BarCamp PDX: Communities Gone Awry session

I facilitated this discussion, which is why my notes may suck more than usual.


Online consensus?

– Hierarchy (org charts)
– Total democracy, or representative
– Dictator, active or inactive

Effect of using a distributed SCM on governance?

Respect is critical to being listened to …

The importance of people who are catalysts (why? no clue, but they make things work). What motivation do they have to volunteer? The gratitude of others.

How to keep communities close-knit as they grow?
– Manifesto saying what’s acceptable, with an enforcer!
– Create smaller communities
– People to connect these communities
– One person can ruin an entire team: vetting new community members
– A “boot camp” for new members to intensively indoctrinate them to the social norms
– The buddy system: mentorship

Book: The Tipping Point

Dunbar’s number: maximum number of people who can work together. 150 to 300, depending on how strictly they’re indoctrinated

How do you tell whether someone’s really indoctrinated to the social norms? What criteria?

BarCamp PDX: Collaboration in Communities session

Dawn Foster, one of the BarCamp PDX organizers, is facilitating this discussion. She’s interested in how people build communities.

How is collaboration changing within communities? Moving from mailing lists, newsgroups to blogs, wikis, forums …

Face to face (F2F) interactions build more trust than you get online.

How to bring non-technologists into online communities? Knitting is one of the biggest of these.

People treat each other differently F2F than online. Educating newer generations in social norms, cultural differences, etc all play a role.

How do you find forums moderators, e.g.? Let people who might want to contribute know where you need help. Not just technical but someone to set the expectations for community norms. Important to create a sub-community for the moderators.

Communities self-organize their structures more than being placed into a hierarchy.

Network weaving: intentionally creating tighter and more connections within groups. People apparently do this for a living?

Building a strong community, from a corporate standpoint (or any project), means that people have got your backs when bad PR comes up. Give trust to your community, and they’ll reciprocate. Companies have done this forever as product advisory councils, which also provides a beta testbed.

Building an internal corporate community is required before you can build a strong external community. And letting your internal engineers or whatever hear real customers firsthand sometimes makes the difference. Connect the creators to the users.

Business models move more toward ecosystems and away from your traditional corporate structure. Away from a two-state system and toward a spectrum — no longer just producer vs consumer.

When do bloggers become marketers? Are they still impartial if some company pays them to blog about its products? Does it matter?

More stuff. Funny relevant comic at

OSCON talk proposals

The deadline for proposing ideas for OSCON talks was Monday at 11:59 p.m. Naturally I clicked Submit for the final time not long before then, at 11:56 p.m. Note I said “final time,” implying more than one—I decided to go all-out and submit three ideas, in hopes that at least one will slip through. For the curious, they are

  • Design and publish beautifully and professionally: How to create a professional-looking document, using Scribus and Inkscape. Many people who read this probably don’t realize I spent four years working as a page designer and copy editor at newspapers. I continue that interest today as editor of a newsletter about open-source activity for the Open Source Educational Laboratory at Oregon State.
  • Community dynamics in a large open-source project: Problems, solutions and conundrums in Gentoo. The funniest (and saddest) part is when the same things begin to repeat themselves, and nobody else remembers last time it happened.
  • Open-source software in the biosciences: Where we are and what we learned on the voyage: The cruel joke of scientists as programmers. As a grad student in biochemistry at OSU, I’ve had to deal with more ugly software than many of you can imagine. But at least more of it is open source now, right?

Anyone else submit proposals? I’d be interested to hear what they’re about.