2017 Community Leadership Events: An Update

This week I was delighted to see that we could take the wraps off a new event that I am running in conjunction with my friends at the Linux Foundation called the Community Leadership Conference. The event will be part of the Open Source Summit which was previously known as LinuxCon and I will be running it in Los Angeles from 11th – 13th Sep 2017 and Prague from 23rd – 25th Oct 2017.

Now, some of you may be wondering if this replaces or is different to the Community Leadership Summit in Portland/Austin. Let me add some clarity.

The Community Leadership Summit

The Community Leadership Summit takes place each year the weekend before OSCON. I can confirm that there will be another Community Leadership Summit in 2017 in Austin. We plan to announce this soon formally.

The Community Leadership Summit has the primary goal of bringing together community managers from around the world to discuss and debate community leadership principles. The event is an unconference and is focused on discussions as opposed to formal presentations. As such, and as with any unconference, the thrill of the event is the organic schedule and conversations that follow. Thus, CLS is a great event for those who are interested in playing an active role in furthering the art of and science of community leadership more broadly in an organic way.

The Community Leadership Conference

The Community Leadership Conference, which will be part of the Open Source Summit in Los Angeles and Prague, has a slightly different format and focus.

CLC will instead be a traditional conference. My goal here is to bring together speakers from around the world to deliver presentations, panels, and other material that shares best practices, methods, and approaches in community leadership, and specific to open source. CLC is not intended to shape the future of community leadership, but more to present best practices and principles for consumption, and tailed to the needs of open source projects and organizations.

In Summary

So, in summary, the Community Leadership Conference is designed to be a place to consume community leadership best practices and principles via carefully curated presentations, panels, and networking. The Community Leadership Summit is designed to be more of an informal roll-your-sleeves up summit where attendees discuss and debate community leadership to help shape how it evolves and grows.

As regular readers will know, I am passionate about evolving the art and science of community leadership and while CLS has been an important component in this evolution, I felt we needed to augment it with CLC. These two events, combined with the respective audiences of their shared conferences, and bolstered by my wonderful friends at O’Reilly and the Linux Foundation, are going to help us to evolve this art and science faster and more efficiently than ever.

I hope to see you all at either or both of these events!

Luma Wifi Review and Giveaway

For some reason, wifi has always been the bane of my technological existence. Every house, every router, every cable provider…I have always suffered from bad wifi. I have tried to fix it and in most cases failed.

As such, I was rather excited when I discovered the Luma a little while ago. Put simply, the Luma is a wifi access point, but it comes in multiple units to provide repeaters around your home. The promise of Luma is that this makes it easier to bathe your home in fast and efficient wifi, and comes with other perks such as enhanced security, access controls and more.

So, I pre-ordered one and it arrived recently.

I rather like the Luma so I figured I would write up some thoughts. Stay tuned though, because I am also going to give one away to a lucky reader.

Setup

When it arrived I set it up and followed the configuration process. This was about as simple as you can imagine. The set came with three of these:

luma-kitchen-counter

I plugged each one in turn and the Android app detected each one and configured it. It even recommended where in the house I should put them.

So, I plonked the different Lumas around my house and I was getting pretty reputable speeds.

Usage

Of course, the very best wifi routers blend into the background and don’t require any attention. After a few weeks of use, this has been the case with the Luma. They just sit there working and we have had great wifi across the house.

There are though some interesting features in the app that are handy to have.

Firstly, device management is simple. You can view, remove, and block Internet to different devices and even group devices by person. So, for example, if you neighbors use your Internet from time to time you can group their devices and switch them off if you need precious bandwidth.

Viewing these devices from an app and not an archaic admin panel also makes auditing devices simple. For example, I saw two weird-looking devices on our network and after some research they turned out to be Kindles. Thanks, Amazon, for not having descriptive identifiers for the devices, by the way. 😉

Another neat feature is content filtering. If you have kids and don’t want them to see some naughty content online, you can filter by device or across the whole network. You could also switch off their access when dinner is ready.

So, overall, I am pretty happy with the Luma. Great hardware, simple setup, and reliable execution.

Win a Luma

I want to say a huge thank-you to the kind folks at Luma, because they provided me with an additional Luma to give away here!

