Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Destroying Communities

I'm not only promoting KDE and asking stupid questions I also research about community building. The opposite of the questing you want to answer sometimes gives you a totally new perspective of your subject. Therefor my question is not how to build communities but how to destroy them.
  • How can I destroy a community (as a leader or developer or user or troll)? Under which circumstances would you stop contributing to KDE or any other Open Source Project (I've read some tweets about developer leaving a certain distro)?
I would be very happy if you could leaves some comments.

18 comments:

Daniël said...

Well, a developer of Linux Mint pretty much destroyed some of their community by commenting on the Israel/Palestine issue.

fmarmond said...

how to destroy community ?
By having "localized" (German for example) blog system instead of usual commonly used language (English for example) ;)

no real answer to your question, even if I think it's a very good way of thinking.

nightrose said...

What comes to my mind immediately: Having someone in the team who is constantly being negative and complaining about things. This can destroy a teams morale pretty quickly and eventually the team if without an intervention.

mikmach said...

Totally ignoring user contribution. Even if you don't like this particular user ideas/patches/whatever polite "no" + explanation is much better than silence.

Rafael Carreras said...

A good way would be achieving leadership, doing most of the cool work and abandoning it without any explanitions to anyone.

opensourcecat said...

A Community ends it's life when their users does not feels in needs of each others. It happens Also for Classic communities where the community exists because of the needs of people that starts to be part of a group of people which becomes community when people starts to have shared needs and interests. This can be somewhat applied to on-line communities. So said, let community interests fade away (to another project... or to another hobby!) and you will blow down a community...

annma said...

By not being able to integrate new members anymore and do stuff between a core group of people
For FLOSS projects, also by having too much 3-party paid developers who have sometimes dual interests and might choose the wrong one

Of course people being not polite to each other, tolerant, open, will lead to individual breakages and then to a general one.

Fri13 said...

Easy way to do so, is to spread lies or misinformation as facts.
To try to make the ways too much easier for avarage joe because thinking he should not need to know all the stuff right away.

Easy way is to promote own software or own work over others. Take the fame from others and give it to itself or others why do not deserve it.

One easy way is to not support each others, but brake it up to slices and then promote one specific workgroup as they would be done all.

There is few examples of these.

1. Browser wars (IE, Firefox, Opera, Konqueror, Safari, Chrome).
2. OS wars (NT, Linux, Hurd, XNU)
3. Distro wars (Ubuntu, Mandriva, Debian, Gentoo, Slackware, Fedora, OpenSUSE)

Politics and religion has always made the biggest wars on the history of human race. Kingdoms has falled because of those. Persons has died because of Love and Hate.

One good example of the destrying communities is Ubuntu. It is taking the fame of Debian quality of software. It is taking the fame of the Linux OS as Operating System. It is taking the fame of the Free Software from GNU, with it's own philosophy.
And it has already lots of followers who actually believes what Mark Shuttleworth could have done (what he has not done, and does not even itself say so), what most of Ubuntu users spread around the world.

Why I take example of Ubuntu? Because it is now most famoust Distribution of Linux OS in the world? No. Not because that. But because what it has done to Open Source community.

To understand that, we should know what we had before Ubuntu. That is simple. We had exactly the thing what Ubuntu is now. Ubuntu has not brought us nothing special things. It just happend to be right place on right time and it got noticed on media, even other distributions got same features.

Canonical is keeping Ubuntu up. It packages the software of the OSS community (Linux OS, GNU tools and applications) and distribute it as own product.
Everything because Mark Shuttleworth is pushing his own money to Canonical, even that company does not yet profit that it could stand alone on the markets.

There is multiple different distributors who are standing alone. RedHat, Novell, Mandriva, Xandros, Linpus and the list can be continued.

Mark did not want to support OSS. It wanted to profit by using OSS by making own distribution. The OSS is just gaining itself something there, but that is not the main point.

This ain't bashing Mark Shuttleworth. It is just a simple thing what everyone should think.

If Mark would like to support Firefox, why he does not place his money to develop that?
If Mark would like to support Linux OS, why he does not place his money to kernel.org developers?
If Mark would like to support OSS getting marketshare in the world, why he build up own distribution and did not push money to marketing other already existing distributions?

Ubuntu is now on everyones lips almost. It has overrided all other OSS principles and ideas. It's users spreads lies and misinformation just by basing them to their own believings.

And this ain't just happening on Ubuntu, but it is just great example of it.

OSS community was already got things right before Canonical was founded. We got Tux on hardware boxes to mark that device works on Linux OS 2.x series. We got media to talk about it and the idea of the OSS and GNU. Now they all run after Ubuntu, speaking how great job it is from all the build up from scratch the Ubuntu. How Ubuntu is better OS than Linux etc.

