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.Continue reading