Assholes are Killing Your Project

Donnie Berkholz (RedMonk), Leslie Hawthorn (Elasticsearch)
Location: F151
Average rating: ****.
(4.38, 13 ratings)

The strength of your community is the best predictor of your project’s long-term viability. What happens when that community is gradually infiltrated by assholes, who infect everyone else with their constant negativity and personal attacks? Although someone may be a valuable technical contributor, that person will never contribute as much to the project as the many others who are scared away and demotivated.

This talk will teach you about the dramatic impact assholes are having on your organization today and will show you how you can begin to repair it.

Photo of Donnie Berkholz

Donnie Berkholz


Donnie is an IT industry analyst at RedMonk as well as an open-source developer and leader of Gentoo Linux. He brings a strong quantitative and analytical background as a Ph.D.-trained scientist to bear on software development and community management.

Photo of Leslie Hawthorn

Leslie Hawthorn


An internationally known community manager, speaker and author, Leslie Hawthorn has spent the past decade creating, cultivating and enabling open source communities. She created the world’s first initiative to involve pre-university students in open source software development, launched Google’s #2 Developer Blog, received an O’Reilly Open Source Award in 2010 and gave a few great talks on many things open source.

In August 2013, she joined Elasticsearch as Community Manager, where she leads Developer Relations. She works from Elasticsearch’s EU HQ in Amsterdam, The Netherlands – when not out and about gathering user praise and pain points. You can follow her adventures on Twitter

Comments on this page are now closed.


Picture of Christopher Neugebauer
Christopher Neugebauer
07/27/2012 9:43pm PDT

Sad that Leslie wasn’t there, but the talk was great, backed up with data, and plenty of insight.

Picture of Shane Curcuru
Shane Curcuru
07/20/2012 4:51pm PDT

Sorry I missed it! Can you compare and contrast with the Poisonous People talk?

Also, is there a good directory of these kinds of resources: i.e. not just community etiquette and how to find good community, but how a community-governed group can effectively police the poisonous people that sometimes show up?

Ben van 't Ende
06/18/2012 12:57pm PDT

Heyla, I am more then interested in your talk. Great the two of you teamed up. I am currently being sued by a company (I used to be co-owner) for my community work. I would be interested to know how you think the Board of an open source project should respond. Currently they don’t want to get involved as it is personally against me. As community manager for the project I feel the board should speak up.

I guess we will also meet at CLS, right?

gRTz ben


For information on exhibition and sponsorship opportunities at the conference, contact Sharon Cordesse at (707) 827-7065 or

View a complete list of OSCON contacts