I dont talk the community just in the small circle thing. It is the whole software industry. It is now so sad to teach new users on the computer science when they are Ubuntu users and they does not even have a clue what Linux really is. Most just belives it is just a kernel and not the OS.

They do not know what GNU has done and what is GPL license. They speak about Ubuntu philosophy "Humanity to others" and how great it is how Ubuntu invented the open source.

The problem is that people wants to everything happend fast and easy way. They do not want to learn things, they just want things to happend.

Many young people can not stand still for 15 seconds. This kind problems can be found on army where teens just can not follow simply orders and understand the chain of the command.

Marketing is problem, it spreads so many ideas and nice things what people admire and they want that to happen, no matter what they do or what their actions affect to others. The good things need to be get done now, right now.

When watching the OSS movement. We have upstream and downstream development and the correct chain of the command how stuff is done. And when this front line of OSS is braked, by one party. It makes more damage than the "enemy" can do outside to that line. That party is currently Ubuntu and it's followers. That is just sad and little bit mean way to say it but that is it in simple format.

Too much bug reports are done reported against Ubuntu and for Ubuntu itself. They do not come to upstream anymore. The development moves away from upstream to downstream and upstream can not anymore do their job and develop the software and other downstreams are cut out because Ubuntu.

kde-look, kde-apps, gnome-look and other similar sites are biased about Ubuntu. Wikipedia is biased about Ubuntu, Media is biased about Ubuntu and only thing what is still standing, is the old and smaller group who have actually builded the whole OSS movement and the stuff what Ubuntu users are misusing for their own fanwork.

To destroy the community, it is need to be done from INSIDE of it. Not from OUTSIDE.

To keep community working, we need to stick together and plan things together and spread the deveplment to multiple different areas where all can work as own cells to gain the same goal.

"United we Stand, divided we fall"

Why we should allow Canonical/Ubuntu to give orders trought their users/developers to whole OSS community? Why we should allow some of us, Ubuntu users, to twist the truth and facts to their minds and spread that propaganda behold of us?

I use Ubuntu as my preferred distribution only because my work. Our clients are designing now hardware and software only for Ubuntu. Not caring at all LSB-standards or other distributions. Many of our clients believe that Canonical controls all the software what they distribute, like MS does most of the software on Windows. And that is just terrible!

And what then if (actually when) Canocanil falls to bankrupt in few years when they does not get their financial working?
Do we seek out another distribution what we promote to replace Ubuntu and we continue to slow down our movement?

Nathan Bradshaw said...

One of the few examples I have from personal experience is the OSnews website. As the garbage quotient went up, the number of reasonable people posting on the site went down until it reached a point where it was simply more frustrating to try and be a part of than was justified by any possible pay back in enlightening conversation. Result: left the community as have a number of others.

Nathan Bradshaw said...

sorry, just to add a quick postscript and as a good counter example to my post: praise $DEITY for the new mod system on the dot. Really reduced the amount of trolling.

burki said...

I found the following talk very inspiring:

How Open Source Projects Survive Poisonous People (And You Can Too)
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4216011961522818645

nixternal said...

What would make me stop contributing to a project or a distro would be blatant disrespect from a high level individual.

With that being said, I am willing to bet you were referring to me about leaving a distro that you read through tweets. I don't specifically remember saying I was going to leave, was just interested in looking for other projects that I could possibly help out. Yes, I was blatantly disrespected in the project I was considering (and still am) on leaving. If I were to leave said project, I would still do it honorably and not leave people hanging, step down properly.

When you have large communities such as KDE, GNOME, Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, openSUSE, and others, it would be tough to destroy the community. It would really take a top level person to do a bunch of really bad stuff I think to destroy it.

Trolls have no chance of destroying a community, unless there was just 1 person in that community, the troll themself.

Alexandra said...

One of the most harming things is a constant unspoken disagreement (or sometimes just misunderstanding) between core members of a team resp. community. None of the involved is able to "do the right thing" towards the other and all sides tend to assume the worst.

An open fight is not enjoyable but in any case preferable to this latent conflict that can easily destroy any motivation just because of the "bad vibes".

Thomas Thym said...

Thank you very much for those brilliant comments. You really help me much. The longer I know the KDE community the more I am fascinated.

@ fmarmond: I thought blogspot would select your language due to your browser settings. Thanks for reporting. Now it should be fixed.

notriddle said...

Am I the only one who disagrees wholeheartedly with Fri13?

@Fri13: "It is taking the fame of Debian quality of software. It is taking the fame of the Linux OS as Operating System. It is taking the fame of the Free Software from GNU, with it's own philosophy."

Let's quote ubuntu.com, okay? "Ubuntu is a community developed, Linux-based operating system" sounds like it gives credit to Linux plenty. And as for GNU and Debian, Ubuntu isn't unique in that respect.

