- When joining a community, you need to learn about the culture of the project
- The best way to grow a community of supporting vendors initially is to pick up the phone and present the project to friends
- A key requirement to creating a successful community is to create a healthy, diverse, welcoming culture
- Focus on user needs and adoption first – a developer community will grow from the diversity of ways in which users adopt your software, and vendors will be more interested when they see that your software solves a real user problem.
- Benefit: You get to engage in the community process much earlier and help ensure that the project fulfills your needs.
- Pitfall: You need to learn a project’s culture and show up with some resources of use to the community to have productive engagements.
- Benefit: As a user, you defer payment to the point of value. You don’t have to invest money up front to figure out whether the software will be useful to you.
- Pitfall: Adopting community-supported open source software involves investing time and effort up front.
- Benefit: As a consumer of a successful community project, you have a choice of vendors who can offer commercial support for the project. In addition, you have reduced risk of finding yourself running zombie code in production, if a supplier gets acquired or goes out of business.
- Pitfalls: You end up having to choose from among multiple vendors, and the selection criteria are going to be different from what they would typically be. You end up having to educate your purchasing department about analysing the risk of acquisition. And a poor vendor choice can result in vendor lock-in, if you choose a vendor who has “forked” the upstream code to make a premium product that you come to depend on.
About the author
Dave Neary is the Field Engagement lead for the Open Source Program Office at Red Hat, communicating the value of open source software development to Red Hat customers ad partners. He has been active in free and open source communities for more than 15 years as a consultant, community manager, trainer and developer. In that time, he has worked on advising companies in finance and telecommunications industry on effective adoption of, and participation in, open source projects.