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Fostering Community Engagement

Within the Open Source Ecosystem, millions of projects exist and some of the projects are duplicate efforts. The open source community is vast and sometimes very hard to reach.

In order to have a wide-reaching, impactful project, it has to stand out. Stand out not in the way where, I have an awesome project that is going to make an impact, but more along the line of - my project solves a problem and the project can be improved upon. We want to ensure that there is longevity within a project. /

When trying to maintain your open source project, you need to give people a reason to be there! We are all aware about forks and stars, but these are very straight forward when it comes to leveraging and learning from your community within your project. As a community manager and maintainer, you will need to identify clearly what solutions your project poses and build that out on a grand scale.

Before starting out in the initial project creation phase, here are some questions that you should think about:

  • Determine what your project could do for the for the community
  • Is your project worth its weight on its own or could it be a feature enhancement to another larger project?
  • Can it be incubated into a foundation in the future?
  • Do you have the ability to support it?

If you answered yes to many of the questions listed above, you can follow the guide below to see how you can make your project a success.


Build and nurture relationships with your community members:

  • The success of your project starts with the community manager
  • They need to build and maintain relationships with community members, including contributors, users, and other stakeholders.

Develop and execute a community strategy:

  • These include defining goals, identifying target audiences
  • Target best formats on where to reach your community (GitHub discussions, Discord, Slack)
  • Develop an action plan to meet the goals of your strategy

Provide support and guidance:

  • Strong community leaders need to be available to provide support and guidance to community members which including answering questions, addressing concerns, and helping to resolve conflicts

Foster a sense of community:

  • Success of a project is based on the community manager and maintainers willingness to create a sense of community among members by encouraging collaboration, communication, participation and gratitude for your external teams.

Monitor and analyze community and project metrics:

  • Community managers and maintainers need to track, analyze project and community metrics.
  • These metrics can include engagement, community growth, and project success, issues open vs. closed, number of new contributors, number of new consumers and SLA times
  • These can be done with forks and stars are good examples of other metrics not based on consumption and contribution factors

Encourage, recognize and incentives for contributions:

  • Strong projects have team members that encourage and recognize contributions from external contributors, including code contributions, documentation, and community outreach

Facilitate communication:

  • Connect with your communities including providing channels for discussion and feedback

Manage project resources:

  • Manage the project resources such as time, budget, team members to ensure the project's success through clear guidance and goals
  • Manage the backlog of enhancement requests with coordinating SLA times

Promote the project:

  • A successful open source community manager will promote the project to new potential users and contributors
  • Leverage social media, blog posts, and conferences
  • Create stickers and swag for the project

Manage project documentation:

  • Transparency and creating a low barrier for entry starts at the source, the repo
  • Manage project documentation, including maintaining documentation, organizing it, and making it accessible to community members

Facilitate events and meetups:

  • Facilitate events and meetups, including organizing and coordinating logistics, creating agendas, and promoting events

Foster a culture of inclusivity:

  • A successful open source community manager fosters a culture of inclusivity among community members, including promoting diversity and encouraging respectful behavior

Manage conflict:

  • Unfortunately conflict can arise within an open source project or community
  • Community managers need to manage conflict which can include resolving disputes and enforcing community guidelines.

Stay up-to-date with industry trends:

  • A successful open source community manager needs to stay up-to-date with industry trends, developments, new issues to ensure the project remains relevant and reliable

Continuously improve the project:

  • Solicit feedback from community members, contributors, consumers, newbies to identify areas for improvement
  • After the feedback sessions you can begin to implement changes to address those areas

Further Reading