@Fri13: "We had exactly the thing what Ubuntu is now."
I've used plenty of distributions (Fedora, Mandriva, Gentoo), and none of them have ever been as easy-to-use as Ubuntu. At least, not before Ubuntu was released, some may have after.

@Fri13: "even other distributions got same features. "
Before Ubuntu, or after?

@Fri13: "Canonical is keeping Ubuntu up. It packages the software of the OSS community and distribute it as own product."
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_distribution) That's what a Linux distribution is... and as for "as own product", read the Ubuntu home page again: "Ubuntu is a community developed, Linux-based operating system".

@Fri13: "It has overrided all other OSS principles and ideas."
Repeat after me, "Ubuntu is a community developed operating system". Explain how that is contrary to F/OSS principles, please. And as for "humanity toward others", that idea, seems to summarize human ethics in general; it's hardly harmful.

@Fri13: "Most just belives it is just a kernel and not the OS."
*resists the urge to type in all caps* That is exactly what Linux is: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU/Linux_naming_controversy.

@Fri13: "They do not know what GNU has done and what is GPL license. They speak about Ubuntu philosophy "Humanity to others" and how great it is how Ubuntu invented the open source."
Show me someone who believes that Ubuntu invented F/OSS. And as for GPL, they wouldn't know what it is, anyway, if they were using Windows. (if anyone is to be mistaken for the inventor of F/OSS, it would probably be Mozilla, not Ubuntu...)

@Fri13: "Mark did not want to support OSS. It wanted to profit by using OSS by making own distribution."
Exactly the position of Red Hat, Novell, and Mandriva. Not unique to Canonical. Also, I highly doubt Ubuntu would die, especially now, if Shuttleworth vanished.

@Fri13: "If Mark would like to support OSS getting marketshare in the world, why he build up own distribution and did not push money to marketing other already existing distributions?"
Maybe none of them fit his needs. Mandriva and OpenSuSE both have commercial "special editions" (see the Ubuntu promise against that) and Debian was not meant to be easy to use. Shuttleworth wanted to make an especially easy to use distribution, and wanted it to be totally without any of the baggage all the other easy-to-use distributions have.

@Fri13: "How Ubuntu is better OS than Linux etc."
Show me. They may say "Ubuntu is better than other Linux distributions", but that is not the same thing...

@Fri13: "Many of our clients believe that Canonical controls all the software what they distribute, like MS does most of the software on Windows."
Well, they do apply patches to the software they distribute, so they do decide what goes into Ubuntu...

@Fri13: "Our clients are designing now hardware and software only for Ubuntu."
That is their right and they could've done that for any other distribution. Also, Ubuntu regularly submits their patches upstream, so it is likely that the software and hardware works with other distributions.

@Fri13: "And what then if (actually when) Canocanil falls to bankrupt in few years when they does not get their financial working?"
Ubuntu would continue as a completely community-supported distribution. I'm pretty sure Shuttleworth would even allow the community to take the brand; he doesn't seem to be very stingy.

I will not reply any more to this discussion, not wanting to overrun our KDE friend's blog. If you want to continue, please hold it elsewhere: I will reply to posts of URLs.

Jakob Petsovits said...

@Fri13 and notriddle:
I think you're both off-topic. Ubuntu has not destroyed the Debian community (aren't they still pushing out releases every now and then?), Linux distros and the kernel are more alive than they were before. If I understand correctly, this blog post is about "destroying communities". Not "competing with different approaches".

I think large free software communities can only die a slow death. Either by means of a competitor that delivers a more interesting product *and* community, or by resistance against necessary change. Both are fundamentally the same, as new stuff will eventually outsmart the unchanging one.

Also, development circles that never yields a stable state is dangerous for adoption, and thus developer interest. Projects with an "always summer in trunk" philosophy seem to work splendidly well in terms of community health.

André said...

By adding complexity so that no one can come and fix a simple problem. Projects have to make it easy to be a hero, so to destroy the community make it difficult. You should be unable to compile without unreasonable efforts. If the entry barrier is too high and core developers overloaded, the situation becomes perfect. Lack of usability for development is key.

Reject working patches and tell no one why you do so. The beta level veterans can't explain it either but believe in your wisdom. Sure you are the one who can fix it but you are overloaded.

If all previous requirements are met, invent new reasons. Finally make your own implementation that is also buggy like hell but comes from the family to render the contribution obsolete.

Avoid to modularize development and ensure a single points of failure. That gets you more power.

Then start a major rewrite but don't tell anyone where you are heading. Don't waste your time with the crowd that does not really contribute and lurk. After all you are one of the few people entrusted to contribute, the others don't matter and waste your time.

The ideal management method for a community comes from the army. You are the sergeant and people want something from you. Impose a policy and start community guidelines. People do not matter, there are enough volunteers waiting in line.

Thomas Thym said...

@ burki: just watching the video. I like it.

@ Jakob and André: Thanks for your enlightening comments.