How to build a community

Published by David Gilson at 13:29 UTC, January 18th 2011

I'd like to draw your attention to blog post by a MeeGo community manager Jarkko Moilanen (aka kyb3R). This is a great story of how someone with an interest in the Hacker culture, and a background in attending Ubuntu LUGs went on to be responsible for building the "MeeGo Network Fi", the Finnish community for MeeGo development. In the post he explains how events unfolded for him to be in his current position, and the things that worked well, and not so well. I would rate this as a must read for anyone aspiring to form their own regional MeeGo group.

Here are some choice quotes from the post.

I was spending - as I usually do - my time on multiple IRC channels such as #ubuntu-fi-tiimit, #hackerspaces, #vapaakoodi, #linkku and #5w. One person I got to know in LUG meeting (or was it in one of the local hackerspace meetings) told me that MeeGo community is building local networks around the world.

So I started to work as a community manager. What next? What the heck am I supposed to do? What is a community manager? What MeeGo is exactly? Where do I begin? My mind was full of questions. To my relief, I soon found out that no-one knows exactly what a community manager does. So I decided to observe what Quim and Dawn were doing and read what ever I could find bout it. That is a task still under work. Next it was time to get familiar with the MeeGo and the community around it. So I joined the discussion lists and IRC channel. For some time I just lurked there, without doing nothing else but reading what the heck was going on. I also had already started to put all my ideas and information about our efforts to pages ( believed (and still do) in open discussion and this is after all open source project. This is something that some of the participants in MeeGo project do not seem to know or understand. Some prefer to stay hidden and trade behind the curtains (eg email agreements and such).

Once we (at Tampere) got things  on paper (or more precisely a slide show), I visited Helsinki MeeGo Network meetup in December and presented the idea of MeeGo Summit FI, which by the way was not the first name of the summit. It used to be ‘Meegolandia Open’. The name was not “liked” by Linux Foundation or some of the global community members. Some members thought that it was a great name. Anyway, it violated the MeeGo trademark. So, we negotiated with LF and other people involved about the name issue and found a mutually agreeable name. Long story short: don’t mess with trademarks. Or if you do, keep your voice down. Others (even among MeeGo community) do not seem to be so obedient as us.

In my opinion, our community is an example how a single off-topic line in non-MeeGo IRC channel can produce a regional MeeGo community (which has about 200 members) in a few months. A community which is ready to organize a regional Summit in the spring, is building teams, having conversations on mailing lists and irc channel and hold more or less regular meetups IRL! We must have done something right.


David Gilson for All About MeeGo, 18th January 2011

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