Participating is simple. As you know, my true passion in life is building powerful, connected, and productive communities. So, unsurprisingly, I have a question that relates to community:

What is the most interesting, productive, and engaging community you have ever seen?

To participate simply share your answer as a comment on this post. Be sure to tell me which community you are nomating, share pertinant links, and tell me why that community is doing great work. These don’t have to be tech communities – they can be anything, craft, arts, sports, charities, or anything else. I want you to sell me on why the community is interesting and does great work.

Please note: if you include a lot of links, or haven’t posted here before, sometimes comments get stuck in the moderation queue. Rest assured though, I am regularly reviewing the queue and your comment will appear – please don’t submit multiple comments that are the same!

The deadline for submissions is 12pm Pacific time on Fri 18th Nov 2016.

I will then pick my favorite answer and announce the winners. My decision is final and based on what I consider to be the most interesting submission, so no complaining, people. Thanks again to Luma for the kind provision of the prize!

All Things Open Next Week – MCing, Talks, and More

Last year I went to All Things Open for the first time and did a keynote. You can watch the keynote here.

I was really impressed with All Things Open last year and have subsequently become friends with the principle organizer, Todd Lewis. I loved how the team put together a show with the right balance of community and corporation, great content, exhibition and more.

All Thing Open 2016 is happening next week and I will be participating in a number of areas:

  • I will be MCing the keynotes for the event. I am looking forward to introducing such a tremendous group of speakers.
  • Jeremy King, CTO of Walmart Labs and I will be having a fireside chat. I am looking forward to delving into the work they are doing.
  • I will also be participating in a panel about openness and collaboration, and delivering a talk about building a community exoskeleton.
  • It is looking pretty likely I will be doing a book signing with free copies of The Art of Community to be given away thanks to my friends at O’Reilly!

The event takes place in Raleigh, and if you haven’t registered yet, do so right here!

Also, a huge thanks to Red Hat and opensource.com for flying me out. I will be joining the team for a day of meetings prior to All Things Open – looking forward to the discussions!

Bacon Roundup – 28th September 2016

Here we are with another roundup of things I have been working on, complete with a juicy foray into the archives too. So, sit back, grab a cup of something delicious, and enjoy.

To gamify or not to gamify community (opensource.com)

In this piece I explore whether gamification is something we should apply to building communities. I also pull from my experience building a gamification platform for Ubuntu called Ubuntu Accomplishments.

The GitLab Master Plan (gitlab.com)

Recently I have been working with GitLab. The team has been building their vision for conversational development and I MCed their announcement of their plan. You can watch the video below for convenience:


Social Media: 10 Ways To Not Screw It Up (jonobacon.org)

Here I share 10 tips and tricks that I have learned over the years for doing social media right. This applies to tooling, content, distribution, and more. I would love to learn your tips too, so be sure to share them in the comments!

Linux, Linus, Bradley, and Open Source Protection (jonobacon.org)

Recently there was something of a spat in the Linux kernel community about when is the right time to litigate companies who misuse the GPL. As a friend of both sides of the debate, this was my analysis.

The Psychology of Report/Issue Templates (jonobacon.org)

As many of you will know, I am something of a behavioral economics fan. In this piece I explore the interesting human psychology behind issue/report templates. It is subtle nudges like this that can influence the behavioral patterns you want to see.

My Reddit AMA

It would be remiss without sharing a link to my recent reddit AMA where I was asked a range of questions about community leadership, open source, and more. Thanks to all of you who joined and asked questions!

Looking For Talent

I also posted a few pieces about some companies who I am working with who want to hire smart, dedicated, and talented community leaders. If you are looking for a new role, be sure to see these:

From The Archives

Dan Ariely on Building More Human Technology, Data, Artificial Intelligence, and More (forbes.com)

My Forbes piece on the impact of behavioral economics on technologies, including an interview with Dan Ariely, TED speaker, and author of many books on the topic.

Advice for building a career in open source (opensource.com)

In this piece I share some recommendations I have developed over the years for those of you who want to build a career in open source. Of course, I would love to hear you tips and tricks too!

Looking for a data.world Director of Community

data.world

Some time ago I signed an Austin-based data company called data.world as a client. The team are building an incredible platform where the community can store data, collaborate around the shape/content of that data, and build an extensive open data commons.

