The Free and Open Source Software community has a tendency to bring about the best and the worst in us – the polarization due in no small amount to the voice that FOSS provides to both users and developers alike. Developers are not shielded behind a faceless organization, but rather have their identity posted front and center with each controversial change. Likewise, users have direct outlets to voice their frustrations, praise, and suggestions. The transparency in our community gives people a feeling of ownership over the open source projects they support and advocate. This can lead to a sense of betrayal when unpopular changes are made. Users who have been supporting our cause for years, feel like they are owed a democratic vote in the direction of the project, and when changes are made that betray their trust, they respond viscerally.
This paradigm can be detrimental to everyone involved with an open source project. Developers can become jaded and distant from the communities using their work, and in return the communities can become cold, distant, unempathetic, and cruel to the developers whose work they use. There is little to no buffer between either side, and the results are raw and unfiltered, and can cause both developers and users alike to give up on the project. The transparency and clarity that can be the shining light of Free and Open Source software can also become be the downfall of a project unless actions are taken to reverse this direction.
So the question is, how can we balance both the transparent, communal structure of an open source project like GNOME, while also keeping our community and contributor environment friendly, enjoyable, and non-toxic.