It’s official. I am the new PMC Lead for the Technology Project. It’s all about the power. All must kneel before Zod. Actually… it’s all about responsibility. That, and the power to crush your enemies. Can you tell that I’m of two minds?
As a few of you are already aware, I’ve started a process of going through the many projects that fall under the Technology Top-level project. I’m reviewing these projects for a couple of reasons: first, I need to know more about what they do, why they exist, and where they are going. I want to be able to effectively tell people about these projects. Second, I want to make sure that these projects are doing the right sorts of things to set themselves up for success.
I’ve decided to go through them alphabetically, so ACTF and Albireo have been the first to
suffer my wrath benefit from some gentle prodding (Voice Tools Project, feel free to start without me). I’ve been looking the projects over with an eye for liveliness. Active participation by project committers is certainly a part of that, but I’m more interested in the community being developed around the project. At Eclipse, the community is king.
I’m looking for a few things:
Is the project’s information complete and up-to-date? Does the project’s web page contain enough information that readers have a fighting chance of understanding what the project is all about and what it provides? Is the content grammatically and technically correct? Is the project-info page complete? Is there a project plan? Is it easy to find? An important part of developing a community is making the barrier for entry as low as possible; making your web presence as complete and correct as possible goes a long way in this regard.
How big/active is the community? This is difficult to quantify, but you can get a general feeling by looking at the activity on the newsgroups and mailing lists. Are the project’s committers engaging with their community on their newsgroup(s) (i.e. are they answering questions in a timely manner)? I look at the Bugzilla records: are folks other than the project committers raising bugs? I also look at download statistics.
FWIW, all projects should have at least one member monitor eclipse.newcomer.
How does the project define their community? Developing a community is easier if you know who your target audience is.
How is the project engaging the community? Does the project have at least one member blogging regularly? Is that blog aggregated on Planet Eclipse? Is it aggregated elsewhere? What conferences are project committers speaking at? What other forums are being used?
I’m approaching this in a how-can-I-help-you-help-yourself manner. The fact of the matter is that I don’t have any real sticks that I can use in this role. Despite what some of you may have heard to the contrary, I don’t generally like using sticks anyway (I’m more into the empty-hand thing). I hope that you all agree, that developing that all-important community is important and that we can work together to make it happen.