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AnsibleFest 2017’s Code of Conduct as a Metaphor for DevOps

The Ansible community requires everyone to be nice to each other, to be empathetic, and to be kind. This is best evidenced by the Ansible Code of Conduct for events. One excerpt: “Ansible is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, ethnicity, religion, or experience level. We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form.” Violation of these requirements can result in expulsion or sanction from the conference organizers.

Held last week in San Francisco, AnsibleFest 2017 was an extremely collegial conference. The influence of Ansible’s code of conduct was everywhere. It was in their email notifications before the conference, at registration, at the booth to get your t-shirts, and even discussed at length during the introduction. By extension, this Ansible code of conduct provides a helpful outline of the ways we should act toward each other in all situations, not just at DevOps-focused conferences. These are human truths that are considered self-evident in the DevOps community. DevOps’ DNA of teamwork requires that community members treat each other with respect and empathy. The Ansible community asks “that you treat your fellow community members with respect and courtesy, and in general, Don’t Be A Jerk.”

Ansible’s community information and contributing page provides additional insight into their intent. It specifically states that community members should be:

  • Considerate
  • Patient
  • Respectful
  • Kind
  • Inquisitive
  • Helpful


Without too much of a stretch, these requirements remind me of the identified characteristics of the Brahmavihāras, which are also known as the “four immeasurables." They are:

1.    Loving-kindness toward all: The hope that a person will be well; “the wish that all sentient beings, without any exception, be happy.”

2.    Compassion: The hope that a person’s sufferings will diminish; “the wish for all sentient beings to be free from suffering.”

3.    Empathetic joy: Joy in the accomplishments of a person—oneself or another; sympathetic joy; “the wholesome attitude of rejoicing in the happiness and virtues of all sentient beings.”

4.    Equanimity: Learning to accept loss and gain, good-repute and ill-repute, praise and censure, sorrow and happiness (Attha Loka Dhamma), all with detachment, equally, for oneself and for others. Equanimity is “not to distinguish between friend, enemy or stranger, but regard every sentient being as equal. It is a clear-minded tranquil state of mind—not being overpowered by delusions, mental dullness or agitation.”

A team will not function well if even one person puts themselves above the group’s objectives. When assembling a DevOps team, it is important to evaluate an applicant’s teamwork abilities. It could be cancerous and ruinous if a bad egg slips through the cracks and joins a high-performing DevOps team.

But how can you analyze someone to see if they’ll make a good team member? Ask them about the breadth and depth of their team-based experience. I played American Football for eight years. I played on winning and losing teams, and believe that this experience has given me a fundamental understanding of what it means to be a good teammate. I believe I understand teamwork at its most elemental level. My role as an F5 Networks Senior Product Management Engineer is to be a servant leader to my colleagues and customers. I could also describe my role as a coach. My coaching style comes directly from my own personal experiences of being coached. To be a good DevOps community member, you need to be a good player/coach.

AnsibleFest and DevOps in general can parallel the principles of the Brahmavihara. Treating others in the community as equals and with respect is not an option; it is a requirement. Being a good teammate also mandates it. In the DevOps world, kindness and teamwork are rewarded both intrinsically and extrinsically. If, for whatever reason, you are a person who has struggled getting along with others, now is the time to fix it. Take the present opportunity to get better at teamwork by joining team-based organizations and activities. The dividends will be tremendous.

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