On Thursday I’m presenting on Code Review for Systems Administrators at OSCON, but was delighted to be able to to come up to Portland a couple days early to join my peers and colleagues at the Community Leadership Summit. Back in 2011 I attended a Community Leadership Summit West, but this was my first time attending the original event.
I arrived Friday night and was able to meet up with my Portland friend B.J. Brown for some burgers and an obligatory doughnut run to Voodoo Doughnut (I got one with Tang on it).
Saturday morning CLS kicked off! I was able to meet up with a number of people I’d met before, like Emma Marshall from System76:
As well as meeting a whole bunch of great people I hadn’t met before, including colleagues from HP and OpenStack.
The first session I attended was one on “Dealing with negative feedback” which had a lot of interesting ideas about soliciting and processing general feedback. The interesting parts of the discussion came up during the difficult problems to solve, like when the community wants things that the governing community or company can’t accommodate. Transparency tended to be the governing takeaway from most problems, when the community understands the reasons and goals behind decisions they are more likely to be sympathetic to decisions being made. It was also amusing to have the definition of Internet Troll be brought up during the discussion so we could discuss how to deal with actual trolls and differentiate these from just unhappy community members who probably mean well. Attendees put notes here.
After lunch I went to a session on Mindful Leadership. It was centered around the core focus of taking care of yourself so you can be more refreshed, energized and empathetic toward your community. Thanks to Van Riper for this reminder, and a session that started with a mindful breathing exercise!
Another interesting session on Saturday was “Gamification, it doesn’t work for me, does it work for you?” where I learned I have really mixed feelings about gamification. It seems I like it when it’s for “fun” stuff (fitbit for steps, untappd for beers) but when it gets into my serious hobbies/work I am really bothered by it. I think my issue is actually poorly implemented gamification that creates arbitrary goals that don’t otherwise create much value for the individual or the project/organization. At best a poorly implemented system just wastes time, at worst it ends up being demotivating as people with a lot of time collect badges and leave others feeling like they can never keep up. I think what I most enjoyed about this session was learning that there were other people out there who felt a bit squeamish about the trend to gamify everything.
At 4PM we gathered outside for a group photo:
I also really enjoyed the session about managing communities of ambassadors and the discussion also covered user groups related to the technology. It was interesting to hear how some groups had planned communities built around individuals (Mozilla ambassador program) while others just have self-appointed local organizers who have to meet certain criteria to be part of the directory (Google Developer Groups) and others that seem to just have organically grown communities that don’t yet have much centralized control by the core project (OpenStack and WordPress groups). Topics included recognition for contributors, benefits of having folks to contact in different geographical areas, dealing with concerns over misrepresentation and some tips for handling shipping of swag (weight and customs concerns may alter what to ship where). Attendees put session notes here.
On Sunday, after a few requests by attendees to explain it, my colleague Mark Atwood and I proposed a session on “OpenStack Gated Trunk Continuous Integration and How it Shapes a Community.”
Mark stood and led the session as I chimed in as support. Not only was it a well-attended session, but it was exciting to talk about the work that’s being done in OpenStack with CI and the technical and social processes that have built up around it. I’m really proud to be a part of a community that puts code review so front and center in the development process and all the automated testing is something that I’m really happy to see more open source projects starting to embrace. This talk led to several more conversations throughout the day and invitations to have folks come to my OSCON talk where I’ll talk about some of the components in more detail ;) Thanks to @zahedab who took a photo of the session, available here:
And thanks to Deirdré Straughan who took the session notes, available here.
In the afternoon I went to a session about Certification and Training programs. It was interesting to hear that there has been discussion in the OpenStack community about some kind of certification program and very early stage ideas floating around for development and deploying training. I also got to share some of my own experiences with the now defunct Ubuntu Certified Professionals course and the largely unsuccessful community efforts around developing classes. Deirdré of Joyent shared some of her experience about the in-house work they’ve done developing and doing training on products on and around their technologies.
The other session of the day that stood out for me was about handling open source communities that operate alongside paid developer teams. I was excited to learn that Citrix is still paying pure open source developers on Xen now that it’s transitioned to a Linux Foundation Collaboration Project (though I mostly use kvm these days, I do still have a soft spot for Xen, and not just because of their awesome mascot). It was also an interesting exercise for me to contrast my experiences with Ubuntu and OpenStack, being on such different spectrums of centralized control (Ubuntu having a major controlling company, OpenStack actively making sure that doesn’t happen). The consensus from many of the attendees tended to be that when managing a mixed community transparency and communication matter the most. Do companies contributing need to worry that a single company will run off with the product? Do individuals contributing feel animosity toward paid developers? Finally, it is always exciting to be in a discussion with other deeply open source people who are all now paid to do the work they love, “open source is no longer that thing you do nights and weekends because you had to – now it’s your job.”
I wasn’t great at at taking photos (I only took a handful), but Benjamin posted over 350 here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bkerensa/sets/72157634723613485/
Now, on to OSCON!