Community Building Guide

2:00 pm community, freesoftware, gnome, maemo

I wrote another guest article for the VisionMobile blog last week, which just went live yesterday, titled “Open Source community building: a guide to getting it right”.


Community software development can be a powerful accelerator of adoption and development for your products, and can be a hugely rewarding experience. Working with existing community projects can save you time and money, allowing you to get to market faster, with a better product, than is otherwise possible. The old dilemma of “build or buy” has definitively changed, to “build, buy or share”.

Whether you’re developing for Android, MeeGo , Linaro or Qt, understanding community development is important. After embracing open development practices, investing resources wisely, and growing your reputation over time, you can cultivate healthy give-and-take relationships, where everyone ends up a winner. The key to success is considering communities as partners in your product development.

By avoiding the common pitfalls, and making the appropriate investment of time and effort, you will reap the rewards. Like the gardener tending his plants, with the right raw materials, tools and resources, a thousand flowers will bloom.

After focusing recently on a lot of the things that people do wrong, I wanted to identify some of the positive things that companies can do to improve their community development experiences: try to fit in, be careful who you pick to work in the community, and ensure that your developers are engaging the project well. If you are trying to grow a community development project around a piece of software, then you should ensure that you lower the barriers to entry for new contributors, ensure that you create a fair and just environment where everyone is subject to the same rules, and don’t let the project starve for lack of attention to things like patch review, communication, public roadmapping and mentoring.

The original title of the article was “Here be dragons: Best practices for community development” – I’ll let you decide whether the VisionMobile editors made a good decision to change it or not.

4 Responses

  1. Tweets that mention Safe as Milk » Blog Archive » Community Building Guide -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Disconnect, Zuissi. Zuissi said: Planet Gnome: Dave Neary: Community Building Guide: I wrote another guest article for the VisionMobile blog last… […]

  2. Donnie Berkholz Says:

    Nice article, Dave. There are a nearly infinite number of ways to go wrong but very few right ways, so it’s great to see you focus on that. Even if it doesn’t make for quite as fun of a talk, it’s a lot more useful afterwards.

  3. Open Trends nieuwsselectie 7 January 2011 « Jan Stedehouder Says:

    […] Safe as Milk Blog Archive Community Building Guide […]

  4. Open Trends nieuwsselectie 7 January 2011 » Open Trends Says:

    […] Safe as Milk Blog Archive Community Building Guide […]

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