Confessions of a Community ManagerDru LavigneCommunity Manager, PC-BSD ProjectSCALE 2011
This presentation will explore:What is a Community Manager?Is my open source project ready for a C.M.?What benefits can a C.M. provide?What exactly does a C.M. do?What pitfalls can the C.M. expect?
DisclaimerThis presentation is based on myexperience and observationsEvery community is different (size, culture,values, goals, personalities)YMWV (your mileage will vary)
What is a Community Manager?One definition:1. Community Advocate2. Brand Evangelist3. Savvy Communication Skills4. Gathers Community Inputhttp://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2007/11/25/the-four-tenets-of-the-community-manager/
Is my open source project ready for a community manager?Consider your projects size, maturity level,diversity of roles, and organizationalstructure.
Organizational StructureWhat type of software is created and who isthe intended audience?What is the relationship betweendevelopers and non-developers? Or are theusers of the product primarily developers?What is the ratio between contributors andnon-contributors? Is the communitysatisfied with that ratio or does it have agoal to increase contributions?
Organizational StructureIs there an associated foundation, academicinstitution, non-profit organization, orcompany that supports the project? If not,are there any similar projects orassociations the project can partner with?Or is it a company wanting to open source aproduct in order to create or work moreclosely with an existing community?
Funding RelationshipAre any community members currently paidto work on the project? (e.g. through theiremployer, academic funding, a foundation)What is the cultural attitude towards beingpaid to work on the project?Are any sources of funding available or willthis be a voluntary position? If voluntary,consider a team approach.
What benefits can a community manager provide to the community?In other words, why bother having one?
Increased ExposurePerception that Community Managers areassociated with “mature” projects that havestood the test of timeObvious point of contact for media requestsand interviewsProvides an(other) “official” spokespersonfor the project
Better Use of ResourcesLet project members concentrate on whattheyre good at: e.g. let developers writecode rather than spend time answeringquestions, doing interviews, etc.Make sure answers are technically correctand meet cultural tone/standards ofcommunity
LiaisonPoint new community members to thecorrect resources (documentation andpeople)Keep developers aware of users needs andusers of developers progress and restraintsInteract with other communities to promotebeneficial relationshipsPromote the project outside the community
Pursue OpportunitiesAn amazing amount of stuff can fall throughthe cracks: new users who leave, missedcontributions, unanswered questions,unimplemented features, etc.A Community Manager provides focus: whatdoes our community need? how can wemake things easier so stuff gets done? howcan we get more people involved so thatthe community grows and remains vibrant?
What exactly does a community manager do?Exact duties depend upon the projectsneeds, goals, and priorities. Rest assuredthat this is definitely a full time job, andthen some. A Community Managers to-dolist will take on a life of its own. If this is avoluntary position, consider creating a teamto prevent burnout.
Social MediaBlog daily as this is your projects lifeline tothe community and the world at large. Theblog lets readers know what the project isup to, what software needs testing, howreaders can contribute, etc. Respond to allblog comments in a timely fashion.Make sure the project has an officialFacebook group, twitter account, etc. andthat blog postings automatically get postedto these outlets.
Communication ChannelsReview existing channels to see if theymeet the needs of the community(developers and users)Subscribe to communitys mailing lists andforums and lurk on IRC channels with thegoal of pointing people in the right directionand making sure stuff gets addressed (or atleast answered) in a timely fashion
Event PlanningArrange interviews and press releasesArrange representation at conferences andother events; encourage communitymembers to respond to CFPsApply for Summer of Code and similarbounty opportunitiesArrange bugbusters, doc-athons, codesprints
Motivate UsersEncourage new contributions (e.g. walksomeone through their first bug report)Address documentation gaps (coding style,how to contribute, tasks lists)Look for ways to reduce contribution curveRecognize new contributions and championnew contributors
What pitfalls can the communitymanager expect to encounter?
ResistanceBe prepared for initial skepticism--startplowing through your to-do list, at somepoint most will get that you are for realand are an asset to the communitySome people will never forgive you forgetting paid--youll need a thick skin towade through resentment
StrangerDont hire a stranger: a well respected community member will meet less resistance than a well qualified person hired from outside the community Finding the best person for the job can be more difficult for a company starting an open source project--if possible, choose someone who has interacted with users in the past
Intended AudienceYou may be surprised to realize yourcommunitys actual audience does notmatch the original “itch”The communitys road map should allowfor course corrections
TransparencyBe honest in all of your communicationsNoone can be expected to do everything,know everything, catch everything--admitwhen you fail and work towards gettingother people to contribute (e.g. aim to makeyour position obsolete)
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