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Communication Transparency

Question: How transparent is project communication?


Communication transparency measures the degree to which project communication channels are available for all community members, if project transparency is aligned with project governance, and if project communication is visible and archived. Open source projects utilize various forms of communication; for example, communication may occur at in-person events or may occur using online messaging technologies. While different project parts may have different transparency needs (e.g., high-level leadership meetings and code of conduct issues may require less transparency), communication transparency and the policies around using appropriate channels for specific topics should be signaled to the community.


Open source projects require various degrees of transparency for collaboration to occur. Clear signals of communication transparency help community members understand where their engagement and contributions are best suited within a community. The degree to which project communications occur and if decisions are made via transparent communication can indicate how inclusive a project is. Improving communication transparency also helps new contributors, occasional contributors, and community members know where their contributions have an immediate impact and provide clearer paths to leadership within a community.

Transparency in discussions and decision-making is important so that community members understand how decisions came to be. For example, the number of communication channels may affect transparency because specific discussion topics may be difficult to find across different channels. Including community members in discussions and decision-making builds strong communities, gives voice to all types of contributors, and provides a potential path to leadership for community members.



  • Chat platforms (i.e., Slack)
  • Email platforms
  • Project repositories (i.e., GitHub and GitLab)
  • In-person event recordings
  • Meeting video recordings (i.e., Zoom)
  • Meeting minutes
  • Wikis

Data Collection Strategies

  • Survey the community about communication transparency. Potential survey questions for community members include:
    • [Survey Likert Item 1-x] I am able to follow the conversations that are of interest to me that are occurring within the community.
    • [Survey Likert Item 1-x] The project decision-making process is open and available to all community members.
    • [Survey Likert Item 1-x] All of the communication related to specific project tasks occurs in the open (where appropriate).
    • [Survey Likert Item 1-x] Previous discussions and conversations are archived and accessible.
    • [Survey Likert Item 1-x] As a newcomer, I understand where and how decisions are made in the community.
    • [Survey Likert Item 1-x] Communication channels are discoverable for newcomers.
  • Regularly review the volume, types, and use of project communication channels. Work openly with project maintainers and community members to determine what communication channels are necessary and which communication channels can be removed, or improved upon. Data points to consider:
    • Number of communication channels and volume per channel
    • Types of communication channels (for example asynchronous chat versus synchronous virtual meetings)
    • Number of meetings
    • Time of the meetings
    • Communication transparency alignment with published governance
    • Project Access - How accessible project communication channels are
    • Documentation Discoverability - If project documents are archived and available
    • Collaboration Platform Activity - The count of activities across the various channels
    • Percent of communication that occurs in private channels (for instance on Slack)
    • Chat Platform Inclusivity - How do you review chat platform inclusivity for your community?



  • Kevin Lumbard
  • Matt Germonprez
  • Sean Goggins
  • Elizabeth Barron
  • Armstrong Foundjem

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