Community News

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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Down in Taz-Mania--Red Hat at LCA 2017 Hobart Part III

Tuz logo For some background I recommend you catch the earlier postings

Nadia LCASuitably refreshed after our conference dinner, our Thursday Keynote was Nadia Eghbal from GitHub. Her talk Consider the Maintainer looked at some of the issues when projects we all rely on may have a single maintainer or a single committer. If your organisation or project deeply relies on other Open Source projects you need to look at how you can support them, otherwise there is a potentially huge risk if the maintainer walks away.

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Down in Taz-Mania--Red Hat at LCA 2017 Hobart Part II

Tuz logo For some background I recommend you catch the earlier posting.

The conference had previously been held in Hobart back in 2009 and their mascot at the time was Tuz - a Tasmanian devil, wearing a fake beak, pretending to be a penguin. Wikipedia has more details on Tuz and the money raised in his honour that year. For 2017 the team had a local artist, Tania Walker, create an updated graphic featuring Tuz for the conference, shown at left.

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