Community News

Crafting an Open Source Product Strategy

chess "Should we open source this project?" An easy question to ask, and a hard one to answer. The goal of this article is not to answer the question, but maybe to give some tools that you can use to find the answer when the question arises.

The first question to ask is why the project leader is interested in open source in the first place. Typical answers might include "because we want a community" or "because we want to be the Firefox of our field." But when you dig deeper, there may not be a clear understanding of how an open source project can benefit your company's goals.

The creation of an open source strategy is about finding that benefit. In short, you want to understand why open sourcing this project will benefit the company.

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Staffing the Conference Booth

FOSDEM 2018 Booth This morning, I was asked to give a few tips about staffing a booth at a technology conference—or, indeed, any conference. This got me thinking—there's things that I do at a conference that come out of years and years of experience doing it wrong, and then tweaking it the next time.

I've been to a lot of conferences. And I've spent hundreds of hours staffing the booth.

To skip to the punchline, everything flows out of deciding what the conference is for. If you know what you hope to get out of the event, everything else flows out of that.

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Communication as a Roadblock?

tin can over IP It's a bit like the turning of the leaves, or the return of the swallows at Capistrano. Invariably, the wheel of community management will always slog back to the the topic of "which is the best communications platform for my users?"

In the past, and for the most part in the present and future, the answer is usually something along the lines of "whatever your community prefers." If you have a community that does most of its communication on a mailing list and communications are active and vibrant, why change what works?

But is this don't-rock-the-boat attitude potentially keeping some new community members away?

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Night of the Living FUD

FUD scoop It was one of those moments where you weren't quite sure you heard something right.

It was day-whatever of the Supercomputing Asia conference in Singapore, and I was halfway listening to one of the speakers explain his company's advances in deep learning and artificial intelligence. "Halfway" because the material of this particular talk was soon way, way over my head and on my laptop I was trying to figure out why Travis seemed to be borking on the update pull requests for the new Red Hat on GitHub site.

But I snapped back into the room when I thought I heard what sounded like a full-tilt FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) rant about open source. I glanced at my colleague Rich Bowen, also in attendance, and he was shaking his head.

Yep, it was FUD all right. Suddenly, it was 2000 all over again.

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A Community Manager's Sorting Hat

sorting hat Previously, we talked about Project Management, Gantt Charts, and Communities—let's take a look at the other hats a community manager wears and vice versa. Sometimes your job description within the company or project will differ but you'll still be known as the community manager because it's a more established title.

On the other hand, there is a lot of connotation around the title of a community manager, especially in tech. If you cannot prove a significant amount of contributions that developers value, you will quickly be disregarded as "the marketing person" (often accompanied with some eye rolling).

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Box. Outside. Think.

Empty Box A friend of mine recently had to go to the cardiologist to figure out what was what with a racing heartbeat. The cardiologist looked at my friend's current history, including all the current prescriptions my friend was taking… and promptly added one more medication—a beta blocker—to the list.

When my dismayed friend related this to me, I drew upon the wisdom of the old and replied "a cardiologist is like someone with a hammer… they're always looking for a nail to hit." She's getting a second opinion… a perhaps a less cliché friend.

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Project Management, Gantt Charts, and Communities

community Being a project manager in your community is an important part of any community lead role. Your job as a community manager is to help feed and water the community, and when I’m asked about how to describe my job, it’s usually "everything that isn’t code is part of my problem." My role is to help guide and catalyze the community to grow beyond where it is now, and for that, you’re going to need some project management skills.

As a project manager, some of your skills include managing information to a wider team, communicating throughout all aspects of the project, managing budgets and generally being the person who knows where the project is at any time. As a community manager, you’ll need a lot of the same skill sets.

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Celebrating 25 Years of Red Hat and Open

Red Hat logo Twenty-five years ago today, Red Hat got its start. A quarter century of creating and supporting world-class software is a pretty big deal for us, and we wanted to celebrate the occasion by demonstrating just how far and wide Red Hat as a company participates in free and open source software!

It is a great pleasure, then, to announce the launch of Red Hat's new GitHub organization page. The page will try to list every known free and open source project hosted on GitHub in which Red Hat staffers directly participate as part of their work. As you can see, it's gotten off to a good start.

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Perusing OSAS' Menu of Services

menu options As Red Hat's community portfolio grows, the Open Source and Standards (OSAS) team needs to shift our approach to supporting their needs. To accomplish this, the OSAS Community Outreach team will be shifting to a consultancy-style approach.

The idea for this new approach was formed a couple of years ago, when Brian Proffitt, Jason Brooks, and I were in a chocolate store down the street from the Red Hat corporate headquarters in Raleigh, brainstorming on ways we could expand the OSAS footprint.

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Welcome to the Neighborhood

new neighbors It is an easy metaphor to fall into: we compare the communities that surround our free and open source projects to the actual communities in which we reside. For the most part, the metaphor works really well. I myself have used the metaphor to describe things like server and IT infrastructure to streets, water lines, or power grids. Governance of open source communities to the way different neighborhoods, towns, and cities govern themselves.

Making this comparison is not, after all, rocket science.

But there is one aspect to the communities-as-communities metaphor that breaks down, because should be no comparison: the way communities enfold newcomers into their midst.

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