Anthropologist Edward T. Hall (not related) identified the "context preferences" of different cultures, describing high- and low-context cultures. In his 1976 book, Beyond Culture, Hall described the different communication styles of low- and high-context communicators. This difference is why, for example, German and English speakers interact differently with each other.
I don't mean to reduce entire cultures to a simple scale, but understanding the general communication preferences of different cultures can help you in any open source project that involves worldwide contributors. A brief introduction:
Hall's cultural factors says low-context cultures are more direct, and high-context cultures more indirect. A low-context communicator will get right to the point, while a low-context communicator prefers explicit messages that are simple and clear.
For example, in a high-context culture, communication will be very indirect, sometimes nonverbal. High-context cultures may hide reactions; you may not realize if you've offended someone because it would be rude to react and risk embarrassing you. It may take a very long time for a high-context speaker to get to the point. Japan and China are typical examples of a high-context culture.
Where do you fit on the cultural context? Germany and the Netherlands are typically low-context, China and Japan are high-context. Italy and France are somewhere in the middle. The US and England skew towards the low-context end, at about the one-quarter mark.
In a personal example: I'm in the US. At that one-quarter mark, we are mostly low-context, but we share some high-context qualities. We appreciate that you are on time, but we don't worry if you're a few minutes late. We speak openly about what's on our minds, but we're cautious not to embarrass or offend. We are organized, but not strictly so. We get to the point, but also use "phatic language" and talk about the weather or sports as a way to "ease into" a conversation.
Of course, these are cultural averages. While the US overall skews to low-context on average, you can find examples within the US that deviate somewhat. New York is probably lower context than, say, Minnesota. And you may find differences within industries. I find higher education to be higher context than industry. But as a national average, the US is around that one-quarter mark, trending to low-context.
After I learned about high- and low-context cultures, I adjusted my email style to my audience. Am I writing to someone from a high-context culture? I'll try to reference our relationship and include more background in my email. Are you from a low-context culture? I'll be more direct, and aim for the clearest delivery in the shortest message. If you need more from me, I'll assume you will reply and ask for details. For low-context cultures, my mantra in writing emails is 1. write message, 2. delete most of it, 3. click Send.
I encourage you to learn more about Hall's cultural factors. How does your organization communicate? How do others in your field work together? While the US tends to be lower context, at about that one-quarter mark, some regional and professional variances mean you may need to adapt your personal style to suit the environment you work in. Understand how best to communicate, so your message will be heard.
images: mine (Feb 2016)