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Conflict Resolution and Mediation

Question: How do open source maintainers address conflict that may arise while collaborating on a project?

Description

Conflicts are bound to occur whenever humans interact; it is no different in open-source projects where a wide range of contributors with varying personalities, objectives, and viewpoints collaborate. Navigating conflicts and identifying the root causes of these disputes, and effectively addressing them through communication and resolution methods when they arise is crucial. Employing the right conflict resolution and mediation processes within open-source communities can improve inclusive participation across a diverse audience.

Objectives

  • A community manager is interested in this metric because it helps gauge the effectiveness of conflict resolution strategies in maintaining a healthy and productive community.
  • An OSPO (Open Source Program Office) manager is interested in this metric because it can inform the development of conflict resolution policies and procedures.
  • An event organizer is interested in this metric because it can help recognize healthy ways towards conflict resolution at events.
  • A project maintainer is interested in this metric because it can help maintain positive relationships, healthy collaboration and communication in a community.

Implementation

Data we might look at includes:

Identification of Conflicts:

  • Are details about the conflict resolution and mediation process included in the project governance (or linked from the governance documentation?
  • Does the project offer any conflict resolution training to maintainers or leaders in the community?
  • Do community members know how conflicts are resolved? Is there a documented process for mediation when community members disagree?
  • Are there different conflict resolution policies for technical disagreements and personal disagreements?
  • Is there a way to indicate when “conversations” turn into “conflict?”
  • Is the mediation party a neutral third party? How is neutrality defined?
  • Is there a medium in which community members can report incidents where conflicts arise?
  • What are the materials presented to analyse the origin of these conflicts?

Example survey questions to gauge people’s satisfaction with and knowledge of the process:

  • Likert scale [1-x] item: I feel that there are conflicts in the community that go unresolved.
  • Likert scale [1-x] item: I feel that conflicts within the community have a negative impact for other community members.
  • Likert scale [1-x] item: If I had a conflict within the community, I know where to turn to find resolution.
  • Likert scale [1-x] item: There are specific areas within the community where conflict continually arises
  • Likert scale [1-x] item: Conflicts in my community become personal

References

Known Contributors

  • Anita Ihuman
  • Dawn Foster
  • Sean Goggins
  • Matt Germonprez
  • Elizabeth Barron
  • Daniel Murphy
  • Katie Schueths
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