Finding a Community
(Even if You're not a
Community Manager, PC-BSD Project
This presentation will discuss:
Benefits to Contributing
Finding a Best-Fit Community
Reducing Barriers to Contributions
Gain experience you can add to your
Learn how to use industry tools in large,
collaborative, non-lab environments
Learn hard and soft skills
Learn from others in your spare time
Meet people from all over the world who are
interested in your industry
Benefit from the experience of other
community members (many who are
famous and have written cool stuff)
When it comes to landing a job, it really is
about "who you know"
It is possible to build a name for yourself
and become an authority on topic XYZ
One way to break the glass ceiling as you
become known for what you do, not what
you look like
Savvy employers Google potential hires—
will they find you?
Finding the Best-fit
A little research in the beginning may save
you wasted time later: create a project
Look for opportunites that match your
A technical fit is not necessarily the best-fit
Shop around and don't feel the need to stay
(or give up entirely) if the fit isn't working
Does the code base support the language(s)
you are interested in?
Is there a bugs database?
Is there a published style guide?
Are there opportunities to be mentored by
more senior members? to earn a “commit
Best-fit: Technical Writing
Does the project have a documentation
team? Does it have any documentation?
How steep is the learning curve for the tools
used to manage documentation?
How open is the project to publishing or
linking to technical blogs, how-tos,
interviews, articles, whitepapers, etc.?
Does the project have a UI design team?
Are requests for UI improvements taken
seriously or ignored?
Does the website need a design revamp?
Does the project have a logo or recognized
Every project needs help in this area!
You could create brochures, arrange events
and contests, administer research surveys,
perform datamining, maintain a news feed
or blog roll, create ads for ezines, etc.
Research the Project's communication
Are you comfortable using the available
Are you comfortable with their tone? Lurk
for a while or skim the archives.
Look for opportunity:
Does the Project need assistance in areas
that match your goals?
Does it publish a wish or TO DO list?
Is it easy to contribute or are there barriers
Weigh your options:
Every Project contains individual
personalities (including yours)
Every Project is different in tone,
communication channels, available
resources, technical skills, etc.
No project is perfect
Jump in and start doing something:
Find and engage in a communication
Join a local user group
Attend a conference or local user group
Be smart about it:
Learn the rules of Netiquette
Read the Project's FAQs
Treat others how you want to be treated
If noone responds to your communications?
Don't be impatient and just leave
Check your question
Try another communication channel
Over time, notice patterns
If you start a flame war?
Apologize once, then stay out of it
Don't do whatever it was you did again
If you encounter elitism, sexism, racism, or
some other nasty-ism?
Don't pretend it didn't happen
Privately bring it to the attention of a leader
in the Project (and note their response)
Publish a “how you can help” list
prominently on the Project website
“Groom” people on IRC and forums: help
them write a good bug report, encourage
them to publish a how-to, blog their
experience, tweet what is happening
Address inappropriate behaviour that
occurs on communication channels
Use recognized tools and include “getting
started” guides to reduce learning curve
Hold regular code/doc/idea-athons
Organize face-to-face events: local user
groups, unconferences, participation in
global events such as SFD
Acknowledge contributions! e.g. don't let
patches rot in a queue
Pair new contributors with community
Think beyond the codebase!
After all, open source is about community...
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