A community of technology community managers, leaders, and builders.

CLS16: Everybody 🎔 transparency


Transparency is very important to communities, it’s sometimes hard to get out the right amount of information, to convince others to be transparent, to write meeting notes. Also how much and which information is useful to your community?

Problems discussed:

  • one project: lots of information, hard to find for newcomers. all info in repositories.
  • problem in organising information
  • another project: how to get team/person to be transparent?
  • in companies:
  • how much internal information can you release?
  • insecurities about being unsure or being perceived as unsure / not having a plan
  • no sharing of information outside the project
  • how much effort put into releasing information? is it worth it? to how many is it useful?
  • one problem many face is discoverability of information - the raw data is available, but for example irc discussions are not summarised
  • some project which tagged chat conversation, so it was searchable
  • many websites, all do announcements, information gets lost in the noise
  • signal/noise problems
  • newsletters:
  • talks about new projects
  • ubuntu weekly news: struggle to get stories, post online, not mailed to people
  • do people don’t want to share news? “are my news relevant enough?”
  • fsf: get more and more subscribers, almost every page advertises it, once a month
  • in general: try to optimise you get information quickly
  • teams fill out reports in joomla, once a month
  • people don’t unsubscribe if it’s really low-volume, let people know that it’s low-volume
  • printed news letter works well at fsf, for paying members (12 pages every 6 months)
  • use a specific hashtag to get a feeling for how well it’s received
  • get more community feedback, people feel like they are part of the decisions
  • some content can be be automatically obtained, but not all
  • team report: ask people do something, even if it’s just a small paragraph
  • social media: super useful, best to stay up to date
  • in companies: some new hires, depending where they come from: expectation to default to open/closed
  • in companies:
  • increasing transparency so company internal information gets out there
  • people who get that information become advocates
  • sometimes: notion that “we shouldn’t have to explain ourselves”
  • make people understand that there’s not just “legal harm”, but also “harm in the community”
  • better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission
  • if there’s pushback, ask what their concern is
  • when you’re not transparent, there’s less chance to improve


  • planet useful - can aggregate information from various subcommunities
  • team leads have to do team reports, raise expectations
  • anyone on the team should be able to report
  • send automatic reminders if they don’t send a report
  • add a raffle prize to a newsletter, ask people to tweet
  • make the responsibility part of the job to write an article


Lack of discoverability makes your project opaque, even if you aren’t doing it intentionally.

Having teams only work in their own silo can cause a lack of transparency within a project

Newsletters won’t be read if they are too big

Set expectations within your teams that they are required to produce regular team reports.

Use existing activities (like meeting minutes) as the source for team reports,so they don’t become an additional burden

The FSF still sends printed newsletters twice a year, they are well read (based on feedback form readers, and use of a hashtag included on them). Teams are expected to write newsletters articles.

Proposal to have a raffle to give away a prize to people who share your newsletter on social media

Thanks to for being the kind sponsor for this forum!