Best practices to open source a product and creating a community around it
- Wicklow Hall 1
- 10:20 on 15 July 2022
- 30 minutes
In certain areas of the industry open source has become mainstream, whether it be a small part of a product, a “community edition of a product”, or creating a whole business around an open source product. One could assume the only thing required to do so is to make the source code of the project publicly accessible, possibly by putting it on a platform such as GitLab or GitHub, and one couldn’t be more wrong.
In this talk we explore those aspects such as the licence and the governance of the project and the impact they can have. Then we talk about common mistakes teams make which create an environment where outsiders don’t necessarily feel welcomed to the project. First impressions matter and it’s important that new contributors and users stay once they encounter the project.
TalkCommunity & Diversity
There are many aspects of open sourcing a product which are often overlooked yet greatly impact the community and activities around the project. One of the first things people think about is the licence , which is very important, but what people don’t often think about is the governance of it, which impacts the speed, decision making processes, and the kind of engagement one can get from contributors to the project who don’t work in the company.
Not every project is open sourced for the same purpose. On one side of the “openness” spectrum some projects are out there to give a bit of visibility to what a team is doing or to showcase a research or another product, and on the other spectrum the creators of a project put it out there to create a user and contributing community so that eventually the community would be active enough for the original creators to become a minority in the contributing and governance team. Depending on what the goals are, one needs to create or use a governance model which matches those goals and needs. One can look at the following categories from this perspective :
- Self-appointing council or board
Then we talk about some practices which can fend people off when they try to join a community, giving concrete detailed examples on how it can look like while interacting with contributors and users online, such as :
- Lack of onboarding
- Nothing in writing
- Leadership is a mystery
- No path to success
- Poor communication
- Lack of transparency
- Not seeing ourselves in others
 Licences and Standards, https://opensource.org/licenses  Understanding open source governance models, https://www.redhat.com/en/blog/understanding-open-source-governance-models  Brain Proffitt, Seven Deadly Sins of Open Source Communities