Eclipse Ecosystem

A blog devoted to promoting the Eclipse ecosystem

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Three Things I've Learned working in Open Source

It's quickly closing in on my first year at the Eclipse Foundation and I have learned a heck of a lot. People keep asking me how working in Open Source is different than what I was doing before, and I seem to be zeroing down on three key points.

1. Do everything in the open. This was a really tough thing for me to adjust to. I was used to just doing stuff and asking permission/forgiveness later, or for controversial stuff just firing off an email to my boss and saying "here's what I'm going to do". I never got away with that here. If I told Skip, Mike, Ian, Bjorn (etc) that I was going to do something the response was swift and consistent - "Did you ask the add-in provider reps for ideas?" "Did you ask the comitter reps for ideas?" "Blog about it first and see what the community thinks." "You need to open a bug, contact this mailing list and/or post to this newsgroup to see what the community thinks."

2. Check the ego at the door. Why do things in the open if you aren't completely open to feedback, new ideas and critique. In fact, I think that's the whole point of doing things in the open, and a key reason that Open Source is successful. Wisdom of crowds. Some criticism will be really polite (and constructive), some criticism will be really scathing (and yet still constructive). You need to learn to see through the emotion, pick up on the key ideas and work constructively with it.

3. Prepare to have your good ideas used mercilessly by everyone. I'm here to promote the Ecosystem, so I love it when we have a good idea that gets picked up and leveraged by our members and supporters. But part of doing things in the open is that your detractors can also see what your plans are well in advance and will imitate you as best they can. It is flattering of course, especially when their resources, reach and skills just aren't there to pull the ideas off to the same degree.

- Don

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