Building Vibrant Open Source Communities

As we work on some new initiatives for 2009 (news to come later!), I recalled a presentation I gave in March at the SDForum Open Source SIG with Fabrizio Capobianco from Funambol. Read on for highlights and to see the slides.

Basically, I lay out a few basic principles that I’ve noted over the years from successful companies. Note that this is from the perspective of a company-sponsored project, not a community-sponsored one:

  1. Create a project with room to grow outside of the bounds of your commercial offering. If it’s entirely constrained within your commercial product, then it is designed to fail
  2. ie. – make your product hackable and don’t constrain how it’s hackable. You may be surprised by the creativity of strangers
  3. Reach out beyond your (insular, echo chamber-bound) corporate community. If you’re not part of the conversation that other communities are having, then you’re out-of-sight, out-of-mind.
  4. Your community is your business, so treat them like it. They’re your partners, not a duck for you to shove your marketing messages into.
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