When the Community is Organized, Development (and Life) Get Easier

by Ostatic Staff - Mar. 02, 2009

At the Southern California Linux Expo (SCaLE) late last month, Ubuntu community manager, Jono Bacon, spoke to attendees about community, and why it means so much to open source projects. Ryan Paul at Ars Technica put together a concise, informative overview of Bacon's SCaLE talk.

Bacon says that community -- and building a sense of belonging -- are crucial to growing and maintaining any open source project. No doubt this is due to the heavy element of voluntary participation in the open source world, but the "belonging" concept is one that any project or company -- open or closed, with paid employees or non-compensated volunteers (or any mix of the two) -- would benefit from applying to its management techniques. It is, without argument, one of open source's strongest traits.

Paul writes in his summary that one of the biggest challenges Bacon has faced with the Ubuntu community's rapid growth was to break the project down into smaller teams. The teams consist of individuals working on a particular aspect of the project -- advocacy, training, documentation -- but there's another small group organizational structure in the form of the LoCo Teams.

LoCo teams are a bit different than the usual Linux User Groups (LUGs) in that they are Ubuntu (or Ubuntu-derivative) specific. These breakdowns make managing (and feeling like an important part of a larger community) easier, but when it's all said and done, there are still a lot of smaller groups that need a quick, easy way of finding, communicating, and interacting with each other.

Bacon posted on his blog today that the LoCo directory proposed at the last Ubuntu Developer Summit is currently under development. The directory is a database of the LoCo teams listed in the current wiki and aims for a clean, easy to assimilate interface to help new users (and other LoCo groups) connect.

It's a wise move, as projects benefit as much from new members and their contributions (even if -- or maybe even moreso -- they are completely new to Linux) as they do from long-standing supporters. Because finding and contacting a local group is so easily put off by prospective new members, anything the larger project can do to help interested parties find their local contacts simply and quickly can only result in a stronger community.