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Building Vibrant Open Source Communities
 

Building Vibrant Open Source Communities

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I delivered this presentation in March at an SDForum event, where I was privileged to share the stage with Fabrizio from Funambol.

I delivered this presentation in March at an SDForum event, where I was privileged to share the stage with Fabrizio from Funambol.

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    Building Vibrant Open Source Communities Building Vibrant Open Source Communities Presentation Transcript

    • Building Vibrant and Sustainable Communities John Mark Walker openCollabNet Community Manager October 16, 2008
    • Building Communities
      • What is community building?
        • Building relationships with a critical mass of people such that these relationships may be leveraged for current and future business
      • Community development == business development for the 21st century
        • Your success now lies in the hands of people with a non-binding relationship to your business
        • How do you keep them engaged while attracting more to your community?
    • Community Best Practices
      • Lose the fear
        • Don't be afraid of a phenomenally successful community or project
        • Commonly heard (mistaken) phrases:
          • “But it will cannibalize our sales!”
          • “Our #1 competitor is our Open Source product”
        • Factor in the risk and go with it
          • Majority will happily use free product and never pay for it
          • While they may not buy from you, they're also not buying from your competitors
      • How do you attract a mass audience to your free project and still maintain a lucrative sales pipeline?
    • Community Best Practices
      • A: Don't be afraid to let your community develop its own identity
        • Lifetime community user will be different from your enterprise buyer
          • Will expect a more flexible, “hackable” product
          • Do not like to be forced into a particular approach
        • Bottom line: Community product will differ from enterprise product
          • This is an opportunity!
      • What's the biggest mistake companies make when differentiating between free and something to sell?
    • Community Worst Practices
      • Let's Design Our Project to Fail!
        • Boxing in your free product as a lesser competitor will ensure that it stays that way
        • It's a self-limiting, self-fulfilling prophecy
      Free product Enterprise Product
    • Community Best Practices
      • What to do Instead?
        • Your community is where new things should be attempted
        • Your community is not the place to design all facets of a product by PRD
      • “Total Innovation Opportunity”
        • Maximizing of innovation points around your product offerings
        • Must increase the variety of people using your software
          • cross-section of users, developers, tinkerers, etc.
    • Community Best Practices
      • “Total Innovation Opportunity” continued
        • Maximize the points where your community participates in your project and product design
        • Different types of users will touch the product at different stages
          • A hacker / tinkerer / hobbyist might prefer a lighter-weight product in a less developed state
          • A sysadmin can make do with a product that works but requires some manual labor
          • Typical end user will want something that “just works”
          • Product development must capture feedback at each stage
          • All users will be capable of producing documentation
    • Feedback Loops
      • Feedback Loops
        • Tinkerers should be engaged with your engineering team
          • Do you have the mechanisms in place to allow for that?
          • Do you have projects of interest for them?
        • Sysadmins can engage with your developers, product management and QA
          • Are there adequate paths of communication between them?
        • End users can provide valuable feedback for QA and technical writers
      • So now what does our product visual look like?
    • Community Best Practices
      • Side projects in the
      • open
      • Freewheeling
      • community
      • Solid enterprise
      • product
      Enterprise Product Free Product Experimental UI New, open API
    • Community Best Practices
      • Total Innovation Opportunity
        • New feature experimentation should happen in the community, where you can afford to make mistakes
        • Side projects can also take place in the community
          • May develop into product features, or not
        • Development should happen at a faster pace in the community
          • Corollary: development should happen at a much slower pace for your enterprise products
      • How do you identify which community participants fill which role?
        • Much of it will happen without your interference
        • However, demand generation does help – Eloqua, Loopfuse
    • Community Best Practices
      • That's great, but how do I get more people involved?
      • Be a part of the conversation!
      • aka, The Community Development Long Tail
        • Engage with outside groups
        • Recruit internally those with a voice (or can develop one)
        • Don't worry about strict adherence to corporate messaging
    • Community Development Long Tail
      • Where and How should I reach out to other groups?
        • Outside groups can be broken into 3 basic tiers
      Tier 1: Groups with obvious connections - Partner companies, relevant consortia Tier 2: Groups with less obvious connections - Educational orgs, community-driven projects Tier 3: Find some common interests among your community members and invest in them
    • Community Development Long Tail
      • Tier 1 Groups
        • Most obvious and should receive the most focus
        • Should justify each example with tangible business opportunity
      • Tier 2 Groups
        • Community-driven projects related to your technology
          • May be a quasi-competitor
        • Educational organizations with a technical focus
        • Might be able to justify each example with future business opportunities
      • Tier 3 Groups
        • Driven by common interests of your community
          • Social causes, eg. political or charitable orgs
    • Community Development Long Tail
      • Rules of Engagement
        • Identify strategic groups within each tier
        • Within your organization find those who can express themselves
        • Engage in conversations in and around strategic groups
          • Blogs, social networking, community web sites
        • Sponsor events and groups as resources allow
      • Messaging is so 20th century
        • Not all conversations are going to adhere to your messaging
          • You need to be flexible, within limits
        • Train messengers in basics, and then turn them loose
    • Community Best Practices Enterprise Product Free Product Experimental UI New, open API Pol. org Char. org
    • Community Best Practices - Examples
      • Red Hat Software
        • Has successful enterprise product - RHEL
        • Has successful, growing community with its own identity – Fedora
          • Community product differs substantially from enterprise
        • Invests in social causes – OLPC, FSF
        • Leverages community value into $$$
      • But Red Hat is not my favorite example...
    • Community Best Practices - Examples
      • My favorite example – Google
        • Google's Open Source Program Office is a model to be emulated by tier 1 vendors
        • Google invests in many social causes
        • Invests in many communities, whether there is a direct relationship or not
          • Google Summer of Code
        • Community experience very different from their premium product
        • Net effect: developers around the world ready to pounce on initiatives like Open Social, Android, etc.
        • Net effect2: Google gets a pass for some PR miscues
          • Some press attention may be negative, but “people on the ground” very much revere Google
    • Community Best Practices
      • Potential pitfalls
        • Product differentiation is good, but don't go too far
          • Community users need a convenient path to enterprise
          • If you want people to buy from you, must give them a compelling reason
        • Don't over-invest in tier 2 or tier 3 community efforts
        • If your product doesn't give people value, they're not going to join your community
        • “Loose lips sink ships”
          • turning people loose on blogs is great, but make sure they have adequate training on what is and is not acceptable
    • Community Best Practices
      • Key Takeaways:
        • Creating an Open Source product means creating a different product, not just a downsized version of what you sell.
        • You must create an emotional tie-in between you and your community
    • Thank You Contact Info: [email_address] http://twitter.com/johnmark http://collab.net/community http://tinosc.blogspot.com