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From Rob Weir <>
Subject Re: [ApacheCon] BoF session on AOO community
Date Mon, 29 Oct 2012 03:33:44 GMT
On Sun, Oct 28, 2012 at 8:16 PM, Peter Junge <> wrote:
> On 9/27/2012 8:49 AM, Andrew Rist wrote:
>> On 9/24/2012 9:46 PM, Peter Junge wrote:
>>> Dear OpenOffice Community,
>>> During ApacheCon Europe 2012 (ACEU 2012;, we
>>> will hold a 90-minute session on the state of the community. Our topic
>>> is as broad as the community and includes discussion on how to develop
>>> and further the community of contributors and users making up AOO. We
>>> hope you can be there and add your voice! We seldom have opportunity
>>> to meet in person, and this will be a great occasion to go over where
>>> we are as a community, what we need to do to improve the operations of
>>> the community, and what can be done by us all to take AOO to top-level
>>> status. Everyone is invited—and to encourage you further to
>>> participate, we hope to welcome the Apache mentors who are helping AOO
>>> move ahead.
>>> At the moment, I'm responsible for this session but due to the fact
>>> that I'm located in Beijing I will not be able to attend in person.
>>> Hence, it would be great to find one or two volunteers to host this
>>> BoF session about the AOO community at the ApacheCon Europe.
>> I would be interested, Peter.
>> Andrew
> @Andrew, sorry for replying quite late, but I guess my first posting came to
> long before the event anyway.
> @All: Let's discuss what what could be talked about during the BoF session
> on AOO community in Sinsheim. (Note: I'm not attending the ApacheCon EU.)
> After reviewing a couple of threads in the mailing list archives, I'd like
> to point out the challenges below:
> 1) The challenge of dissimilarity of community and community culture: We've
> seen it in a couple of discussions on the mailing lists. The Apache Way and
> the former OOo community work quite different, a couple of time disagreement
> with the mentors arose. Apache is a community where committers leave their
> affiliations behind (at least in theory) while OOo was under the hood of a
> single company. At Apache the individual needs to earn merits to be promoted
> as a committer and later as a PMC member, while OOo everybody just could
> right away. Apache has a hierarchy of roles (contributor, committer, PMC)
> but no real leaders (except the PMC chair), while OOo didn't know such
> hierarchy but had appointed project leads who had certain administrative
> powers. At Apache, I assume, at least 80% are developers because so far the
> majority of projects were about producing software by developers for
> developers, while OOo and still AOO is a large piece of software for end
> users. At the old OOo community, and I guess many of them are still around
> but not visible here, more then half of the people involved were not
> developers, but many volunteers working on localization, QA, documentation,
> user support and marketing etc. The OOo community was strongly
> heterogeneous, many native language projects had their own websites and
> communication channels, detached from the core community. So, the first
> challenge is: How does that all fit into the Apache way, but still keeping
> the identity of OpenOffice and leaving room for the satellite communities
> that do great work e.g. by offering OO support in many different languages?

I don't know if I'd make this be a large focus.  Look around.  By my
count the majority of the current contributors to the project are new
to it from Apache.  They don't all have the baggage from OOo
experience.  They understand AOO on Apache terms.  We're doing it
Apache style.  It is working.  We're getting new language volunteers
every other day or so.  Maybe it is time to let go of OOo style
community thinking and embrace what we have at Apache.  It may not be
perfect.  But it is working.

> 2) The challenge producing end user software at Apache:
> As said above, Apache was so far (at least AFAIK) only producing software
> from developers for developers, contrarily AOO is an end user software. The
> former usually doesn't need any special promotion effort. Developers and
> users just come by if they need a particular piece of software. With an end
> user software like OpenOffice this is much different. AOO needs a big
> marketing effort to reach its users and constantly growing that user base.
> At the former OOo community many volunteers have been attending trade fairs
> (e.g. the CeBIT in Hanover, Germany) and innumerous other events to reach
> the public. Driving such efforts costs a fair amount of money that should
> not be solely shouldered by the volunteers who already contribute a fair
> mount of their time. So, the second challenge is, how to raise funds, either
> within or outside Apache, to continue with appropriate marketing efforts for
> AOO?

I think the challenge is to change the thinking that says a project
can only be successful if it raises money.

> 3) The challenge of building the community:
> The AOO community needs steadily working on developing the community by
> recruiting developers, QA, translators and people doing documentation and
> marketing. The third challenge is, how to reach them? A part of this effort
> can certainly go along with the former challenge as 'marketing to
> developers'. Being present at events usually reaches many different kinds of
> people.

The recent growth in translation volunteers is purely due to adding a
single paragraph to a few Native Language websites.  I think we
sometimes fail to appreciate how many people visit our websites and
how many are willing to volunteer, if only we would ask.  So before we
start fund-raising to send volunteers to conference to speak to 60
people in a room, let's try speaking to 250 thousand people who visit
our home page each day.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but we have not done a single "call for
volunteers" blog post, press release or feature on our home page since
this project started.  Isn't that the obvious way to start?  I think
so.  But I'm scared at the volume of responses we would probably get
from such a request.  That is why I am emphasizing getting our
documentation in order, identifying easy bugs, etc., so we can cope
with the volume of volunteers we will get.

The nice part of getting more volunteers is that we also increase our
geographical diversity. Right now we are pretty heavy in Hamburg and
Beijing forever.  If we can quadruple the number of volunteers over
the next year, and also the geographical diversity, then we should be
able to handle a lot more conferences with local volunteers, without
need for special travel expense reimbursement.  And if at the same
time we grow the number of people making money from AOO-related work,
then they may be willing to pay for themselves to promote AOO and
their own work.  That is why I am working on the consultants directory
and similar.

That's the way to grow.  Raising money to send the existing volunteers
to travel to more places is only growth for the airline industry.  It
is not growth for the project.  We need to find people who are able to
succeed in a business based on enhancing or supporting the OpenOffice
product to businesses and users..  A business based on promoting the
OpenOffice open source project is not really a business model.  I
don't think we want to encourage anyone to think of making a career as
a professional OpenOffice community manager or anything like that.

My opinion, for what it is worth.


> Other challenges are welcome.
> Best regards,
> Peter
> P.S: and there's still the challenge to find one or two moderators for that
> BoF session. Andrew, are you still willing?

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