How Should I Run My Community Elections?

Sooner or later in the growth of a community project, the question arises of how to choose representatives for the community. For some projects, this is when they lose a founder, and as a group decide to move to a “ruling technical council” model; for other projects, the need comes from the move to a non-profit governing body with paying members, and the desire to have a technical steering committee chosen from members; other projects evolve over time to a representative leadership model.

I have been involved in boot-strapping, reforming, or running elections in a number of different communities over the years (GNOME, Maemo, OpenStack, OPNFV, OpenDaylight, fd.io, and others). Which voting system to use, how to define the electorate, and limiting the pool of eligible candidates have tended to create the deepest rat-hole conversations in all projects I have been involved in when the topic of elections has come up.

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KubeCon and the Power of Collaboration

Attending KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2018 was an eye-opening experience for someone like me. On paper, it was  a very product-oriented conference, with the focus of my fellow Red Hatters on product and feature offerings in OpenShift and a whole host of Kubernetes and container-oriented software. Attendees here are very much developers and operators who are here to learn about how this technology works and how they can best use this tech in their organizations.

So what was a community person like me doing in a place like this?

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Regular Checkups Are Vital To Community Health

People, in general, have a hard time moving outside their comfort zone. Or even thinking about it. We can plan ahead for events that cause us discomfort, but when things are going well–especially when they are going well–we can fall into the trap of complacency.

For example, right now I am dealing with a head cold. It’s no big deal, I am still plodding along at work, getting things done. But I did not plan for this, and my productivity levels are correspondingly low this week.

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The “Supermind” of Open Source

I am reading Superminds – the The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together by Thomas W Malone–a book which calls out various facets of injecting Artificial Intelligence into thriving ecosystems of humans working together to augment the collective intelligence of these groups as a whole. Malone takes us through a journey into a world that brings to bear collaborative technologies and machine learning to aim for the perfect enterprise — An enterprise that can be ideally positioned to formulate and execute the most effective strategy to be successful. Respecting one of the “super brains” in the recent past, Malone calls this enterprise “Alberts”. I continue to read this page-turner and within a few pages, Malone references Wikipedia and Open Source software as highly de-centralized online groups that are much more prominent — just as he had predicted in his Future of Work book published in 2004. This got me thinking. Can this concept of the “Supermind” be applied to Open Source? Taking a cue from Malone’s idealistic enterprise–“Alberts”, join me as I inject a new member into the Open Source community–O2S2.

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Pass the Torch Without Dropping the Ball

A replacement plan/document is a great community resource, even when you’re not being replaced.

A year ago, as the role of RDO community manager at Red Hat was moving from one person to another, that team started thinking about what needs to be in place to effectively transition a role. More generally, the managers started thinking about planning, and documenting, for anyone’s eventual replacement.
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Don’t Lick the Cookie!

The phrase “cookie licking” has become popular in recent years to define a pattern which can be problematic in communities. Its meaning comes from a story: Mom makes a plate of cookies, and sets the on the table for the family. After everyone has had their cookies, there is one left on the plate. The cheeky child of the family wants to have the last cookie later, but has no confidence it will still be there when she comes back, so she grabs the cookie, licks it, and puts it back on the plate, secure in the knowledge that no-one else will want to eat it.

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The Danger of Devaluing Community Volunteers

It is a convenient myth for a lot of people in the free and open source software community that our projects have few barriers to entry beyond a base set of knowledge about the project new contributors want to try to join, and the skills need to contribute to a project.

Diversity, to a lot of people who buy into the pure meritocracy myth, is a problem that can be solved by accepting anyone who can contribute. It’s the contribution that matters, not the person’s race, gender, or other identifiable status. Train more people up, the meritocrats will argue, and the diversity problem will be solved.

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DevConf.us: Launching a New Event

DevConfUS LogoIt takes a village to raise a child, so the saying goes. That is also certainly the case for launching a new tech event, as the attendees of the inaugural DevConf.us have learned this week.

DevConf.us has successfully started in the George Sherman Union on the campus of Boston University, and runs until this Sunday afternoon. Registration is free of charge, so developers from all across the New England area are welcome.

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