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Taking Care of Community Members

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Session Name: Taking Care of Community Members

Session room and timeslot: 10, 2pm

Organizers name: Ben van 't Ende <ben@vantende.net>

Note Taker Name: Tom Callaway <spot@fedoraproject.org>

My Notes:



Taking Care of Community Members Edit

- Ben van 't Ende (TYPO3)

- Kevin Turner (OSBridge, Portland Python)

- Van Riper (Google Community Organizer)

- Phil Bellew (Ubuntu Contributor)

- Sarah (Fedora)

- Kristina Hoeppner (Catalyst IT)


Overview Edit

  • interested in talking about responsibility and leadership
  • paths that communities should take/not take
  • Do we have organically grown OSS project, or do we have governance?



Notes Edit

  • (Ben) involved in lawsuit relating to taking developers from company into open source project

- community manager means to take care of community around you

- at what stage can you just kick developers out

- who has the authority to do that?

  • (Van) who has responsibility to take care of community?
  • (Ben) Leadership in OSS projects is important

- examples of people leaving communities because of lack of leadership

- maybe OSS projects are organic and losses are part of that

  • (van) there isn't one right way

- being intentionally conscious about how you're running the group

- some are organic and run themselves well

- others are very structured and run well

- becomes an issue when they aren't running well

  • (Ben) two levels:

- community

- leadership of community

- (to van) what level of responsibility do you feel?


  • (van) Google recently rebranded developer initiative

- Google Technologies forced to become part of it, forced to lose

established brand

- had to convince community to adopt new brand, community revolted

- but there were a lot of good reasons to do it

- surveyed community about advantages, 98% said they would

- only very early adopters were very attached to branding, very vocal

and toxic in community

- people were getting personal, nasty for the first time

- had to step in, said i thought it was right thing, but would not force it

- did survey, told community i was their advocate

- thankfully they were on board!



  • (Kristina) No community manager in my community

- interested in what you actually do as a manager

- sometimes has a negative connotation


  • (van) don't describe myself to the community that way

- but to my employer (google) i do

- more of an advocate for community to google (company)

- tend to think of it more like organizer, not manager

- global organizer of organizer, not managing them


  • (Ben) i agree, role is to pick up on what is going on

- sit in on meetings

- appointed as community manager to provide big picture, connect teams together

- management doesnt have bad connotation, but not in that business


  • (van) local meetups run by independent organizers

- no real power over them

- basic guidelines (mostly relevant to google, majority of meetings

around google technologies)

- google employees can't run them as organizers

- had to step down as organizer to work for google

- act as facilitator on mailing list

- organize global organizer summit

- choose active community members (150+)

- spend money on them


  • (Ben) Taking care of community members

- how do you run your community, how do you take care of them

- aside from giving them money



  • (van) they're developer groups

- early access to API programs

- early invites

- organize visits by important developers

- path for addressing concerns and complaints

- (Germany has issues which delay API/functionality releases)



  • (Ben) do you resolve disputes?


  • (van) mostly about organizational issues

- some people not running it appropriately, making money off it

- running a group without affiliation (improper)



  • (Ben) is it rewarding?


  • (van) mostly trying to get people to work together

- people in same place not getting along, if only they could work

together it would be better situation



  • (Kristin) my perspective, i try to connect people

- if people email me with interest, and i know of someone else with

same interest, try to connect them

- point to forum, encourage posting publicly

- if i know that devs aren't watching forums, i send them emails

notifying them of things in their area

- ensure that forum posts are answered

- not everyone can wade through mailing lists

- gentle prodding, i like to encourage a large amount of people answering



  • (ben) to group: just starting as comm. manager?



  • (Kevin) more involved with local communities

- not much event organization, but i help with conference

- lot of physical things involved in taking care of conference

- making sure people have food they can eat with dietary restrictions

- i like OSBridge because of yoga class offered, safe space, code of

conduct

- we do some conflict resolution policy for event, but don't usually

have to use it



  • (Sarah) not a manager, just a member

- moving from a small community into a larger one (fedora)

- observing how people interact, how decisions get made

- as far as fedora and responsibility towards comm members, havent

thought about that

- my view is that people join a community to scratch their own itch

(dev perspective)

- write code they want to use

- havent thought about how to look after, help, reward



  • (ben) My case is specific, i do a lot for the project, might be an exception

- still an interesting question, what is the responsibility of governing organization

- how do you handle governance, how do you change it?


  • (van) could become more of an issue as we mature

- thinking about making a steering committee for 800 community managers


  • (ben) like a community council?