As I wrote about previously I believe data.world is going to play an important role in opening up the potential for finding discoveries in disparate data sets and helping people innovate faster.

I have been working with the team to help shape their community strategy and they are now ready to hire a capable Director of Community to start executing these different pieces. The role description is presented below. The data.world team are an incredible bunch with some strong heritage in the leadership of Brett Hurt, Matt Laessig, Jon Loyens, Bryon Jacob, and others.

As such, I am looking to find the team some strong candidates. If I know you, I would invite you to confidentially share your interest in this role by filling my form here. This way I can get a good sense of who is interested and also recommend people I personally know and can vouch for. I will then reach out to those of you who this seems to be a good potential fit for and play a supporting role in brokering the conversation.

This role will require candidates to either be based in Austin or be willing to relocate to Austin. This is a great opportunity, and feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions.

Director of Community Role Description

data.world is building a world-class data commons, management, and collaboration platform. We believe that data.world is the very best place to build great data communities that can make data science fun, enjoyable, and impactful. We want to ensure we can provide the very best support, guidance, and engagement to help these communities be successful. This will involve engagement in workflow, product, outreach, events, and more.

As Director of Community, you will lead, coordinate, and manage our global community development initiatives. You will use your community leadership experience to shape our community experience and infrastructure, feed into the product roadmap with community needs and requirements, build growth and engagement, and more. You will help connect, celebrate, and amplify the existing communities on data.world and assist new ones as they form. You will help our users to think bigger, be the best they can be, and succeed more. You’ll work across teams within data.world to promote the community’s voice within our different internal teams. You should be a content expert, superb communicator, and humble facilitator.

Typical activities for this role include:

  • Building and executing programs that grow communities on data.world and empower them to do great work.
  • Taking a structured approach to community roles, on-boarding, and working with our teams to ensure community members have a simple and powerful experience.
  • Developing content that promotes the longevity and sustainability of fast growing, organically built data communities with high impact outcomes.
  • Building relationships within the industry and community to be their representative for data.world in helping to engage, be successful, and deliver great work and collaboration.
  • Working with product, user operations, and marketing teams on product roadmap for community features and needs.
  • Being a data.world representative and spokesperson at conferences, events, and within the media and external data communities.
  • Always challenging our assumptions, our culture, and being singularly focused on delivering the very best data community platform in the world.

Experience with the following is required:

  • 5-7 years of experience participating in and building communities, preferably data based, or technical in nature.
  • Experience with working in open source, open data, and other online communities.
  • Public speaking, blogging, and content development.
  • Facilitating complex and sensitive community management situations with humility, judgment, tact, and humor.
  • Integrating company brand, voice, and messaging into developed content. Working independently and autonomously, managing multiple competing priorities.

Experience with any of the following preferred:

  • Data science experience and expertise.
  • 3-5 years of experience leading community management programs within a software or Internet-based company.
  • Media training and experience in communicating with journalists, bloggers, and other media on a range of technical topics.
  • Existing network from a diverse set of communities and social media platforms.
  • Software development capabilities and experience

Looking For Talent For ClusterHQ

clusterhq_logo

Recently I signed ClusterHQ as a client. If you are unfamiliar with them, they provide a neat technology for managing data as part of the overall lifecycle of an application. You can learn more about them here.

I will be consulting with Cluster to help them (a) build their community strategy, (b) find a great candidate as Senior Developer Evanglist, and (c) help to mentor that person in their role to be successful.

If you are looking for a new career, this could be a good opportunity. ClusterHQ are doing some interesting work, and if this role is a good fit for you, I will also be there to help you work within a crisply defined strategy and be successful in the execution. Think of it as having a friend on the inside. 🙂

You can learn more in the job description, but you should have these skills:

