My thoughts about community management

David Eaves wrote about open source contributions recently, and how community managers fit into the picture.

He remixed a graph from Angie Byron, and I wasn’t completely happy with the results. A fairly long twitter thread ensued, between myself, Jeffrey McManus, Emma Jane Hogbin and Peter Krenesky. In the end, David piped up and asked if I’d comment on his blog. So I did. 🙂


I commented via a long twitter thread that I “disagree with putting comm mgmt between user/dev. like @webchick’s ideas better.” 🙂

To flesh that out a bit — my gut reaction to the ultimate diagram you created is that it puts community managers *between* users and developers.. This is a convenient way to demonstrate a process, but ultimately, I have to disagree with the premise behind it.

I work to break down barriers between “users” and “developers”. My ideal world is one where the two overlap to a very large extent. I dislike models of open source community development which seem to promote the idea that there needs to be an intermediary.

I agree that most communities require an interface — it is rarely self-evident how one goes about joining a community if you were on the outside. Many times it is an organic process — your friends invite you, or you run into someone at a conference or bar, or you have to use or work on a piece of software for work. For those who, for whatever reason, are not already on the inside, having a single point of contact (a “community manager”, or in the amusing case of the open source developer group I primarily work with – a “liaison”) can be an invaluable tool.

However, I do not see that role as one that ultimately should belong to just one person. If I do my job right, eventually, people won’t even come to me any more. They will go directly to the individuals inside the community they most want to connect with — because I have managed to open up our community interfaces to the point that they are self-documenting, or easily found with a few clicks on our website.

Possibly, this vision is a bit unrealistic in the near term. But I’ll paraphrase my friend Audrey — it’s way more fun to craft your reality, than it is to passively experience it.

twittering on 2009-07-29

  • RT @snaga: RT @HackerNews: RethinkDB (YC S09): MySQL Storage Engine Built From The Ground Up For SSD #
  • hrm. @emmajanedotnet not a fan of @david_a_eaves remix to be honest.puts a barrier between “this is dumb” and “i can do something about it”. #
  • community managers are helpful, but transitory. goal should be to work self out of a job by mentoring/training others in community building. #
  • .@kreneskyp burnout is high, and better to ack that. then share the responsibility for growth/harmony. #
  • @emmajanedotnet 🙂 did read the text. disagree with putting comm mgmt between user/dev. like @webchick’s ideas better. #
  • @emmajanedotnet preaching to the choir! 🙂 #
  • @emmajanedotnet right. @webchick’s diagram reveals more of the complexity (overlapping) that i experience. feel like hers is more relevant. #
  • @david_a_eaves i’m a fan of your blog (collaboration/cooperation thoughts especially). just wary of putting barriers between think & do. #
  • @rasmus oh, suck. #
  • @jefferymcmanus i’m pointing out the value of teaching and sharing. to me – it’s like saying you have to have the same teacher forever. #
  • @jeffreymcmanus community management as a role should exist. just not forever 🙂 have the same feeling about sysadmins & i play both roles. #
  • @jeffreymcmanus ahhh 🙂 yes, slippery term.thinking of dev+user communities & building direct person-person connections. not building brand. #
  • having parallelized wtf moments with slony right now. #
  • @christiekoehler in canada? 🙂 #
  • thermometer went from 91F->82F in the last 30 minutes. mmm. #

OpenSQL Camp comes to Portland! November 14-15, 2009

I’m happy to announce that Portland, OR will be host to the next OpenSQL Camp, Portland. We’ll be holding it November 14-15, 2009.

Patterned after the first Open SQL camp held in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, in November 2008, we’re inviting any and all database practitioners (even the non-SQL, non-relational ones!) to join us for two days of deep database geeking.

To quote:

Attendees of this conference are mostly open source developers and end users/open source enthusiasts. The goal of this event is to spread the word about the vibrant communities and large ecosystems around Open Source Databases and to educate the attendees about what alternatives exist to commercial databases. It is a place where people come to learn, to participate and to contribute. In other words, it’s a great conference, and if you attend, it will be better.

And to quote Eric Day:

There are direct flights to Portland from many locations in the US, and the venue is
right off public transportation (train), so it should be convenient for everyone to get to.

