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Look, all communities should strive to be respectful, thoughtful places where we collaborate and make amazing things. Linux would be nothing if it were not for the people who make it, and everyone has different definitions of where the line should be drawn in acceptable conduct.
I am not talking about the obvious transgressions (such as some of the awful things has experienced that he shared in a post from about a year ago), but I am talking about where the line is drawn in civil discourse.
As with everything, there is a balance. There absolutely shouldn't be kowtowing, but we also shouldn't remove humanity from the equation. We are not emotionless machines making software, we are human beings making software.
As many of you who I have worked with will know, I am a pretty direct guy. When discussing a problem, feature, or plan, we should cut to the core of it and discuss it without the need to surround our words in bubble-wrap. We should be direct and we should be constructive, but not at the cost of being respectful and dignified.
I think some of the challenges that we are seeing here are a result of the difference in tone between many commercial and community settings.
In the commercial world, very direct, focused, and at times cutthroat discussion is pretty commonplace. Anyone who has served in a leadership position in a company will know exactly what I am talking about. While the discussions are typically dignified and respectful, they are often direct, blunt, and have a low tolerance for bullshit.
In most communities the tone is quite different, and this is typically because these communities exist in a public setting. For most people the tone they publicly exhibit and the tone they use privately are quite different. Publicly people tend to be more balanced, reserved, and calmer, primarily because they know their words are getting a much bigger audience, some of whom they don't know.
There are many things that are playing into the concerns recently shared about about conduct in Open Source, specifically LKML, and I think this difference in tonality in different settings, with different people, and with different relationships is part of it.
Saying all of this though, I do think leaders, whether it is or anyone else do have an important role to play. The wider conduct of a community, company, or other group is inspired and defined by their leaders. If you put good in, you will get good out.
Now, this sucks for leaders who may just want to be themselves, but that is the nature of being a leader: you have to suck it up and be a good example to others.
In conclusion, my view here is simple: when we collaborate together, we should treat others well. When we treat others well, they want to treat you well and we get even more out of our work together.
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