  • You are a deep full-stack cloud technologist. You have a track record of building distributed applications end-to-end.
  • You either have a Bachelor’s in Computer Science or are self-motivated and self-taught such that you don’t need one.
  • You are passionate about containers, data management, and building stateful applications in modern clusters.
  • You have a history of leadership and service in developer and DevOps communities, and you have a passion for making applications work.
  • You have expertise in lifecycle management of data.
  • You understand how developers and IT organizations consume cloud technologies, and are able to influence enterprise technology adoption outcomes based on that understanding.
  • You have great technical writing skills demonstrated via documentation, blog posts and other written work.
  • You are a social butterfly. You like meeting new people on and offline.
  • You are a great public speaker and are sought after for your expertise and presentation style.
  • You don’t mind charging your laptop and phone in airport lounges so are willing and eager to travel anywhere our developer communities live, and stay productive and professional on the road.
  • You like your weekend and evening time to focus on your outside-of-work passions, but don’t mind working irregular hours and weekends occasionally (as the job demands) to support hackathons, conferences, user groups, and other developer events.

ClusterHQ are primarily looking for help with:

  • Creating high-quality technical content for publication on our blog and other channels to show developers how to implement specific stateful container management technologies.
  • Spreading the word about container data services by speaking and sharing your expertise at relevant user groups and conferences.
  • Evangelizing stateful container management and ClusterHQ technologies to the Docker Swarm, Kubernetes, and Mesosphere communities, as well as to DevOPs/IT organizations chartered with operational management of stateful containers.
  • Promoting the needs of developers and users to the ClusterHQ product & engineering team, so that we build the right products in the right way.
  • Supporting developers building containerized applications wherever they are, on forums, social media, and everywhere in between.

Pretty neat opportunity.

Interested?

If you are interested in this role, there are few options for next steps:

  1. You can apply directly by clicking here.
  2. Alternatively, if I know you, I would invite you to confidentially share your interest in this role by filling in my form here. This way I can get a good sense of who is interested and also recommend people I personally know and can vouch for. I will then reach out to those of you who this seems to be a good potential fit for and play a supporting role in brokering the conversation.

By the way, there are going to be a number of these kinds of opportunities shared here on my blog. So, be sure to subscribe to my posts if you want to keep up to date with the latest opportunities.

The Psychology of Report/Issue Templates

This week HackerOne, who I have been working with recently, landed Report Templates.

In a nutshell, a report template is a configurable chunk of text that can be pre-loaded into the vulnerability submission form instead of a blank white box. For example:

96ba76fdc5f74c773902b8b975ea161326a72ffc_original

The goal of a report template is two-fold. Firstly, it helps security teams to think about what specific pieces of information they require in a vulnerability report. Secondly, it provides a useful way of ensuring a hacker provides all of these different pieces of information when they submit a report.

While a simple feature, this should improve the overall quality of reports submitted to HackerOne customers, improve the success of hackers by ensuring their vulnerability reports match the needs of their security teams, and result in overall better quality engagement in the platform.

Similar kinds of templates can be seen in platforms such as Discourse, GitLab, GitHub, and elsewhere. While a simple feature, there are some subtle underlying psychological components that I thought could be interesting to share.

The Psychology Behind the Template

When I started working with HackerOne the first piece of work I did was to (a) understand the needs/concerns of hackers and customers and then based on this, (b) perform a rigorous assessment of the typical community workflow to ensure that it mapped to these requirements. My view is simple: if you don’t have simple and effective workflow, it doesn’t matter how much outreach you do, people will get confused and give up.

This view fits into a wider narrative that has accompanied my work over the years that at the core of great community leadership is intentionally influencing the behavior we want to see in our community participants.

When I started talking to the HackerOne team about Report Templates (an idea that had already been bounced around), building this intentional influence was my core strategic goal. Customers on HackerOne clearly want high quality reports. Low quality reports suck up their team’s time, compromise the value of the platform, and divert resources from other areas. Similarly, hackers should be set up for success. A core metric for a hacker is Signal, and signal threshold is a metric for many of the private programs that operate on HackerOne.

In my mind Report Templates were a logical areas to focus on for a few reasons.

Firstly, as with almost everything in life, the root of most problems are misaligned expectations. Think about spats with your boss/spouse, frustrations with your cable company, and other annoyances as as examples of this.

A template provides an explicit tool for the security team to state exactly what they need. This reduces ambiguity, which in turn reduces uncertainty, which has proven to be a psychological blocker, and particularly dangerous on communities.

