Focusing on negative feedback can lead contributors to frustration and burnout – here are ways to give thanks.

Every open source community is made up of real people with real feelings. Many open source contributors are working in their free time to provide essential software that we use daily. Sometimes praise is lost in the feedback of bugs or missing features. Focusing on too much negative feedback can lead contributors to frustration and burnout.

However you end up contributing to OpenStack, or any open source project, I believe that what gets people excited about working with a community is some form of recognition.

My first answer to people coming into the OpenStack community is to join our Project Team Gathering event. Significant changes are discussed here to understand the technical details to carry out the work in the new release. You should seek out people who are owners of these changes and volunteer to work on a portion of the work. Not only are these people interested in your success by having you take on some of the work they have invested in, but you will be doing work that interests the entire team. You’ll finish the improvements and be known as the person in the project with the expertise in that area. You’ll receive some recognition from the team and the community using your software. And just like that, you’re hooked because you know your work is making a difference. Maybe you’ll improve that area of the project more, venture onto other parts of the project, or even expand to other open source projects.

If you work in the OpenStack community, there’s also another way you can give and get recognition. In OpenStack IRC channels, you can thank members of the community publicly with the following command:

#thanks <irc_nick> for being a swell person in that heated discussion!

To be clear,  <irc_nick> is replaced with the person you want to give thanks.

Where does this information go? Just like the Success Bot in which we can share successes as a community, Thanks Bot will post them to the OpenStack wiki. They will also be featured in the OpenStack Developer Digest.

In developing this feature, I’vee had help and feedback from various members of the community. You can see my history of thanking people along the way, too.

At the next OpenStack event, you’re still welcome to buy a tasty beverage for someone to say thanks. But why not give them recognition now too and let them know how much they’re appreciated in the community?

Mike Perez is the cross-project developer coordinator at the OpenStack Foundation. You can find him as as thingee on IRC and Twitter.