Community Leadership Summit Wiki

Andy Piper @andypiper[]


What do we mean by "slow burn" - communities that grow over a long period of time, how do you sustain passion and interest over an extended period of time - may take years to "take off". Tools, techniques, discussion.

Andy intro: background at VMware/Pivotal and, before that, IBM

MQTT: IBM experience: How did you stay passionate about an OSS project for 6 years as it slowly moves along with certain spurts?

Cloud Foundry experience: “This week in” blog as a way to get the word out and keep new stuff constantly out and get people talking. Have weekly report summing all the community happenings. People may connect with the start point.

Discussions: - "status quo" slow burn communities needs new influx folks to renew, bring something new to the community to help kick up the engagement

Set objectives: pm the community, look at objectives before resources

How do you set governance? How do you balance between corporate and tech community needs?

"What sustains the community that sustains the project?"

How do you balance between tech community and non-tech user community needs?

  • Buy in?
  • Top down?
  • Debate?

(Ushahidi example: tech contributors want interesting technologies and the non-tech community users want it to work right away in different languages and for different continents).

How do set strong leadership and decision-making?

Who has access to the head, master? 

  • One tactic is to allow community members to each have blogs, but that was very scary from the corporate perspective because it can highlight certain voices/points of view that don't help the goal for unified leadership.
  • People like shiny things and progress, so it is important to break down the shiny things. One example to focus on month-long projects that can be announced to the community. Gives a sense of small wins. (eg. Fetlife - they noticed one fewer comment than usual, then noticed a trickle off of traffic, and then more - so learned from that mistake).
  • People can't grasp the big picture.
  • How do you effectively create ambassadors? Need to grow leadership from the top.

Large communities

  • quorum wont work, do your best balance
  • Personalities within the communities:
    • Some are diehards no matter what and help push forward the slow burn, contribute code, etc. "I accept this as a slow burn process and will enjoy it as such"
    • Some will quickly jump off as soon as you don't stay on schedule with hot news. In some ways, you can't completely control that behavior.
  • "Marketing"
    • Sell the community as a slow-burn community to set expectations
    • Email blindness with updates etc, be careful internally with over publicity / noise
    • Don't need to sell the whole vision because people have trouble wrapping their heads around that. Maybe sell that to a small community (maybe ambassadors). Then others will join when they see that something cool is happening. People want to join something cool, not necessarily a vision.

If bit rot is occurring in your community, break down projects to small chunks so that folks can celebrate the wins, time bound-brings life and trust

Can you sell value and appreciate that the project is a slow burn rather than the quick hits

You need to get buy in with the small steps, people don't necessarily want to be part of a vision but the the ask or a particular component

modularize things put to give the power of committing and they can own that part: helps with scale Finally - dealing with burnout personally... how do we as community leaders handle that?

  • Ushahidi example - they establish partners and have weekly check ins with each other


How to go from a "big flash" project start and keep it going? it may be a long haul

Avoid "bit rot" of community, demonstrate constant progress, break down tasks and be very public, celebrate the small ongoing successes

Identifying leaders and ambassadors - the core / kernel of a project. "you need to continuously grow leadership"

Dealing with the creation of a new culture - having that "moment of introspection" - what's the objective and mission statement, what's the long term goal

Governance - who leads

Have backup for your leaders and accept that projects are "rough and smooth", will have moments of lull or personal burnout