Advice for managing open source communities at scale

Posted June 15, 2021 | View revision history

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:

  1. Set open source contributors up for success
  2. Automate common open source community management tasks
  3. Practical tips for governing your open source project
  4. 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:

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.

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Ben Balter is Chief of Staff for Security at GitHub, the world’s largest software development platform. Previously, 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 →

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