Community Leadership Summit Wiki

Microcontributions to open source[]

How to solve the "spike" problem, where people do a big push, but then drop off because it's too much work to sustain.

Daniel (@dhedlund) is starting a group in Portland for people who want to contribute to open source, on a regular basis. Could be coding or could be other things. Like a book club for contributing.

Hack night where it's not just "bring your project", but actually a culture of contribution, and provides suggestions of small things to hack on.

How to solve the book club problem of "not reading the book"? How do you agree on what to work on?

Have a very clear mission, e.g., Mozilla or Linux kernel.

There needs to be a higher-order thing to work towards, beyond the first contribution.

Projects can be intimidating to get involved in, so it may help to have geographic face-to-face support. It can be easier to be welcoming on a local level.

Julython is a commit contest for Python. Local pride, time-boxed, creates urgency.

Look at people who are already in the community, and what motivated them to stay. Identify why people leave, and remove that.

Membership in an organization or project becomes an expression of personal identity -- part of who I am.

Create a system that emails you a bug (or three bugs) to work on every week.

Meetup group meeting just on getting the tools set up to contribute, to overcome the startup costs for contributing.

It's important to mark the "low hanging fruit" or "easy first bugs", and experienced devs explicitly avoid fixing them, and even volunteer to mentor newcomers through them.

Depending on who shows up at a meetup group, they may need different levels of mentorship or guidance.

Non code contributions

Documentation can't all be done with microcontributions, but things like fixing typos can be an entry point. The less process (more wiki-like), the easier it is to contribute.

Mozilla also has Army of Awesome, for users to support other users via Twitter. The Mozilla support forum also makes it easy to find questions that haven't been answered.

Corporate support

Khan Academy has a program by which its staff developers can give money to support an open source project. They know they don't have time to give time, so they give money instead.

Companies can use this type of support, which doesn't take a lot of money, to advertise themselves as supporting open source.