Communicating in written form is hard anyway, and our Open Source circles add the additional hurdle of different cultural backgrounds and sensitivities.
Irony doesn't work. Jokes don't work. People get offended for no reason. They don't get what you're saying. Or they get it all wrong. Misunderstandings and conflicts are just around the corner, although we think we do our best to be efficient, fun and entertaining when talking to our project communities.
The problem is that our cultural backgrounds get in the way and shape the way we perceive many of the subtle nuances of human communication. Puzzled (or horrified) faces can help steer face-to-face conversations the right way, but we don't have this luxury in the asynchronous written communications which are the norm in Open Development.
Based on 17 years of experience in many projects of the Apache Software Foundation, our concrete examples of fun anecdotes, unnerving communication mishaps and nuclear-level conflicts (almost) will help us avoid common pitfalls and have happier and more efficient conversations in multi-cultural environments.