LibreOffice Developer Guide

How to Interact with the development community

Communication with the Development Community

There are multiple ways of communication within the project. IRC and the Mailing List are the two main ones. If you are already familiar with both media and their typical uses in the context of an Open Source project, all you need to know is that the main dev IRC channel is #libreoffice-dev on Freenode and the dev mailing is is at You can skip the rest of this chapter which will aim at giving basic net-etiquette advice for those of you that are not that familiar with these mode of communications.


The main channel related to libreoffice development is #libreoffice-dev on Freenode. There are plenty of IRC clients out there, if you do not have a favorite yet, google them and try a few of them. We will concentrate here on few advice to make your IRC experience more effective and pleasant.

Most of the content of this section is borrowed from this excellent page on the topic.

#1 Do not ask to ask

When in the IRC channel, do not ask permission to ask or solicit blanket help, like “Can I ask a Question?” or “Can someone help me?”. Just ask the specific question you have, if someone knows the answer and is willing to respond, he will. Asking what we call 'meta-question' is perceived like a bait, asking people to volunteer for an unspecified task. Such meta-questions are typically ignored or someone will tell you to 'not ask to ask'.

#2 Do not /msg people without asking, do not spam-ping

It is common on IRC to set-up one's client so that you get a special visual or audible notification when your nick name shows up in the chat. That is why you will see on occasion “ping <nickname_of_someone>” on the channel. that is a way to attract the attention of that someone. It is very impolite to randomly ping people, based on the list of connected user to the channel, to solicit attention. Even worse it to start a private message channel via /msg for the same purpose.

#3 Be precise

Express your question with enough details so that someone who is not you and does not have the benefit of seeing what you are doing and what your screen looks like can have an idea of what you are referring to. The 'I tried to build, but it did not work' statement is useless. You need to tell what you were trying to accomplish, give some specific informations about your environment (OS version, etc..), what you saw that made you think that 'did not work', any error, warning message, any feedback from the computer as to what happened ? Importantly, see #4 about how to communicates these informations.

#4 Do not flood the channel, use a pastebin

Sometime to provide the necessary informations you need to show a substantial amount of data. Do NOT cut and paste all that in the channel, that is called 'flooding' and will get you kicked out faster than you can Ctrl-V a second time. For anything that does not fit in one line or two, use a pastebin service. Pastebins are public services (web sites) where you can paste your text and everybody can access them as a URL. Just paste your contents there and send the URL into the channel. Provide some context to it, to explain what this is about, unless that is a direct reply to a request for information by someone else in the channel, in which case you can just put the nickname of the person you are responding to and the link.

#5 Be patient

Give people time to answer. Sometimes you may get an answer in seconds, sometime it can take a while. Bear in mind that the world is a big place with 24 hours worth of time zones. A good chunk of the world may be sleeping while you ask your question. Ask your question and stay connected, sometimes someone who knows the answer will only notice your question a hour or more later… leave your irc connected to maximize your chances. If really no one is picking up on your question —it may be a slow day, or no-one feels up to the challenge— you can fall back to the Mailing list, that will have the eyes of a different set of people, and more visibility overall.

#6 Do Not Repeat yourself, do not nag/topic

Asking the same question repeatedly in short interval is not going to get you an answer faster, quite the contrary.

#7 Read the /topic

The IRC channel as a "topic", which is a line or two of message that describe the channel purpose and give some tips and links. Asking something that is answered already in the topic is a sure way to get ignored.

#8 Don't get offended

IRC communication can be terse, add to that the fact that English is not the native language of most people on the channel, that they are of all age and cultural background.. so it is easy to take a message the wrong way. Don't. In almost all case that was not intended, and if it was, it is still better to ignore the bait and not escalate things.