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When you have a question about a practice in open source software communities—such as “What does ‘release early, release often’ mean?”—what resources do you use? What if you want to know more than, “Here’s what to do and how to do it”—you also want to know why people do open source best practices a certain way?

One way to answer these questions now is with The Open Source Way, a guidebook to community management best practices, now in preview release. This preview features an early look at chapters on communication, governance, and metrics, as well as what contributors consider best practices on creating a diverse and inclusive community and attending to the well-being of community managers themselves. The full release of the guidebook will be released later in December.

This guidebook is the work of a new community of practice around open source community management, which clearly differentiates this book from other books and material on these topics. The Open Source Way is written from the perspective of a variety of people with diverse experiences, who all share a common pool of opinions on best practices in community management.

The gathering and sharing of these insights is enhanced by the stories supporting them. At the source of any habit or practice in an open source community is a story of why that practice was chosen from among other possibilities. A core feature of this community and guidebook is that we focus as much on the “why” of a practice as much as we do on the how and what.

After all, what is more useful to learn from open source community managers:  which messaging tool is “best,” or why you need asynchronous messaging in the first place, regardless of which implementation you choose?

There’s a problem this community of practice is looking to solve for itself, colloquially known as “the Shoemaker’s children syndrome”:  community managers are often too busy solving other peoples’ problems and documenting other peoples’ solutions that we don’t slow down to take care of our own needs.

This book provides this type of necessary, specific advice from open source practitioners, for open source practitioners. And as our own work tells us, good ideas can come from anyone at any time—this guidebook has been contributed to by practitioners of all levels, from just-started to triple-decades of experience.

After you check out the preview release, feel free to drop by our git repository and community discussion forum to see how the pulp becomes paper. The full outline for the 2.0 release is also in the git repository, so you can see what is coming next.

About the author

Working in the Open Source Program Office as part of the Office of the CTO providing a range of services and support to help Red Hat's open source projects become wildly successful.

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