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CLS 2015 session notes: Single Company Controlled Projects

Volunteering for a Company

  • Taking care of volunteers
    • “Paid staff file taxes, you fix bugs”
  • Volunteer empowerment
  • Buy-in, defines direction, on boards/committees
  • Having say in the direction of an organization creates buy in
  • Lots of projects have paid contributors

Expectations of company

  • Expectation that the company is in charge, does everything


  • Decisions must happen in public
  • Change in decision process is painful
  • Unclear decision processes are painful


  • Ubuntu has a lot of unpaid, volunteer contributors
  • Started as a Debian offshoot project
    • Grew out of that.
  • Canonical served to drive the project
  • Not always the only one steering the ship


  • final decisions are made by who wants to make those decisions
    • usually also best spoken people
  • controversial/major decisions hang out in a github repository to keep nice track of them


  • “We drink our own champagne, only”
  • People contribute to things around on sales force, that run on top of it, not the core
  • People have votes for roadmap, say in overall direction


  • Who is making decisions
    • Count volunteer hours as “in kind” contribution
      • helps you understand how integral volunteers are
  • Volunteers v. people’s money
    • Consider value of volunteer time in contrast with company/customer money
  • Running your project like an open source project
    • or at least make it look like you are
  • Decision making
    • What’s a major decision?
      • Whatever someone thinks is a major decision
      • “it’s not a decision until it’s been on a mailing list.”
      • “major decisions given 72 hours for people to object/comment”
    • Decisions not always made in the same way
    • not all decisions are equal
    • fiat v. community
    • Having to be in person is not community friendly
  • Roadmaps
    • If a feature is finished early, there might not be something else to work on, leaving people unable to work
      • have to wait for next decision to be made, might be too long
    • product v. project
      • paying customers have needs that may not be community need

Working With Volunteers

  • ask them why they are there
  • community liaisons
    • face/voice of community in these decision making processes
    • “top contributors” get on boards


  • Community makes people feel good
    • companies, potential customers, etc, feel good about this
      this can be viewed as a marketing trick.
  • Change
    • people do not like change
    • change creates unrest
    • over time companies can “forget” to involve people
    • mismatch of expectations
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