Tag: community management

Committee risk: A governance challenge for Open Source

Community participation and engagement in corporate Open Source projects is valuable, yet difficult to foster. Many companies supporting popular Open Source projects develop diverse communities across different employers, nationalities, genders, educational backgrounds, and more. Increased diversity brings perspective about who finds a product useful. It also gives you the opportunity to help your product be more useful for that audience. But if you’re building a diverse community around your enterprise project, where do you begin?

Many have started on this same path before. Several communities form a committee as a governance model for important decision-making. Usually committee membership is chosen through an election process. Paid employees, or sometimes, members of the community comprise the elected committee membership. This meritocratic approach is believed to bring in diverse representation and participation of highly-engaged people. After all, who better to represent contributors of a project than a committee of folks elected by their own peers?

Sometimes, committees do accomplish this lofty goal. My argument is that sometimes they don’t – especially if your committees are designed in a way to disable participation.

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Introducing UNICEF Open Source Mentorship

This post was co-published on the UNICEF Innovation Fund blog.

2020 saw the launch of a formalized Open Source Mentorship programme for the UNICEF Innovation Fund, built up on two years of work from RIT LibreCorps expertise and consulting.

The Open Source Mentorship programme includes five modules about Open Source intellectual property and communities delivered across twelve months. UNICEF grantees are matched with an experienced Open Source Mentor to guide them through the modules. The mentorship takes an interactive, guided approach to understanding the unique context that each team and product exist within. The assigned Open Source Mentor provides specialized advice and training:

  • Tailored feedback based on business models
  • Existing local user communities
  • Best practices for collaborating together with others on similar challenges.

The geographic diversity in the UNICEF Open Source Mentorship programme is unusual for technology incubators or accelerator programs. All funded projects come from UNICEF programme countries. The UNICEF Innovation Fund provides equity-free funding for Open Source solutions from local innovators and entrepreneurs solving local problems. To date, the Innovation Fund has invested in teams from over 57 countries. Argentina, India, Iran, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, and Rwanda represent the most recent incoming cohort in July 2021.

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The day open source died: a story about Minecraft, Bukkit, and the GPL

Once upon a time, when I was a teenager, I volunteered in the Minecraft open source community. I volunteered as a staff member of the largest open source Minecraft server today, called Spigot. Spigot is a fork of the Bukkit project.

This blog post is a story roughly covering 2010 to 2014 on the meaning, values, and promise of open source. This story impacted a community of hundreds of thousands of people, mostly adolescent children, teenagers, and young adults. It is a tale about the simultaneous success and failure of the GNU Public License (GPL).

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DevConf CZ 2020: play by play

DevConf CZ 2020 took place from Friday, January 24th to Sunday January 27th in Brno, Czech Republic:

DevConf.CZ 2020 is the 12th annual, free, Red Hat sponsored community conference for developers, admins, DevOps engineers, testers, documentation writers and other contributors to open source technologies. The conference includes topics on Linux, Middleware, Virtualization, Storage, Cloud and mobile. At DevConf.CZ, FLOSS communities sync, share, and hack on upstream projects together in the beautiful city of Brno, Czech Republic.

devconf.info/cz/

This is my third time attending DevConf CZ. I attended on behalf of RIT LibreCorps for professional development, before a week of work-related travel. DevConf CZ is also a great opportunity to meet friends and colleagues from across time zones. This year, I arrived hoping to better understand the future of Red Hat’s technology, see how others are approaching complex problems in emerging technology and open source, and of course, to have yummy candy.

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Sustain OSS 2018: quick rewind

This year, I attended the second edition of the Sustain Open Source Summit (a.k.a. Sustain OSS) on October 25th, 2018 in London. Sustain OSS is a one-day discussion on various topics about sustainability in open source ecosystems. It’s also a collection of diverse roles across the world of open source. From small project maintainers to open source program managers at the largest tech companies in the world, designers to government employees, there is a mix of backgrounds in the room. Yet there is a shared context around the most systemic problems faced by open source projects, communities, and people around the world.

The shared context is the most valuable piece of the conference. As a first-time attendee, I was blown away by the depth and range of topics covered by attendees. This blog post covers a narrow perspective of Sustain OSS through the sessions I participated and co-facilitated in.

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Keep your open source project organized with GitHub project boards

This article was originally published on Opensource.com.


Managing an open source project is challenging work. The challenge grows as a project grows. Eventually, a project may need to meet different requirements and span across multiple repositories. These problems aren’t technical, but are important to solve to scale a technical project. Business process management methodologies such as agile and kanban bring a method to the madness. Developers and managers can make realistic decisions for estimating deadlines and team bandwidth with organized development focus.

At the UNICEF Office of Innovation, we use GitHub projects boards to organize development on the MagicBox project. MagicBox is a full-stack application to serve and visualize data for decision-making in humanitarian crises and emergencies. The project spans multiple GitHub repositories and works with multiple developers. With GitHub project boards, we organized our work across multiple repositories to better understand development focus and team bandwidth.

Here’s three tips from the UNICEF Office of Innovation on how to organize your open source GitHub projects with the built-in project boards on GitHub.

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