I don’t want to single out anyone, but over the last few weeks I’ve either been struck by a unconnected group of random incidents, or am seeing a disturbing trend. In either case I want to call it out and hope folks try hard to reverse the trend or reduce the number of incidents. (I think I have seen ‘default to private’ about 6 or 8 times in the last few weeks)

To borrow a phrase from Red Hat, “default to open” is something I aspire to always do, especially in the Fedora community. This means simply that you default to sharing everything in the open by default and only after specific consideration do you keep something not open.

This means:

  • Default to sending to a list when you are replying to something asked there. 
  • Default to asking in a irc channel instead of sending someone a private message
  • Default to filing a ticket when you wish something done instead of sending private email.
  • Default to replying on a bugzilla bug instead of sending private emails.

The point is you should not think “oh, should I send this publicly?” You should Default to that, and only specific, rare things that need to be private can be private.

This has any number of advantages, both for you and the community:

  • You can get an answer faster from a group of people than just one person. 
  • You can get peer review of that answer from the group, where you wouldn’t by just talking to one person.
  • You can increase the knowledge of the community, instead of hiding it away. Perhaps 5 other people had the same question you just asked and got answered.
  • You can start discussions and end up with a much better solution than the one person you were trying to talk to would have given you.
  • Your question or comment could lead others in related questions or comments.

In the Fedora world, we really should default to open. So, if you send me something privately that I think should be public, don’t be surprised if I ask you to reshare with the community.

PS: I think the origin of the phrase “Default to open” is this blog post by Chris Grams: http://darkmattermatters.com/2009/07/16/red-hat-culture-tip-default-to-open/ but I’d love to hear further on the origin of the phrase.