup will give you more direct contact, one can base the major part of observations about the do's and don'ts when participating and observing the interaction in the channel. If you don't go into IRC, you will sometimes wonder how to know about what is going on. Decisions are taken, stuff is being talked about that you are supposed to know - and you hardly have a chance on being informed without using the chit-chat Dinosaur that is your IRC client.

To be continued. 

If you want more of this - vote for my DC Paris session ;) Hehe, Ad at the very end, badly disguised.


Very interesting.. What exactly did you do while you worked for drupal?

Website laten maken

Steve Ballmer always makes me laugh, haha.


great post thanks, i have bookmarked this site for further reading : )