There has also been some interesting research into temptation and one of the findings has been that people often make irrational choices when they are in a state of temptation or arousal. Thus, when people are in a state of temptation, it is critical for us to build systems that can responsibility deliver positive results for them. Otherwise, people feel tempted, initiate an action, do not receive the rewards they expected (e.g. validation/money in this case), and then feel discomfort at the outcome.

Every platform plays to this temptation desire. Whether it is being tempted to buy something on Amazon, temptation to download and try a new version of Ubuntu, temptation to respond to that annoying political post from your Aunt on Facebook, or a temptation to submit a vulnerability report in HackerOne, we need to make sure the results of the action, at this most delicate moment, are indeed positive.

Report Templates (or Issue/Post Templates in other platforms) play this important role. They are triggered at the moment the user decides to act. If we simply give the user a blank white box to type into, we run the risk of that temptation not resulting in said suitable reward. Thus, the Report Template greases the wheels, particularly within the expectations-setting piece I outlined above.

Finally, and as relates to temptation, I have become a strong believer in influencing behavioral patterns at the point of action. In other words, when someone decides to do something, it is better to tune that moment to influence the behavior you want rather than try to prime people to make a sensible decision before they do so.

In the Report Templates example, we could have alternatively written oodles and oodles of documentation, provided training, delivered webinars/seminars and other content to encourage hackers to write great reports. There is though no guarantee that this would have influenced their behavior. With a Report Template though, because it is presented at the point of action (and temptation) it means that we can influence the right kind of behavior at the right time. This generally delivers better results.

This is why I love what I do for a living. There are so many fascinating underlying attributes, patterns, and factors that we can learn from and harness. When we do it well, we create rewarding, successful, impactful communities. While the Report Templates feature may be a small piece of this jigsaw, it, combined with similar efforts can join together to create a pretty rewarding picture.

Linux, Linus, Bradley, and Open Source Protection

Last week a bun-fight kicked off on the Linux kernel mailing list that led to some interesting questions about how and when we protect open source projects from bad actors. This also shone the light on some interesting community dynamics.

The touchpaper was lit when Bradley Kuhn, president of the Software Freedom Conservancy (an organization that provides legal and administrative services for free software and open source projects) posted a reply to Greg KH on the Linux kernel mailing list:

I observe now that the last 10 years brought something that never occurred before with any other copylefted code. Specifically, with Linux, we find both major and minor industry players determined to violate the GPL, on purpose, and refuse to comply, and tell us to our faces: “you think that we have to follow the GPL? Ok, then take us to Court. We won’t comply otherwise.” (None of the companies in your historical examples ever did this, Greg.) And, the decision to take that position is wholly in the hands of the violators, not the enforcers.

He went on to say:

In response, we have two options: we can all decide to give up on the GPL, or we can enforce it in Courts.

This rather ruffled Linus’s feathers who feels that lawyers are more part of the problem than the solution:

The fact is, the people who have created open source and made it a success have been the developers doing work – and the companies that we could get involved by showing that we are not all insane crazy people like the FSF. The people who have destroyed projects have been lawyers that claimed to be out to “save” those projects.

What followed has been a long and quite interesting discussion that is still rumbling on.

In a nutshell, this rather heated (and at times unnecessarily personal) debate has focused on when is the right time to defend the rights on the GPL. Bradley is of the view that these rights should be intrinsically defended as they are as important (if not more important) than the code. Linus is of the view that the practicalities of the software industry mean sending in the lawyers can potentially have an even more damaging effect as companies will tense up and choose to stay away.

Ethics and Pragmatism

Now, I have no dog in this race. I am a financial supporter of the Software Freedom Conservancy and the Free Software Foundation. I have an active working relationship with the Linux Foundation and I am friends with all the main players in this discussion, Linus, Greg, Bradley, Karen, Matthew, and Jeremy. I am not on anyone’s “side” here and I see value in the different perspectives brought to the table.

With that said, the core of this debate is the balance of ethics and pragmatism, something which has existed in open source and free software for a long time.

Linus and Bradley are good examples of either side of the aisle.

Linus has always been a pragmatic guy, and his stewardship of Linux has demonstrated that. Linus prioritizes the value of the GPL for practical software engineering and community-building purposes more-so than wider ideological free software ambitions. With Linus, practicality and tangible output come first.

