Community Leadership Summit Wiki

Desperately Seeking Users[]


Communities are self-centered on developers and active members of the community.

What about users (of the software, of the community events, of the neighborhood parties)?

A community needs its users (a software product without users does not exist, ...).

Users have resources that the community could benefit from.

But most "pure" users behave as consumers (this is true for software, and also for neighborhood communities, and in general for all communities).

The purpose of this session is to discuss means to attract users and make them more involved in the community.

  • what is the value proposition for users?
  • what is there position in the community?


Point 1: What do we want from the users ?

  • we want to know what they are using
  • we want to know what they want

-> collecting data can be done with tools (tracking) But most users will still remain passive users.

Make it simple for users to give feedback, it has to be as simple as possible for users.

Point 2: It is hard to get people involved Need to have a compelling reason for people to get involved.

(Jeff) You should make it clear what you want from users. Ask them what you want. Make sure that they are motivated.

Note that there are different levels of users: individual users, corporate users, with different interests.

Keep / install a channel of discussion with your users.

(Cedric) In the conventional software world, there are user groups (have existed for a long time) exist, there are marketing resources behind it.

Make it easy for users to submit new feature requests.

Encourage social capabilities of users. Different avenues of participations : ex of Fedora.

The getting involved page displays increasingly difficult ways of getting involved, as a ladder: at the top of the page, you find easy ways to participate, and harder ways at the bottom.

You need to follow user requests. A good way is a forum system where it is easy to ask questions, easy to answer. Make sure to always answer user requests. This will require resources.

Encourage people who got an answer to become contributors to answers in turn. e.g. 2 days after sending them the answer, send them e-mail encouraging them to answer the mailing list.

Do not force the issue of making a community when there is no interest, no legitimate reason to have a community. There must be some sense of sharing.

How to get case studies / how to get users to speak up? MariaDB: tell users that we need success stories, put easily accessible links on the website.

Explain why it is important to have success stories. Advocacy programme -> e.g. pay their trips or their conference fees

Is it just PR and marketing?

It takes some time to go from "us and you the user" to "us" (users becoming part of the community)

Adam (Fedora) -> process !! Adam loves processes. Document the existing processes which are not documented. Make it really comprehensive. Then, incite users to be part of the process. Stick to the process.

Say "here is exactly what you can do" instead of "please help". Different categories/segment of users :

- developers, strategy guys, managers

- MySQL : categories in a pyramid

  1. basic (mostly inactive users, never tell anybody, but increase download numbers)
  2. the ones who talk to their friends
  3. the ones who are active and speak out
  4. the evangelists

You need to keep the evangelists. Be careful about evangelists (personas) who are passionate, and thus can say bad things. Have conversations about evangelists before changes. You need to give increasing attention to users according to the categories.

Don't spend too many resources on basic users. It is a question of resources (we have limited resources to spend).

MJ: Be respectful with users: be careful with the term you use to describe basic users. It is OK if they don't participate. They have a value anyway.

How to move users up the pyramid? Give incentives to users -> ex get free service if they report bugs

Doug: counter argument: if you ask basic users to do something, maybe they will.

Example of crash report features to get data out of all users. This turns passive users into active users.

Back to making it EASY for users to contribute, AND showing them the value of such contributions.


Doug - help bring a non contributing user to contribute more - communicate about what you need done, tell them what they can do, document the processes, make them easy for users to contribute (automate), show them the value of it, give them some incentive