I was browsing around when I came across this: "Open Source is awful in many ways, and people should be aware of this".

This really struck me and surprised me. While I understand that harassment would be present in all fields and industries, I had never heard this. Some of the comments were interesting as well:

I got a bunch of attacks from members of the open source community, due to developing my XML parser. ( Grant McLean and others ) I also got attacked by Poul-Henning Kamp, and then threatened that he would "shame" me for pointing out bugs in his software that he refuses to acknowledge. Additionally, the founder of Perl Mongers, Brian D Foy, argued with me about the naming of my application framework, and then refused to approve the naming of my module even after other people on the newsgroup discussed it with me and we came to a good resolution. ( which led to the vanishing of "registered" modules on cpan imo )

The open source community, at large, is not a happy helpful place, and I have gone through a lot of harassment just contributing my own free open source stuff to the world. Also, I can't say I have ever been thanked for contributing. Just kicked in the face.

With a main focus of Open Source being the source code available to all, I would say that the attacks, if true, are outright unreasonable and inconsiderate. Also, this is outright disturbing to developers working on projects, as well as the pioneers of the industry.

Is harassment a big issue in the Open Source industry? Are there any statistics that show this?

  • 2
    At the moment this is probably a bit opinion-based. If you could focus even more on if there's evidence to show it, it would be fine.
    – ArtOfCode
    Jun 28, 2015 at 17:23
  • @ArtOfCode Okay, I'll see what I can do :)
    – Zizouz212
    Jun 28, 2015 at 17:27
  • 3
    Towards the mentioned post: Lennart Poettering who wrote that piece is very controversial and himself somewhat aggressive, so the blame is partly on him. But generally there are some issues, I'm unsure though if Open Source is particularly worse than programming communities in general.
    – Mnementh
    Jun 28, 2015 at 21:47
  • 2
    I've voted to reopen, since the question is, in its current state, objectively answerable.
    – overactor
    Jun 28, 2015 at 21:53
  • 3

2 Answers 2


This question asks two questions: 'is it a problem?' and 'are there studies'? I offer a response to the former.

All internet communities are at risk of hostility. As a subset of internet communities, Open Source development projects have, at least, the same risks as anything else.

Some Open Source communities work hard to avoid these problems. A core value of the Apache Software Foundation, for example, is 'community over code'. And the ASF Code of Conduct, which is mandatory for all open source projects, states quite clearly that the sort of bad behavior referenced here is unacceptable. The ASF is by no means the only locus of Open Source development to have such a code and such values.

As with all other aspects of 'open source', you cannot expect a general answer across all projects. Your Mileage Will Vary, and it's always wise to investigate the status and health of a community before investing energy into it.


The most comprehensive data I'm aware of is the 2017 Open Source Survey by GitHub. According to it, about a fifth of open source contributors have experienced a negative interaction in an open source project (e.g., rudeness, namecalling or outright harassment), and almost a half have witnessed such an interaction.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.