Brussels / 1 & 2 February 2020


Building a thriving community in company-led open source projects

Community matters in corporate open source

Traditional open source projects involve contributors from different organizations with the goal of addressing a common challenge for participating organizations or even the entire industry. Today, there are also many companies with businesses built around open source software. At first glance, it may seem impossible to build an open and authentic community for a company-based open source project when you need to balance the needs of the company with those of the community. In this talk, you will find that there are actually a lot similarities between contributors in company-based and traditional open source projects. Additionally, it is possible to build a thriving community by satisfying the intrinsic motivation of contributors and providing opportunities for community members to have a voice in how the community (or even the business) is run. The presenter will also discuss how they transitioned from working as a community manager in foundation-based projects to a company-based open source project.

Some of the attributes of successful open source projects include welcoming diverse viewpoints, lowering barriers to entry, being responsive to community contributions, and remaining transparent about decision making. When you are building a community for a company-based open source project, there’s no reason why you can not incorporate most (if not all) of these aspects.

Additionally, community members often decide to get involved in an open source community (whether it is company-based or otherwise) because they are passionate about the technology, culture, and/or other members of the community. So when you are building a community in a company-based open source project, it is important to understand your members’ (especially intrinsic) motivations and to focus on cultivating an environment where community members can have a fulfilling experience. In your community, you may also be able to provide opportunities for professional growth (e.g. in programming, leadership, collaboration, and other skills) that community members can benefit from.

There are of course differences between company-based and traditional open source communities, and you will need to adopt different approaches in areas such as communications, community governance, metrics, recognition, etc. The presenter will be sharing their learnings, including their transition from traditional open source communities to a (for-profit) open source company.


Photo of Ray Paik Ray Paik