Bradley is different. For Bradley, software freedom is first and foremost a moral issue. Bradley’s talents and interests lay with the legal and copyright aspects more-so than software engineering, so naturally his work has focused on licensing, copyright, and protection.

Now, this is not to suggest Linus doesn’t have ethics or that Bradley isn’t pragmatic, but their priorities are drawn in different areas. This results in differences in expectations, tone, and approach, with this debate being a good example.

Linus and Bradley are not alone here. For a long time there have been differences between organizations such as the Linux Foundation, the Free Software Foundation, and the Open Source Initiative. Again, each of these organizations draw their ethical and pragmatic priorities differently and they attract supporters who commonly share those similar lines in the sand.

I am a supporter of all of these organizations. I believe the Linux Foundation has had an unbelievably positive effect in normalizing and bridging the open source culture, methodology, and mindset to the wider business world. The Open Source Initiative have done wonderful work as stewards of licenses that thousands of organizations depend on. The Free Software Foundation has laid out a core set of principles around software freedom that are worthy for us all to strive for.

As such, I often take the view that everyone is bringing value, but everyone is also somewhat blinded by their own priorities and biases.

My Conclusion

Unsurprisingly, I see value in both sides of the debate.

Linus rightly raises the practicalities of the software industry. This is an industry in that is driven by a wide range of different forcing functions and pressures: politics, competition, supply/demand, historical precedent, cultural norms, and more. Many of these companies do great things, and some do shitty things. That is human beings for you.

As such, and like any industry, nothing is black and white. This isn’t as simple as Company A licenses code under the GPL and if they don’t meet the expectations of the license they should face legal consequences until they do. Each company has a delicate mix of these driving forces and Linus is absolutely right that a legal recourse could potentially have the inverse effect of reducing participation rather than improving it.

On the other hand, the GPL (or another open source license) does have to have meaning. As we have seen in countless societies in history, if rules are not enforced, humans will naturally try to break the rules. This always starts as small infractions but then ultimately grows more and more as the waters are tested. So, Bradley raises an important point, and while we should take a realistic and pragmatic approach to the norms of the industry, we do need people who are willing and able to enforce open source licenses.

The subtlety is in how we handle this. We need to lead with nuance and negotiation and not with antagonistic legal implications. The lawyers have to be a last resort and we should all be careful not to infer an overblown legal recourse for organizations that skirt the requirements of these licenses.

Anyone who has been working in this industry knows that the way you get things done in an organization is via a series of indirect nudges. We change organizations and industries with relationships, trust, and collaboration, and providing a supporting function to accomplish the outcome we want.

Of course, sometimes there has to be legal consequences, but this has to genuinely be a last resort. We need to not be under the illusion that legal action is an isolated act of protection. While legal action may protect the GPL in that specific scenario it will also freak out lots of people watching it unfold. Thus, it is critical that we consider the optics of legal action as much as the practical benefits from within that specific case.

The solution here, as is always the case, is more dialog that is empathetic to the views of those we disagree with. Linus, Bradley, and everyone else embroiled in this debate are on the right side of history. We just need to work together to find common ground and strategies: I am confident they are there.

What do you think? Do I have an accurate read on this debate? Am I missing something important? Share your thoughts below in the comments!

Join my Reddit AMA Tomorrow

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 9.58.32 PM

Just a short reminder that tomorrow, Tuesday 30th August 2016 at 9am Pacific (see other time zone times here) I will be doing a Reddit AMA about community strategy/management, developer relations, open source, music, and anything else you folks want to ask about.

Want to ask questions about Canonical/GitHub/XPRIZE? Questions about building great communities? Questions about open source? Questions about politics or music? All questions are welcome!

To join, simply do the following:

  • Be sure to have a Reddit account. If you don’t have one, head over here and sign up.
  • On Tuesday 30th August 2016 at 9am Pacific (see other time zone times here) I will share the link to my AMA on Twitter (I am not allowed to share it until we run the AMA). You can look for this tweet by clicking here.
  • Click the link in my tweet to go to the AMA and then click the text box to add your question(s).
  • Now just wait until I respond. Feel free to follow up, challenge my response, and otherwise have fun!

I hope to see you all tomorrow!

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