Chapter 2. Communication-specific guidelines

Table of Contents

Improving the content
Improving the presentation
Ensuring sustainability
Communication mini-HOWTOs
Bringing long threads to a conclusion
Coping with flamewars
Dealing with trolls


One of the big problems of large communities is keeping communication effective. The challenge is to keep providing everyone with high quality, compact information.

This often becomes difficult when many people participate in a discussion, as the amount of text and time spent in writing grows more quickly than the amount of information that is actually produced.

It is important to keep focused on improving our body of knowledge, just like we keep improving our body of software: working online, messages keep living after their recipient has read them, and become public pieces of information that can show in the list archives or the Debian BTS, get indexed in search engines, linked by other people, quoted or pasted in an HOWTO or an FAQ and so on.

Improving means caring for the information to have quality content and to be communicated efficiently. It also means making the process of producing and improving of our body of knowledge pleasant and sustainable over time.

What follows is a collection of suggestions about these three aspects (the section called “Improving the content”, the section called “Improving the presentation”, the section called “Ensuring sustainability”), plus practical suggestions to cope with recurring communication problems (the section called “Bringing long threads to a conclusion” and the section called “Coping with flamewars”).