On entitlement, toxicity, and burnout in Open Source #OpenSource

[Toxicity is] rude, disrespectful, or unreasonable language that is likely to make someone leave a discussion.

– Google, Project Jigsaw

The paper, “‘Did you miss my comments or what?’ Understanding Toxicity in Open Source Discussions,” taught Tyler Cipriani something new. They took a deep-dive into GitHub comments to name something I’d seen but never had a term for: “entitlement.”

The five flavors of toxicity

The authors lump toxic comments into five flavors—four I’ve seen before:

  • 🤬 Insulting – Typing angry words at people.
  • 😏 Arrogance – When a comment author forces their “clearly superior” views on others. A hallmark of many technical disagreements.
  • 🤡 Unprofessional comments – Comments that make project members uncomfortable. Mostly unfunny attempts at humor that are inappropriate in a professional setting.
  • 🧌 Trolling – The lowest form of toxicity. As Justice Potter Stewart quipped about trolling1, “I’ll know it when I see it.”

And one is new to me:

  • 🆕 Entitlement – Pure PEBKAC fury. Comment authors act as if maintainers have violated a contract. They make unreasonable requests of the maintainers. They demand the software be different.

I’d seen entitled comments but never had a name for them.

Read more in the blog post here.

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