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Building Community for your Company’s OSS Project


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Your company has just started an open source project, but where is the community? This talk provides practical tips and suggestions along with what not to do when building a community around your company’s open source project.

Building a community around your company’s open source project is no easy task, and there is no magic bullet or one size fits all solution. However, there are some things that you can do (or not do) to increase the chances of successfully building a community for your project.

A few of the dos and don’ts covered in this talk include:

Planning and product management: Do use a transparent process in the open with tools that allow anyone to participate. Don’t use your internal tools and private meetings to make all of the decisions.
Encourage participation: Do be proactive about helping community members contribute in meaningful ways. Don’t inadvertently set the expectation that employees will be the ones always answering questions and making decisions.
Be honest: Do be honest with yourselves about where and how you prefer to have community members contribute. Don’t encourage people to contribute in areas where you are less likely to accept outside contributions.
Managing contributions: Do have enough people trained in how to provide constructive feedback to manage the flow of incoming community contributions. Don’t assume that your existing developers have the time and skills to magically perform this difficult function.
The audience will walk away with practical advice about building communities for corporate open source projects.

Published in: Software
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Building Community for your Company’s OSS Project

  1. 1. Building Community for your Company’s OSS Projects Dawn M. Foster Open Source Strategy at Pivotal, now part of VMware FOSDEM Community Devroom, February 2020 @geekygirldawn
  2. 2. • Geek, traveler, reader • 20+ year tech career focused on community & open source 
 (Intel, Puppet Labs, Scale Factory, etc.) • PhD from the University of Greenwich focus on Linux kernel collaboration • Kubernetes contributor • OpenUK Board, CHAOSS Governing Board and Maintainer, Bitergia Advisory Board Photos by Josh Bancroft, Don Park whoami
  3. 3. @geekygirldawn The Problem is Hard Communities are made of squishy humans 🤔
  4. 4. @geekygirldawn Types of OSS Projects Grassroots Ecosystem Company Photo by David Jakes - CC BY 2.0
  5. 5. @geekygirldawn Why Open Source? Open source for innovation and adoption Photo by C. Watts CC BY 2.0
  6. 6. @geekygirldawn Transparency Use public channels Photo by magpietales CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
  7. 7. @geekygirldawn Governance Transparent decision-making and a path to leadership Photo by Allen and Allen - CC BY 2.0
  8. 8. @geekygirldawn Be Honest With yourselves and with the community Photo by Amanda Slater - CC BY-SA 2.0
  9. 9. @geekygirldawn Remove Barriers To CLA, or not to CLA, that is the question Photo by Kate Ter Haar - CC BY 2.0
  10. 10. @geekygirldawn Licenses Can have a big impact on participation Photo by Allen and Allan - CC BY 2.0
  11. 11. @geekygirldawn Encourage Participation Be proactive, but leave space for others to contribute
  12. 12. @geekygirldawn Recruit Companies Existing relationships and partners Photo by Jan Fidler - CC BY 2.0
  13. 13. @geekygirldawn Planning and Product Management Feature planning in the open can be difficult Photo by Natalio - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
  14. 14. @geekygirldawn Managing Contributions Feedback requires time and skills Image by Tomomi - CC BY 2.0
  15. 15. @geekygirldawn Resources • Linux Foundation’s TODO Group • GitHub • Red Hat’s Photo by Abhi Sharma - CC BY 2.0
  16. 16. Thank You and Questions Dawn M. Foster @geekygirldawn