Since this is a very important communication issue we will try to make it clear with a long example and with less formality.
Note:: This is true for many other developer communities. Specially in open-source environments where most communication tends to happen in public archived mailing lists that might be there for ever and that have to be read by many people.
There is no room for misunderstanding. As a bonus, you can also avoid saying "hello" and you can send very short messages as long as they are complete and enough to express what you need to say. They are reading a lot of text each day (either written by Humans or by computers) -- they in fact spend a lot of time reading text thus they appreciate brief messages.
Think of this email body, it could be perfect for an email you send with a patch:
By avoiding this call to break_alsa_settings ALSA does not break anymore. Tested in a GTA02/rev5.
You are better with this short message than with this one:
Hello there. While I was doing research on Animal Psychology at school I noticed my GTA02 couldn't reproduce exotic bird sounds. I undertook the task of trying to figure it out and fortunately I could do it. I will not share all the details here, but I have to tell you: It was hard. By the way, do you guys use Vim or Emacs? Mmm. Anyway, I didn't find anything useful about exotic birds on the Linux Kernel (I should be working on that someday) but a very pretty girlfriend of mine is an ALSA expert and she led me to the light. After all the pain I finally noticed that the method break_alsa_settings does not have to be called at all! Why in the world would one have to do that?! Thus I removed the culprit and guess what? I could reproduce exotic bird sounds again (and in fact I could reproduce any other sound). I baked a patch that I think solves this issue and I really was wondering whether you would like to apply it to the kernel. I will be waiting for your answer. My best wishes. PS: I tested in a GTA02/rev5. I wanted to test in a GTA01 as well but I cannot find it now. If I do, I'll send you people email later. Cheers.
You can embed small jokes whenever you want as long as they are not that distracting. If in doubt read the email archives and you'll notice a lot of them are already there. grep the Linux Kernel for swearwords. You'll find them. You can put nice jokes there also, you just have to write patches and get them accepted :-)
We did not have to figure this out. Since this is all about kernel development there's a document for that! Sorry, that's how people are in this area.
If you get the latest kernel sources, you will find a document that talks about this (Documentation/ManagementStyle) . A portion of the text (not necessarily the more relevant) is:
... Similarly, don't be too polite or subtle about things. Politeness easily ends up going overboard and hiding the problem, and as they say, "On the internet, nobody can hear you being subtle". Use a big blunt object to hammer the point in, because you can't really depend on people getting your point otherwise. Some humor can help pad both the bluntness and the moralizing. Going overboard to the point of being ridiculous can drive a point home without making it painful to the recipient, who just thinks you're being silly. It can thus help get through the personal mental block we all have about criticism. ...
All these opensource programmers are nicer in real person (if you don't interrupt them while they are programming). On the internet they might appear to be very rude, but in real life (whatever it is) things are very different specially over lunch or when sharing a beer.