I feel very fortunate that I was able to attend Community Leadership Summit ‘09, that happened past weekend in San Jose. As it was only just a few days away from OSCON ‘09, biggest open source convention in the world, the mix of participants was skewed towards open source projects. I’m really happy about this because it allowed me to how drastically different projects interact with their communities and better reflect on my own community work.
Being a Web 2.0 alpha invite geek, I was naturally attracted to discussions about tools and work-flows that are in use. While we all deal with communities on daily basis, we have vastly different metric and approaches toward them.
Taking a number of open source projects for example, there was a lot of talk about counting SVN commits, patch and bug triage and mailing list management (visualization, early flame-war thread detection, etc.). On top of that, having a clear roadmap and goals present an important value for community so that they know where the whole project is going. This is worlds apart from your classical Web 2.0 startup where you are worrying about signups, users engagement and the number of mentions on Twitter and blogs.
Yet this does not mean that we can’t learn from each other. While their values might be different, we all still need to define goals for our communities, listen to them and then work with them so that they can reach their goal together with you. It just means that we have to talk more in meta terms, so we can identify different patterns taking shapes and then we can learn from specific case studies.
Incidentally, it looks like that the tools we have access to today are way below the needs and requirements of most of communities. Tracking of interactions across different online mediums, aggregating bugs and feedback together or even simple things like mailing list management is something that lots of people found lacking. While most of them want their tools to be free and open, there is certainly a market for better tools to support a wide variety of communities that are starting to form online and offline.
What are people using for monitoring life of their community?
- PlanetPlanet + Feeds. Using Thunderbird to read the feeds and it’s failing.
- Governance issues with the regards to what should be posted to planet.
- Google Shared items to publish moderated items
- Frequent bloggers extra feature inside PlanetPlanet
- Don’t planet this tag
- SVN-search – a way to view SVN history of certain open-source projects. Lifetime history of the project, which commiters contributed mail.
- Apache-attic – ability to mark dead communities within Apache
- Public message boards between anybody else on the site. [WikiAnswers.com]
- The question is whether they should be public or not.
Delegation – as a community management tool. When the community becomes so big that you can’t manage it, you have to delegate and give more power to specific users.
- [Invent] A special delegation tool
- Different projects have their own internal dashboards that helps them asses their community and decide who are important contributors to the project. They usually aggregate a number of scripts that aggregate different stats and parts of community (forums, bugs, commits, etc.)
- Ubuntu is trying to track community contributions. If you do non-technical things, they would like to be able to track it and give you karma points for this and to be able to help you.
- In order to keep people to motivated, you have to validate their contributions and find a way to track them and their community contributions.
- MeatBot – figure out who is actually doing stuff in contrast to who is just talking
- What happens when people try to gain the system. Community managers are afraid of users gaming the system? How do you reward or contribute that?
- Are there any visualization tools for past data/archives and can help with identifying important community contributions?
- GetSatisfaction – emoticons to express feelings and make a better tool
- StackOverflow – karma system that gives you points based on the amount of your contributions, that gives you extra features as you gain more points
Brand tracking tools:
- We need a dashboard of dashboards
Social Tracking Tools:
- Need a reason for monitoring? It shows people that you are listening.
- Job title: Professional listener
Tools that should exist:
- Mozilla is doing a Community CRM – a tool that has information on everyone on community, short bio and their involvement in community + API that allows you to write a JetPacks etc. that show you more information about that person.
- It’s being built on City CRM tool. Open source customer relationship tool.
- The community must look small, to make it grow bigger.
- Similar project is django-people
- Visual relationship tool for email mailing lists
- Mailman archives that don’t suck
- Mailman archives GreaseMonkey script