On forcing volunteers

Bruce Eckel:

When the concept of “forcing” is introduced, it breaks that unity and says “us” will force “them” to do things. That bothers me a lot because it tries to reassert an “us” and “them” in a unified group. That’s not what we’re trying to do, and a punishment-reward system only works intermittently.

To me the Python/Pycon community is all reward and no punishment.

What does work is incentive, and the biggest incentive when you want to be part of the community is incentive that comes from that community. At Burning Man, the people who have been there before try to indoctrinate the new people. It doesn’t always work at first, and things fall through the cracks. Those who understand the concept of “leave no trace” end up cleaning up after those who don’t. But the gentle pressure is there, and when you stop your bike to pick up a piece of MOOP (Matter Out Of Place — the subculture generates its own language), you get a positive feeling, even if there’s no one to see it. You’re connecting with and supporting the community with that simple act.

In Open Spaces conferences, the key to changing the culture is having simple, clear agreements that everyone knows about. Everyone knows that getting up and going to another talk is not only OK, it’s encouraged. Experimentation and discussion is encouraged. Once people figure out that it’s all about them doing the thing they most want to be doing right now, it flourishes.

A nice one!


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