On Developer Communities...
I hold the following hypotheses about successful, growing, and thriving developer communities:
- First, you need a team builder.
- You can run a company like a user group, but the inverse is not always true.
- Quality always works.
- People are not resources or assets.
- Don't go away.
Each hypothesis is accompanied by one or more "anti-hypotheses" - clues that you are not participating in a sustainable developer community.
Keep On Truckin'
The secret key to growing a developer community is (drum roll please): Keep it going.
That sounds a bit anti-climatic, doesn't it? But this is what I've been writing about for five posts now: The details of how to keep it going. This is all well and good when things are going peachy. But it's in the darkness that the light shines brightest.
There will be darkness. Some days things will not get done. There will be gaps and some people will be disappointed and others will leave the group. A vociferous minority will fire off emails or blog posts describing their disappointment as they go.
They will name names and call down fire. It will not be pretty.
I think it was Winston Churchill who said "If you're going through hell, keep going." The gist is simple: When the going gets tough, get tough right back.
Anti-hypothesis: If your user group leadership does not respond to criticism well, you are participating in a dysfunctional community.
If it was easy, anyone could do it. But it's not easy, and therefore requires an impassioned developer community advocate to see the job through. You're going to make mistakes - we all do. You're going to have to deal with jerks. It's part of the job my friend.
My Granny used to tell me: "Boy, God gave you a backside so you'd have somewhere to land when you fall." The moral? You will fall down. Get back up again. Keep going and do not go away, and just watch what happens!