Photo by Don Toye.

As most everyone knows, the Ruby on Rails community is relatively small. The number of Rails developers (folks who are using the framework professionally more or less full-time) that we keep track of is just under 10,000 (up from 700 in late 2006). To put this in perspective, our entire world is about the size of a large Ivy’s undergrad enrollment (somewhere between Columbia and Penn, specifically).

If you picked any 5 of these Rails developers out of a hat (or our database) there’s a pretty decent chance that a few of them know each other, and almost a certainty that some have heard of each other. Six degrees of separation doesn’t apply to the Rails community… it’s more like 2.

Although the Rails world is growing (quickly), it remains a relatively tight-knit group of developers bound together by a desire to make web development easier, quicker, and simply better. We love being part of the community and part of what we love about it is its size.

Although we might not know everyone, most developers and Rails shops have either worked with us or been on our radar over the last few years. And we’ve worked with the same people in different roles. We’ve helped employers hire for their startups, and then helped them find a new gig when their company shut down. We’ve placed developers who later move on to start their own organization and ask for our help to scale the team. Rails developers move around pretty frequently and often run into people they’ve worked with in the past under a different role; employer, employee, or client.

The point of all this? Be nice. Don’t be a jerk. And don’t burn bridges. It will come back to haunt you.

So don’t write a blog post blasting that guy who gave a talk at RubyConf that you thought was less-than-mediocre. Guess what? He may be your coworker someday. Or your boss/employee/client/etc. And his skills will have likely improved in the interim.

We’re all for being honest and having good-natured debates to push the future of Ruby and Rails forward. What we’re not for is being a jerk for the sake of it. It’s a small, generally nice, friendly, and supportive Ruby on Rails world. After all, isn’t the openness and collaboration of Rails part of what makes this community so cool? Let’s keep it that way.

Who’s with us?