Community News

Diversity Is More Than Just Window Dressing

Many hands Last week, I was interviewed by an academician who was doing a study on community metrics. During the conversation, the topic of diversity in a community arose. Specifically, the question was "why is diversity important to a community?"

I have to admit, I did freeze for a moment. Not really because I didn't have an answer, but because that's like asking "why is the Sun important?" and you don't want your answer to sound stupidly obvious ("because we'd all be dead"), as opposed to more thoughtful ("because 3 degrees Kelvin is rather chilly").

The diversity question is frustrating to me because my knee-jerk answer is "because we don't live in an all-X world" and "it's the right thing to do" can seem like platitudes. Thinking about it a little more, a more compelling reason dawned on me: creativity is directly proportional to diversity.

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Remembering the Magic Words

Thank Yous There is a curious thing happening in customer relations in the United States these days. The use of the response "you're welcome" seems to be getting replaced by "my pleasure."

Growing up, saying "thank you" meant getting a "you're welcome" immediately afterwards. Like "day" and "night."

When this first happens in an interaction, it's pretty disconcerting. There are certain language cues that become very ingrained in our consciousness, to the point where, if some thing different happens, it's like tripping over a mental crack in the sidewalk. If I casually use the greeting "How are you?" (or somesuch variant of the phrase), predictably I'm going to get something like "fine," "good," or (if the person I'm talking to is having an actual good day) "great!"

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Managing Overcollaboration

Beads The best thing about open source is watching people from different backgrounds and skillsets work together to create something bigger than something they can could have done alone.

And, sometimes, the worst thing about open source is watching people from different backgrounds and skillsets work together to blow something up.

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Launching Communities--A Checklist

Ship launch Lately, the Open Source and Standards team has been called upon to help companies and commercial products with the process of improving the health of and existing open source project. Occasionally, we even get to help launch a new community that did not exist before.

Launching a new community is not exactly a cookie-cutter operation. Every software can have its own licensing and copyright issues that can keep the developers and the lawyers occupied for quite some time.

Beyond the code, focusing on the actual people that could help make a project thrive once it's open, community managers need to spend time getting elements big and small ready to launch, too.

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Open Source and the Proactive Admin

Bug If you happen to be a Linux kernel developer, then you may not be having the best week. The same might hold true if you are a Linux systems administrator. The common reasons for this are the recently announced security vulnerabilities known as Spectre and Meltdown.

If you're not familiar with what these two vulnerabilities are, they are specific attack vectors that go after a processor feature known as speculative execution.

It's a no-kidding, all-hands-on-deck kind of problem, too. Initial reports had this being an Intel-only issue, but it turns out to be a potential open door to nearly every modern processor architecture.

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The Many Faces of the Community Manager

Many Faces The open source community manager is one of the most diverse roles in the industry. Each community manager has an opportunity to define their role and areas of focus based on their skills and interests, and on the specific needs of their community.

As a result, they are often not a natural fit in any part of a traditional software organisation, but have a dotted line relationship into a number of teams.

There are many traditional software and product development roles that a community manager can fill for an open source community.

Here are five I'd like to highlight:

  • Marketing
  • Partner/ecosystem development
  • Developer enablement
  • Product/release management
  • Product strategy

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How Pure Does Open Have to Be?

spanakopita Working in open source in these modern times is, for me, a lot of fun. The advent of tools like git (and services like GitHub and GitLab), collaborative platforms like Etherpad, and chat services like IRC have made sharing collaborative projects a much more streamlined process than in days past.

But what if members of your team prefer Slack to IRC? Or Google Docs to Etherpad? Is it time to get the holy water and exorcise these heretics from your community? Or can a more ecumenical embrace be employed?

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Stating the Obvious?

road One thing I have learned while attending events around the world is how to at least say four things in the local language: "hello, goodbye, please, and thank you." It's not much, and I realize its yet-another sign of U.S. cultural centrism that I don't know more languages than English and some German, but I figure if you're going to visit someone's home, the least you could do as a good guest is try to be polite.

Language barriers are not the only thing that can create difficulties communicating, particularly within communities. Personalities, methodologies, and even the most basic goals for a community can put community members at odds.

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Community Managers, What Do They Do?

community Communities are an important part of Red Hat culture and as we have many community managers here, I think it is worth sharing my community management research output with you.

Why did I do this research? We can look at our PnT Comms team as serving an internal community by creating content and events that openly exchange knowledge and ideas about PnT's strategy, products, and people. All PnT associates could be called part of our community, which is the ideal world towards which we're heading. This is why Tim Hildred asked me to find answers to these four questions:

  • Who is a community manager?
  • What are the main areas of responsibility of a community manager?
  • What are some things that community managers, both internal and external, do to achieve those things? How can we apply them in PnT Comms?
  • How do we measure the success of a community?

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Ethics In Open Source

paperclips One of the advantages of traveling to open source conferences around the world is that you get a varied perspectives on how the world can work that falls outside your own worldview.

My recent trip to the Open Source Summit in Prague afforded me many such opportunities, and from very unexpected sources. One of which was from what some of my colleagues informed me was a insidious time waster: Universal Paperclips.

And the fun was just beginning.

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