The Open Source Way:Creating and nurturing communities of contributors

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This guide is for helping people to understand how to and how not to engage with community over projects such as software, content, marketing, art, infrastructure, standards, and so forth. It contains knowledge distilled from years of Red Hat experience, which itself comes from the many years of experience of individual upstream contributors who have worked for Red Hat.

Let your audience do your PR. They're pleasantly biased and decidedly not you.

A bit of wisdom from Rands that applies to communities and contributions - they are pleasantly biased and decidedly not you.


Pretty and handy book format

This content is converted regularly to other formats for web and printing publication:

The above documents were rebuilt and reposted on 2009-02-05 to remove Red Hat-specific content that wasn't relevant to the world at large.

Wiki upstream content -- the raw content workshop

This is The Open Source Way wiki upstream. It is ready for you to read and add to.

  1. The Open Source Way: Creating and nurturing communities of contributors -- Main wiki page
  2. Introduction -- What this book is, what it is not, essential terminology (definitions and pointers)
  3. Communities of practice -- The science behind the open source way
  4. How to loosely organize a community -- Structure of a sustainable community
  5. Stuff everyone knows and forgets anyway -- Common knowledge, common mistakes, common recoveries
  6. What your organization does correctly when practicing the open source way -- Distilled "Right Way"
  7. What your organization does wrong when practicing the open source way -- Distilled "Wrong Way"
  8. Business the open source way -- Applying the open source way to business
  9. Who else to watch -- People in the wider world who write, talk, and lead community-oriented discussions and actions
  10. Books you should read -- Online and offline resources
  11. Community Architecture dashboard -- Overview of this effort with pointers
  12. Data and references -- Data and references that support the book
  13. How to tell if a FLOSS project is doomed to FAIL - A system for evaluating the potential of an open source project
  14. Appendix -- What fits not elsewhere but only here

Contributing to this content

A specific goal of this book is to have a community write about community.

This wiki is the upstream for the book and is where all of the collaboration on writing takes place. We can then form wiki-specific processes over time within the authoring community. That process is written up in Contributing to The Open Source Way.

A second step is the conversion of the content in to DocBook XML for publication. That process is written up in Converting to DocBook XML.

The DocBook XML source is kept in a git repository at . Details on getting accessing, using, and contributing to that repository are in Contributing to The Open Source Way and Using git repository.

The Big task list is a good place to start.

How to contribute

Here is the status on the parts of this project you can contribute to, as of 2010-02-16:

  • Wiki - any user can create a new user account
    1. Read and understand the Contribution policy.
      • If you have any questions about the policy, contact the contributors via the mailing list; read Contacts for ore information.
    2. Contact an existing user.
      • Try searching the [[User:]] pages.
    3. Have that user follow the instructions on the page How to create a user account.
  • DocBook XML - posting git repository ASAP
    • Start by talking to quaid
  • Mailing list - Pending.
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