The conversation rages on, discussion and debate abound, individuals pick fights and people take sides. The community becomes embroiled in each minor change and pick up the banner for the underdog regardless of the logic or lack of evidence supporting a claim. At times it feels almost ludicrous. How could such animosity, such anger and personal feelings be so openly shown within a community? I believe the reason is simple and it is one of the reasons why I love open source.

Reason 1: Open source is full of passion.

Why can so much drama be found in open source communities? (Love the logo there BTW). I believe the answer is a single word. Individuals in open source communities hold a character quality which cannot be bought, sold, forced, or enforced. These volunteers have passion. They believe in what the community stands for and they believe in the power of their voice to improve it. They love the efforts being made and they love the goals the community is trying to accomplish.

At times this passion is difficult to control. Moderating oneself on discussions which matter to them regarding something they feel so strongly for is difficult (impossible?). But this passion, this desire to be a part of the discussion and the community is indeed one of the reasons why I love open source. Let me give you a few examples.

Passion implies dedication

At times it can certainly feel discouraging when there is debate and discussion on every point. In fact, if talking is the extent of every decision then indeed the community will fail. Action must be taken to implement change, to make progress, and to improve. This can be easily lost in discussions and debates. It’s much easier to talk about something than to actually do something. I challenge you now – do something!

That was a freebie ‘aside’. Whenever you get to feeling discouraged or frustrated with these frequent examples of passion (through the form of debate or argument) remind yourself of this simple fact. This level of dedication often occurs because the individual is passionate about what you’re doing and what they believe holds value. If they didn’t-they would leave. (I know at times that seems hard to believe.) The next time you feel like someone is arguing just for the sake of arguing keep this point in mind.

Passion demonstrates attention

When someone can post a comment or create an issue and immediately generate multiple responses this tells me there is a certain amount of attention being demonstrated within the community. Individuals who are showing attention to everything occurring within the community hold a passion about the community. They care. Sounds crazy when you read responses and replies but the bottom line is clear. If they didn’t care they would find another community.

Open source communities frequently rely on the volunteers to contribute time and attention without renumeration (no pay). When a community has a significant number of individuals demonstrating such a high level of attention to details and minor discussions it shows a passion for the community. There is little financial gain for these volunteers but they value the community and its future enough to give it their attention.

Passion shows life

The last thing I use to remind myself when feeling discouraged with the seeming endless debates found in open source communities is the fact that without this debate, without this passion, there would be no community involvement. The very presence of these discussions demonstrates the life of the project and the community which holds them. Each open source community I am involved with seems to hold some level of these discussions and arguments. Each also can be overwhelming at times. But if everything was quiet in the community there would be cause for concern as well.

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The next time you are feeling discouraged or frustrated with your community for some reason use this post to remind yourself of the value of the passion which drives your community. Passion in open source communities is an invaluable asset. You won’t find the same type of passion anywhere else. This is one of the reasons why I love open source so much. Open source communities are unique and wonderful.

So take a deep breath and focus on the positive aspects. Then, with a clear mind and a cool head, dive in and make a difference yourself.

Above all, don’t let the passion end in a debate or fall into the trap of endless discussion. Break the cycle, contribute more. Get up, get involved, roll up your sleeves and do something. No matter how small, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Just do.