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From Eric Johnson <>
Subject Re: How to grow podling communities
Date Tue, 27 Nov 2012 06:44:35 GMT
I'm mostly just a lurker on this list, having thought about bringing a 
project to Apache about 24 months ago[1], realizing we didn't quite have 
the demand/community. Since then I've been lurking, wanting to see 
when/whether it makes sense to attempt it again, reflecting on the state 
of the project I'm working on.

 From where I'm sitting, I think the incubator actually should do much 
more here. Big picture - bunch of developers with some cool code come to 
possible the foremost organization for open source projects. They start 
incubating, and discover that part of their incubation process is to 
market themselves to grow their community, and yet not much help arrives 
to do that. On top of that, (a) the developers likely have weak 
marketing skills, (b) don't have a budget for marketing & travel, (c) 
aren't given any tips from others more experienced about what kinds of 
resources they should scare up and which efforts they should focus on first.

I see the incubator process ought to play three roles:

a) teaching the Apache rules/community/approach

b) teaching optimal open source project hygiene (which includes items 
listed below, such as quick turn-around on patch reviews, decent 
website, tutorials, public mailing list discussion) - and actually 
include "grading" on the quality of those items before graduation.

c) assistance and reporting on "marketing". What the heck does this mean?

I think the incubator currently has parts (a) & (b) down. Not so much 
for (c)

For example:

What does it mean to do "press"? What would you include in a press 
release? Where would you send it?

Apache has so many projects, shouldn't it do a monthly "highlight on 
_____" report, calling out a top level project, and a project being 
incubated? Automatic publicity! Expect incubating projects to 
participate in one of those "highlight" reports before graduating....

What community events should a team focus on? What have teams done in 
the past? What has worked? What hasn't worked? Do we know why it worked 
or didn't work? Is this information being recorded anywhere?

Encourage teams to shamelessly request "reference" users that they can 
post to their websites. Solicit "endorsements" from "neutral" third parties.

I've seen ideas tossed around on the incubator list, but generally 
nothing concrete, so it feels to me like the projects are left drifting 
in the wind, trying to figure this stuff out for themselves.

That's silly, because Apache has such huge name recognition in the 
software world, it should be *easy* to draw attention to incubating 
projects. Except that at the moment, the best way to follow what's 
incubating seems to be hopping on this general list, where you will see 
when projects submit proposals, see them voted on, and see when they get 
in trouble. That's a lot of noise for a small amount of signal. 
Capturing that signal publicly might help bring visibility to the 
projects to follow.

For example, why doesn't the incubator have a twitter feed where the 
status of incubating projects gets reported? Something that everyone can 
follow, and discover when new projects are proposed, when projects are 
at risk, and when they think about graduating?

Recognizing that everyone here has limited resources, I don't think 
what's needed here is much more than a little bit of capturing existing 
known data on a wiki page or three, perhaps a twitter feed, and some 
small amount of nudging by mentors. At least as a start!



On 11/26/12 8:03 PM, Alan Cabrera wrote:
> I wonder if we can ask that incubation proposals include how they intend to get the message
out there.  What channels are relevant for the project?  I guess what are their marketing
> Eventually, we'd have a collection of old incubation proposals that new podlings could
use to garner ideas on how to market and grow their community.
> Regards,
> Alan
> On Nov 26, 2012, at 5:50 PM, Ross Gardler wrote:
>> Growing community is about "getting the message out there". There has to be someone
in the project who wants to do that. Some techniques are:
>> - press
>> - community events
>> - mentoring (that is mentoring of potential new committers)
>> - fast turnaround on patch reviews
>> - regular releases
>> - decent website
>> - tutorials
>> - screencasts
>> - public discussion (even with self while no community exists)
>> Developing code for one's own use is all well can good but it does not build community
and trying to build community doesn't, in the short term, write code. It's a catch-22.
>> Personally I have no problem with a podling having low activity. A single developer
doing their thing in the incubator is not going to hurt anyone. What I'm concerned about is
a podling that is not doing any of the above community development activities or, even worse,
is ignoring potential contributors.
>> I don't think it is the responsibility of ComDev to do this, although one could argue
ComDev should be documenting these techniques in ways useful to mentors. I don't think it
is the job of mentors (or the IPMC) to do this either. It is entirely the PPMC responsibility.
In my opinion.
>> Ross
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: Benson Margulies []
>>> Sent: 27 November 2012 00:22
>>> To:
>>> Subject: Re: How to grow podling communities
>>> Luciano,
>>> My five cents is this: growing communities is really, really, hard, and I don't
>>> know that anyone at Apache has a recipe. If anyone does, it might be the
>>> comdev committee. I'm not sure that this PMC can take it on. We can barely
>>> muster the minimal supervision that the board requires of us. If a PPMC
>>> wants help, it might be good for it to make contact with comdev.
>>> I hate to be such a pessimist, but I think that the incubator has to continue
>>> shrink until the number of podlings is in balance with the available
>>> supervisory/mentor effort. At that point, maybe we can consider consider
>>> more of an effort to support in addition to supervising.
>>> Just, however, my opinion.
>>> On Mon, Nov 26, 2012 at 3:58 PM, Luciano Resende <>
>>> wrote:
>>>> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>>>> From: *Benson Margulies*
>>>> Date: Monday, November 26, 2012
>>>> Subject: [VOTE] Retire Chukwa from incubation
>>>> To: "" <>
>>>> For those voting -1, I'd like to see, on another thread, some
>>>> discussion about just how we handle podlings where there are
>>>> longstanding issues but no consensus on the PPMC. We've heading in the
>>>> same direction on Photark, and some consensus about how or when to
>>>> reach a respectful conclusion as a PMC that a project should be
>>>> retired even if the PPMC is not of the same opinion would be useful.
>>>> We cannot both say that we need projects to have active, supervising,
>>>> mentors and shepherds and then not, in some fashion, act on what they
>>>> tell us.
>>>> -----
>>>> I believe that the discussion we should have is how can we help
>>>> struggling podlings to grow their community in a sustentable way.
>>>> Recently, I have seen an increase in trying to push small communities
>>>> to retirement, but i'm yet to see active mentors engaging and helping
>>>> and motivating the podlings PPMC to find ways to grow.
>>>> Growing communities when a project is backed by corporations that
>>>> sponsor engineers to devote their full time volunteering at the
>>>> project is much easier compared to those other projects that are
>>>> developed by a small group of people, that devote their own free time
>>>> and are passionate by the Apache brand, and doing truly open source
>>> following the Apache Way.
>>>> With my Community development hat, I would really like to see a wide
>>>> discussion on how the IPMC and COMDEV PMC could find ways to help
>>>> these struggling podlings succeed, instead of just giving ultimates
>>>> for seeking retirement. Things that come to mind are : make it easier
>>>> for new contributors to find tasks that they could work on, more
>>>> visibility for podlings in Apache sponsored conferences, etc
>>>> Thoughts ? Other possible ideas ?
>>>> Thanks
>>>> --
>>>> Luciano Resende
>>>> Sent from my iPhone
>>>> --
>>>> Luciano Resende
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