Community problems?

No one has made any suggestions as to what tools we can effectively use to collect feedback about what aspects of the MusicBrainz community people think are broken. I’ve looked at a few tools to try and find something suited, but all I found was a lot of ill-fitting stuff.

So, let’s keep it simple and use this blog entry’s comments to talk about what bits about the community are working less than ideal right now. What bothers you? What feels wrong? What should we focus on right away to improve? What should we improve, but isn’t so important right this second?

Now, please remember to keep it polite, respectful and concise — if you are rude or hit me with a wall-of-text, I’ll ignore your comment. Also, please don’t name any names; don’t point fingers. Remember that everyone got a blank slate and is now innocent. If a particular person’s behaviour bothered you, describe the troublesome behaviour, not the person.

If you know of a ticket in Jira that already describes your issue, please reference the ticket! That will make sifting through the comments much easier. I’ll take your comments and try and weave them in a coherent set of topics and then post them somewhere. Exactly where is still to be determined — that depends on the amount/coherency of the feedback I get.

One issue that I prefer to not hear about is MBS-1801, the issue about people ignoring their emails about edits they have made. I’ve already set the process in motion to look at possible solutions for this issue and I hope to have a separate blog entry about this next week.

Go!

UPDATE: Some people did comment about solutions on. Sorry for skipping that part. (None of those suggestions really resonated with me either, sadly)

Poisonous people

As I work to re-shape our community, I’ve been brushing up on open source philosophy. I’ve already mentioned “Producing Open Source Software” book, which is great, but can be somewhat dry at times. A more recent book that covers more of the team related issues is the excellent “Team Geek“. In particular the chapter on “Poisonous people” is really well worth reading.

One passage summarizes some underlying themes of my current series of blog posts:

“But there’s a danger here. In general, it’s not healthy to spend one’s time stewing in an ocean of negativity—it tends to eat you up and can create more conflicts in the long run. The term poisonous person is a nasty label and automatically creates a dividing line between “us” (the good guys) and “them” (those nasty jerks). There’s a better way to think about the problem. Instead of running your team as an elite fraternity with a mission to repel mean people, it’s healthier to create a culture that simply refuses to tolerate certain negative behaviors.”

Our community currently has a number of disrespectful people who could be classified as “poisonous”. However, I have good news for these people: I’m wiping the slate clean! Everyone gets a fresh start. As of today no one is poisonous! Hooray! \ø/

However, if you decide to go against the updated principles I’m stating in this blog post series, you should expect that people will confront your behaviour. One point of these blog posts is to provide bite-sized chunks of information that can be used to succinctly state updated project policies. If you encounter a person who is communicating aggressively, is being disrespectful or is hindering the community from moving the project forward, please remind them of these blog posts. When you encounter a problematic person, post the link to this blog entry and respectfully remind them to improve their behaviour.

I would also like to propose that we organize a group of volunteers to form what could be called: “Team Respect“. If someone in the community finds a person who is going on a “no-vote spree” or is entering useless and aggression filled tickets into jira, then they can call on Team Respect to jump in. Team Respect should engage this person, link to the relevant blog posts/project policies and remind them to be respectful. The team should also review the actions of the person — if the team feels that the actions by this person were uncalled for, the team should work to counter-act their actions. For instance, if someone goes an on unjustified no-vote spree, the team members should evaluate the edits in question and if they “improve the database” then they should vote yes on the edits, improve the edits to remove the objections or even approve the edits outright if they are auto-editors. Use your best judgement, of course!

The basic idea behind Team Respect is to make being a disrespectful person no fun and frustrating. At the same time Team Respect can raise positive feelings in the community by working together and protecting the work for polite, respectful people. And the polite, respectful people whose work was protected will be more inclined to contribute in the future.