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Building Vibrant Open Source Communities

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Building Vibrant Open Source Communities

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