October 10, 2018

4 Best Practices for Giving Open Source Code Feedback

In the previous article I gave you tips for how to receive feedback, especially in the context of your first free and open source project contribution. Now it's time to talk about the other side of that same coin: providing feedback.

If I tell you that something you did in your contribution is "stupid" or "naive," how would you feel? You'd probably be angry, hurt, or both, and rightfully so. These are mean-spirited words that when directed at people, can cut like knives. Words matter, and they matter a great deal. Therefore, put as much thought into the words you use when leaving feedback for a contribution as you do into any other form of contribution you give to the project. As you compose your feedback, think to yourself, "How would I feel if someone said this to me? Is there some way someone might take this another way, a less helpful way?" If the answer to that last question has even the chance of being a yes, backtrack and rewrite your feedback. It's better to spend a little time rewriting now than to spend a lot of time apologizing later.

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