What should a community manager do?

Rod Whitby rod at whitby.id.au
Sun Oct 12 04:43:59 CEST 2008

Lorn Potter wrote:
> Rod Whitby wrote:
>> I'm sorry, but I don't believe one single community manager can cross
>> the divide between the "developer" and "user" mindsets that I spoke
>> about in my reply to your earlier post.
> I disagree. I have been doing exactly that for the last 5 years. Trying 
> to anyway. I believe a community manager can only be _one_ person.

OK, for a single distribution (note that Openmoko currently has 5
different "Openmoko" distributions, not including Qtopia and Debian), I
agree with you.

But for the current state of Openmoko, I still believe it's too much for
one person.

> To have a user mindset, you simply need to use what you're trying to 
> evangelize everyday. You see the difficulties of actually using something.

Fully agree.  The trouble we have today is that there are so many
half-finished, half-working distributions (and everyone is swapping
between them constantly trying to find something that works) that nobody
is getting any benefit from a synergy like that.  Qtopia and Debian are
the exceptions, because they are mature distributions with existing
communities to which a new device is being added.  The group of 5
(2007.X, 2008.X, FDOM, FSO, SHR) are the distributions I'm mainly
referring to.

> To work with the user community in this fashion, you need to care about 
> and understand the flaws the software may have (in terms of bugs and 
> usability) and the reasoning the developers may have done a particular 
> thing. Only a developer can do this part, and only a developer can work 
> with the developer community.

Fully agree with this too.  However, Openmoko currently has about five
or six distinct developer communities and about the same number of
distinct user communities as well.  There is absolutely no way one
person can cover all that.

So for each distribution (e.g. Qtopia, Debian, ...) I fully agree that
having a single community manager that covers both users and developers
is the ideal situation.

Unfortunately, the current situation with Openmoko is so far off the
track (IMHO), that it will need multiple managers just to get it back on

-- Rod

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