Advice for managing open source communities at scale
TL;DR: As open source projects grow, maintainers’ most pressing challenges often shift from the technical to the administrative as they transition from managing code to managing a community of contributors.
As open source projects grow and mature, maintainers’ most pressing challenges often shift from the technical to the administrative as they transition from managing code to managing a community of contributors. When I was responsible for Community and Safety at GitHub, I advised countless organizations on not just how to manage open source projects, but how to manage open source projects at scale.
Following my rule that everything should have a URL, I’ve captured some of the most common advice I offered over the years into a series of four posts on successfully managing large open source communities:
- Set open source contributors up for success
- Automate common open source community management tasks
- Practical tips for governing your open source project
- Moderating open source conversations to keep them productive
Additionally, if you (or your organization) is new to open source, you might find some of these more “vintage” open source resources helpful:
- Tips for growing communities around your open source project
- Internal collaboration best practices
- External engagement best practices
Last, if you have questions about intellectual property, I’ve also captured some more tactical advice around open source licensing (including why you shouldn’t write your own license), copyright notices, and why you shouldn’t require a contributor license agreement and if you (or someone in your organization) is still on the fence about open source in the first place, there are, of course, many reasons why you should consume, publish, and contribute to open source.
I hope that these posts help set you and your project up for success as you take your plunge in joining the open source community and learn to manage an open source project (and its community) at scale.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:
- Twelve tips for growing communities around your open source project
- Five best practices in open source: external engagement
- Why open source
- Everything an open source maintainer might need to know about open source licensing
- Why you probably shouldn't add a CLA to your open source project
- Resolutions for sustaining and growing open source communities
- Five (and a half) practical tips for governing your open source project
- Leaders show their work
- Why you shouldn't write your own open source license
- Five best practices in open source: internal collaboration
- Manage like an engineer
Ben Balter is the Director of Engineering Operations and Culture at GitHub, the world’s largest software development platform. Previously, as Chief of Staff for Security, he managed the office of the Chief Security Officer, improving overall business effectiveness of the Security organization through portfolio management, strategy, planning, culture, and values. As a Staff Technical Program manager for Enterprise and Compliance, Ben managed GitHub’s on-premises and SaaS enterprise offerings, and as the Senior Product Manager overseeing the platform’s Trust and Safety efforts, Ben shipped more than 500 features in support of community management, privacy, compliance, content moderation, product security, platform health, and open source workflows to ensure the GitHub community and platform remained safe, secure, and welcoming for all software developers. Before joining GitHub’s Product team, Ben served as GitHub’s Government Evangelist, leading the efforts to encourage more than 2,000 government organizations across 75 countries to adopt open source philosophies for code, data, and policy development. More about the author →