Community News

Onboarding New Contributors in the Fedora Project

fedora Fedora is a community with a lot of moving parts and has at least five different ways of thinking about new contributor onboarding. Unlike some single code-base communities where there is a focus around a repository or a bug tracker, Fedora is constantly working on lots of things and the linkages can be hard to see. Some of those activities are directly (in a creation sense) related to the amazing Linux distribution we produce.

These activities, like Release Engineering, must happen or no bits get shipped. Other activities are critical to the experience of Fedora, like Design. Without these activities we might as well not ship. Some activities, like a lot of the work done by Fedora Infrastructure, are critical to providing the tools and glue we need to get our work done.

Onboarding is much on the mind of communities of late, thanks to Stormy Peters' prompt on how community works at opensource.com. Go read it, as it inspired this post and will contain lots of great information in the roundup post later this week.

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Community is Messy

messy There is an adage in the wide world that goes something like this: "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans."

A less faith-oriented version of that line of thought breaks down to "Life Happens." Which all means that no matter how well we prepare the structure and flow of our daily lives, chaos and random chance can always cast such plans aside and potentially damage all we have built, sometimes irreparably.

Communities are no less immune to this kind of ill fortune than any one person. Even with the best intentions, communities can become embroiled in conflict and strife that can burn like a brush fire through all of the great things you've accomplished.

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A Community of One

alone in a crowd One of the quirky aspects of "community" in the free and open source ecosystem is that, for many members of a given project, they are physically and geographically isolated. Using tools like git, mailing lists, and any number of messaging tools, developers, writers, and other community members can focus their efforts and do their work from any place on the planet with electricity and a connection to the Internet.

As someone who has worked from a home office for nearly 18 years, I can tell you, it has its advantages. I can set my own hours, create a comfortable office environment, and work on my own pace. There are, of course, disadvantages too. I have to self-motivate, be my own IT systems administrator, and deal with somewhat atrophied social skills.

In your community, you are often going to have people in exactly the same situation. Somewhere out in the world, working full- or part-time on your project, from their homes or schools or offices. Maybe there are other project members nearby, but often they are working alone, connected by electrons instead of photons. So how do you manage a community of dozens or hundreds, when many of the are alone?

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Focusing Your Community Message

laser prism During SCALE 15X last weekend in beautiful Pasadena, California, the Red Hat booth was visited by hundreds of attendees, all looking to find out more Red Hat and the projects with which it works.

Many times, the questions were specific: "what's the best platform for managing virtual machines?" Or "how does CentOS fit within the Red Hat universe?" In those instances, we had more than enough knowledge in the booth to get the right information to those folks. The more tricky conversations, though, were the ones where the questions were far less specific, including the dreaded "So what is Red Hat?"

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Overcoming Culture Clash Part IV--Getting Started Toward Cultural Diversity

differing communication styles In the last article, we finally went beyond theory to some practical tips on how to improve communication in your community. In this article, we get even more practical, offering some easy to follow tips which will make a material difference in your communities.

There are two concrete things—one piece of advice for both community developers and individuals seeking to join a community, and one piece of advice for community projects interested in encouraging greater geographical diversity. Each one has a number of consequences.

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Overcoming Culture Clash Part III--Improving Communication Style to Uncover Unstated Assumptions

differing communication styles In the preceding article, we covered the six dimensions of culture according to Geert Hofstede, and explored the consequences that these dimensions may have on people's cultural attitudes. In this article, we explore some more practical ways to uncover cultural assumptions through good communication.

Sociology theory is all well and good, but how can we apply this to interactions in our communities? Is it possible to apply Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory to real-life interactions in community projects?

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Overcoming Culture Clash Part II--Six Dimensions of Culture

Gluster logo In the previous article, we outlined how cultural dissonance can cause issues when cultures collide. In this article, we talk about what makes up cultural identity, and perhaps help you become more aware of your own cultural assumptions.

In "Cultures and Organizations", the sociologist Geert Hofstede identified six dimensions for characterizing a culture. The effects of these dimensions can be analyzed according to multiple characteristics of a culture, including education, social structure, political and economic systems, religious attitudes, traditions, and customs.

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Announcing Gluster 3.10

Gluster logo The Gluster community is pleased to announce the release of Gluster 3.10.

This is a major Gluster release that includes some substantial changes. The features revolve around, better support in container environments, scaling to larger number of bricks per node, and a few usability and performance improvements, among other bug fixes. This releases marks the completion of maintenance releases for Gluster 3.7 and 3.9. Moving forward, Gluster versions 3.10 and 3.8 are actively maintained.

The most notable features and changes are documented here as well as in our full release notes on Github. A full list of bugs that has been addressed is included on that page as well.

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How to Attract New Contributors

old-growth tree One of the biggest challenges that free and open source communities face is attracting new contributors to their project. It's a frustrating problem… after all, your community has built The Greatest Software Ever, why aren't people beating down the metaphorical doors to join in on all the fun?

The barriers to entry for any project can be subtle and numerous, and even those of us who do this every day face this challenge all of this time. Recently, Stormy Peters put the question to members of our team: What's the single best tip you've gotten for attracting new contributors? Or, alternatively, what's the single thing that's made the most impact on attracting new contributors to your project?

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Overcoming Culture Clash Part I--The Tragedy of Commonsense Morality

Communities are messy. What makes them messy is the relationships between the humans who make up those communities. Humans are complex beings, each with their own sets of experiences and assumptions which they bring into a relationship, and when the underlying assumptions about how the world works do not match, we get into trouble.

One colleague of mine has described culture as "the way that humans in a community actually do things." The things we say and do consciously are the tip of the iceberg—many of our reactions and feelings are unconscious, and based on underlying values and assumptions about society which we may not even be aware we have.

Editor's Note: Speaker notes for FOSDEM 2017 talk in Community DevRoom (video included).

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