Discussion is the cornerstone of a project like this and the sharing of viewpoints is crucial, as is understanding and accepting that many views will differ from your own. By all means debate rigorously and defend your view point stoutly, but avoid abrasive dialogue and personal attacks.
Give leeway to people who do not have English as a first language. Pause before taking insult, and pause before responding. There is a difference between robust discussion and steamrollering. Civility is paramount. Manners cost nothing; we are all capable of self-moderation, and of being aware of our conduct.
“To create, as a community, the leading international office suite that will run on all major platforms and provide access to all functionality and data through open-component based APIs and an XML-based file format.”
The AOO project is a place for finding open-source solutions to document creation and consumption. We believe in making AOO freely available because we are the sort of people who welcome diversity in others, creativity of all sorts and who enjoy finding the best in all situations.
Not only are there lots of people on this list whose first language is not English there are some busy readers who, by necessity, have to read things quickly. If other list members are telling you they do not understand what you wrote, or take your innocent phrasing in a poor light, take it as a signal that your writing style is too idiomatic or too technical (unlikely but possible) for others to follow easily. This does not necessarily indicate that you are mean, wrong and bad, so just be nice and reword the passage. Assume people are not in "attack mode." We are all on the same team here.
Assuming people are not in attack mode means that if you think they are, just now, then probably you are just misunderstanding their point. Ad hominem attacks, e.g., "You are too dumb to get this," are a sign that you yourself may not have a good-enough handle on the issue to explain your point clearly.
Always remember that unless there is a darn good reason, nothing gets decided at the ASF in less than 72 elapsed hours, so your reply can wait until morning. You might even get lucky, and when you check back somebody else will have posted either what you wanted to say, or something close enough that you can work with it.
Remember that the members of a community mailing list will get to the list when they can. Most of us do this in our spare time, and in different time zones. Perhaps the rule of thumb could be to respond no more than once per hour, or once per day, to any given thread. The highest frequency of responses does not necessarily “Win” in a community of equals. The most concise and useful post tends to win, because furthering the dialog and advancing the community's goals is what we all desire.
Of course, not all threads are decision-making threads. Some are debugging or problem solving. In those cases, the opposite advice applies. If you know the answer, and can state it briefly, then do so.
Write as tersely as possible and edit down as much possible so that other people who are just as busy as you may quickly get your point without ending up defensive. Of course, balance is needed. Do not let brevity get in the way of providing enough information. Remember that people must understand your post in order to understand your point.
People who read emails on small screens are not the only ones who are frustrated by picking important new information out of tons of stuff they have already read. To trim a post, one simply remove any parts of the post to which one is replying that are not important to understand ones reply. If the response to one of these posts is, “What? I do not understand,” then it may be that too much of the context may have been removed.
What happens on a private list, stays on that list. There are only a few private lists on the project, e.g., the PMC list and the Security Team. But you might on occasion interact with other private lists, like legal-internal or infrastructure-private. Anything you read in a private list is confidential and not to be spoken of, or copied to people who are not members of that private list.
Note: the other side of respecting the private lists is to use them only when necessary, and for for topics that require confidentiality, such as information that deals with security vulnerabilities, personnel matters, user private information, etc.
All of these guidelines are subject to sanity-testing. A person posting illegal material on any Apache.org or Apache OpenOffice list will be reported to the appropriate authorities and will not be able to complain that their list privacy has been violated. Ramping up to a release, there are a lot of postings at high frequency. Sometimes it unavoidably requires a long post to say what needs to be said.