  • (van) want them to run like a community, self-govern, just be there in

a support role

- but not there right now, have to be benevolent dictator, not push

them in direction they dont want to go


  • (ben) is there a plan to get more governance?


  • (van) want to turn it over to community, from philosophical relations

- google head of community gets this, knows it is there community



  • (ben) you have to "massage" community

- recent transitions in software, changing naming scheme

- thought after discussing it 10 times in steering committee and core group, we had a decision

- but when we took it to community at large, they erupted

- you can get acceptance when you don't call it a decision


  • (kristin) any difference in older vs younger communities


  • (phil) we had a youth council, other council wanted to do their own thing for a few months

- sent them all an email telling them they were fired now

- rest of ubuntu youth said "hey phil, you're the best"


  • (kristin) sometimes you have to be a bit autocratic



  • (phil) you have to take a stand

- 20 year old running things for 15 year old

- have to make them look like an asshole sometimes



  • (van) more like a kill the messenger thing



  • (phil) ubuntu has code of conduct

- had a user making anti-semetic comments, took him aside told him it was unacceptable, he repeated and i had to kick him off

- if i dont make that decision, the other 30 people would leave, don't want one guy to ruin it


  • (van) what i'm trying to do is be very careful in order to reach a decision

- sometimes better to follow gut feeling



  • (phil) much easier to shoot out an email to see if people care, to take temperature

- if no responses, then probably okay

- when i had to axe some top people, i emailed them to ask if they wanted to stay, no reply means no

- youth can be different to work with, normal OSS community is range of ages, don't know how old ppl are over the internet

- big diff between someone 85 and 12, life experience, makes them act

different, sometimes 12 year old has new perspective

- sometimes you have to listen to what ppl say but not act on it "thats

cool, but we're not doing it"



  • (Sarah) make them feel like they are heard



  • (phil) do you have to make tough decisions like that a lot



  • (ben) my community is pretty decent, but also quite old (12 years old)

- organic community, very balanced



  • (phil) lack of stance leads to bickering

- flaming each others ideas on mailing list, leads to personal battles

and people leaving



  • (ben) main things in my comm are around leadership

- how does board function?

- issues around transparency, didn't realize we weren't transparent to community


  • (van) i have that issue too, even in corporate

- they think i know things and am holding back

- but i couldn't share even if i did!



  • (phil) jono not telling us everything we know

- its true, fact of life


  • (ben) sometimes you have to be harsh


  • (van) nice if you can be harsh with a smile


  • (kristin) point about transparency is a big one, especially in distributed comm

- want to know what to expect, how processes work, making sure everyone is on same page


  • (ben) one thing to get a good feeling, but to keep it, you want to meet up


  • (van) one lesson i would have: get folks in the same room, very valuable

- lasts way beyond actual event, it is a psychological thing

- adds context to conversations online

- people will be more forgiving, defend people that they know

- quality of interaction goes up because of level of trust



  • (phil) when working w ppl worldwide, perhaps his slang/rhetoric/humor is different from yours


  • (kevin) comment abt transparency got me thinking

- one of my communities was openid community

- fascinating because i got to see ppl trying to develop OS specification

- then trying to get google to sign on

- two totally different worlds

- do you have a charter for your community that defines what it is about



  • (ben) we do, motto is "inspire people to share"



  • (kevin) a chartering document, in addition to board?



  • (ben) describes more about how community should act and less about governance

- works for leadership and governance


  • (sarah) all committee meetings are logged, visible on irc

- no decisions behind closed doors


  • (ben) at lower levels yes, but not higher levels

- higher levels refuse transparency


  • (sarah) all in fedora are open


  • (kristina) everything in our community is open and logged as well

- we use meetbot, generates irc meeting minutes automatically

- #topic sets topic, #idea for ideas, #action sets action items

- irc log available and meeting



  • (ben) dont use irc, use google hangout


  • (kristina) we use it because of time difference as inbetween people, can't meet in person due to geographical differences

- koha community uses it for years, very good results


  • (van) tend to use irc along with google hangout, ppl dont use chat

built in


  • (kristina) dont use hangouts
  • (phil) ubuntu devs use it so ppl can watch
  • (van) automatically recorded for youtube video, but can watch it live.
  • (ben) summary:

- real life meetings very important

- kind of looking for confirmation that a board/governing would need to take responsibility for comm. members

- really depends on type of community


  • (kristina) most situations board doesnt have to step in

- want self-regulating community, except when absolutely needed



  • (ben) our community's growth is amazing, dips and peaks of activity

- but doing very well this year, so many events popping up spontaneously

- TYPO3 community (very big in germany)

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