We’ve decided on a place in Downtown Portland (which we’ll announce shortly), and are actively looking for sponsors to help fuel the camp. If you’re a database company, looking to connect with database hackers or just want to support the spread of database-fu, get in touch to sponsor OpenSQL Camp, Portland!

twittering on 2009-07-29

  • @adamd affirmative! #
  • so, who’s gonna kill me if I say that it’s 70F (or possibly cooler?) in my basement? #
  • sorry, no party at my place 🙂 i am driving out to beaverton (in the heat!) to have dinner with my mom tonight. some other heatwave! #

Weekly tweet digest for 2009-07-26

  • pgGearman 0.1 release! #
  • in the erlang tutorial at #oscon #
  • @ramereth pentabarf was a challenge to install and didn’t support the features we needed at the time. would love to get con sw devs together #
  • “don’t forget to end your line with a ‘full stop’.” by that, we mean: a period. #erlang #oscon #
  • @LeahRosin Awesome! If you’re here now, i’ll be near the speakers lounge around 10am today 🙂 #
  • wishing @pjf and @jarich good luck on their tutorial this afternoon – “Doing Perl Right” #
  • @LeahRosin yeah, i’m giving an ignite talk this evening, so hopefully we’ll run into each other! #
  • just created longest title for an ignite talk ever. #
  • @gnat are the oscon ignite talks being taped this time? #
  • @spinnerin yes, will be taped 🙂 #
  • oooh. just wrote some functions in #erlang. #oscon #
  • glad that we had volunteers in all speaker rooms during #osbridge. tutorial speaker having to walk quite a ways to get help. #
  • thinking about how volunteers enhance conference experience for attendees and speakers by being enthusiastic and helpful. #
  • @irabinovitch agreed! 🙂 #
  • @br3nda 🙁 feel better soon. #
  • @vaurora just embrace it 🙂 #
  • getting ready for the oscon ignite talks. #
  • @morganpdx open source can be more accountable because developers/users know eachother, & feel obligated – in a positive way – to fix bugs. #
  • in @vaurora’s btrfs talk #oscon #
  • @rehanitt yes! probably going back this fall. where were you working? #
  • bribing attendees with candy FTW #btrfs #oscon #
  • RT @roblb: Help us test a patch for the Win32 shared memory issue: have a patch sitting in the queue.. #postgres #
  • @gowstuff indeed! we had butterfingers 🙂 #
  • @lhawthorn having productive mentorship relationships — a step-by-step guide 🙂 #
  • listening to ted ts’o talk about the future of storage and filesystems #
  • three new filesystems merged in kernel 2.6.30 – hilfs2, pohmelfs, exofs #
  • “think about the problem in terms of dollars per performance.” -ted ts’o #
  • RT @timbray: Ted Ts’o: SSD’s are a long way from $-parity. See Hetzler’s “The Storage Chasm” #oscon #
  • .@robtreat2 power failure in sweden see @LenzGr 🙂 #
  • @robtreat2 and @postwait please note that grammatically correct use of ‘failure’ #
  • RT @jchris: Looks like I’ll be giving a surprise P2P Web / CouchDB talk at OSCON today. Room A3 at 5:20 #
  • @eggyknap LOL 🙂 #
  • In the #gearman bof #
  • @reidab let me help you 🙂 in reply to reidab #
  • OH: this presentation contains profanity, but don’t worry, it’s scholarly! #
  • If a person admits they work on FOSS for fame and glory, make them treasurer because they are so honest -@jarich #oscon #
  • Object to rudeness, even if you just observe it -@jarich #oscon #
  • OH: social patches welcome 🙂 #
  • lightning talks from oscon –, mine is around minute 16. #
  • the slides I used for the ignite oscon talk: #
  • Bruce and matthew Momjian talking about home automation #oscon #
  • “Having a grand vision leads to failure.” -Bruce Momjian #oscon #
  • RT @cascadebicycle: Google is street-viewing bike paths in Seattle. (Awesome!) (via @sarahsharp) #
  • Drinking caipirinhas, waiting for the bbq. Too hot, but we have an artificial breeze 🙂 #
  • OH: ‘I’ve never heard of the PILF?!?!’ #