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The Value of Open Source Communities

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Presented by David Smith, R Community Lead (Microsoft), at Monktoberfest October 2016.

The value of open source isn’t just in the software itself. The communities that form around open source software provide just as much value and sometimes even more: in ongoing development, in documentation, in support, in marketing, and as a supply of ready-trained employees. Companies who build on open source tend to focus on the software, but neglect communities at their peril.

In this talk, I share some of my experiences in building community for an open-source software company, Revolution Analytics, and perspectives since the acquisition by Microsoft in 2015.

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The Value of Open Source Communities

  1. 1. The Value of Open Source Communities David Smith @revodavid davidsmi@microsoft.com R Community Lead, Microsoft
  2. 2. New York Times, June 25 2009 (3 hours after Michael Jackson’s death)
  3. 3. Language Popularity IEEE Spectrum Top Programming Languages, 2016
  4. 4. Working with the R Foundation Supporting the R user community Continuing the growth of the R Project Linux Foundation collaborative project Non-profit trade organization
  5. 5. April 6, 2015
  6. 6. 10 Transformations to a Community Mindset Fixed  Community Mindset Transformations Fixed Mindset Community Mindset 1 Waits for communities to form Accelerates new community growth (recruiting) 2 Engages friendly communities first Engages the most impactful communities 3 Goes in with an agenda to push Focus on enabling their success. 4 Begins engagement after “enough” members have joined Starts engagement when the community is launched 5 Works within the limitations of the community leader Invests in helping to better the community leader 6 Stays away from communities with competitive sponsors Engages and connects the best sponsors to the community 7 Abandons the community when the leader/group gets “burned out” Sources co-leaders for the community and evolves the community to the next related technology 8 Makes community engagement “everyone’s job” but no one’s direct responsibility Establishes a single “go to” resource accountable for community success 9 Engages randomly and opportunistically Agrees to a community engagement plan with the leader 10 Measures presentation numbers Measures community satisfaction & share (agendas, groups) growth
  7. 7. Community-Building Tips Be human Tell stories and promote heroes Listen, and show you’ve heard Earn trust, have trust Nurture the grass-roots Enhance the value of the ecosystem Further reading: The Art of Community – Jono Bacon
  8. 8. The Value of Open Source Communities David Smith @revodavid davidsmi@microsoft.com R Community Lead, Microsoft
  9. 9. 16 The Value of Open Source Communities The value of open source isn’t just in the software itself. The communities that form around open source software provide just as much value and sometimes even more: in ongoing development, in documentation, in support, in marketing, and as a supply of ready-trained employees. Companies who build on open source tend to focus on the software, but neglect communities at their peril. In this talk, I’ll share some of my experiences in building community for an open-source software company, Revolution Analytics, and perspectives since the acquisition by Microsoft in 2015. David Smith is the R Community Lead at Microsoft. With a background in data science, he writes daily about applications of R and predictive analytics at the Revolutions blog (blog.revolutionanalytics.com), and is a co-author of “Introduction to R”, the R manual. Follow David on Twitter as @revodavid

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