Speaker Stormy Peters, OpenLogic
Time 2008-01-29 16:40
Conference LCA2008

results from talking to community managers

Community manager meetings, 50% audience women.

50+ jobs with “Community Manager” in the description.

Not just open source “Community Manager”.

Different types of “Community Manager”. Lots of community manager’s don’t like their title.

Community Managers: An old job. Every time you get a bunch of people together. What has changed, is that it is online now.

What is a community manager?

  • Herding cats
  • Alternative: working on projects with same goal, possibly for different reasons.
  • Advocates for the community.
  • Advocates for the company.
  • Advocates for the users.
  • Product manager (unofficially), have input into direction project is going.

Do we need community managers?

Can you prevent community managers?

Community managers are responsible for:

  • Healthy community
  • Growing community
  • Drive the direction
  • Meeting the company and user needs

How are these done?

  • A lot of different things are done.
  • Interpreter - speaking different languages, depending on who you are talking to.
  • Develop content - spend time writing
  • Marketing
  • Monitoring online forums, IRC; keeping in touch. Some intervene and answer questions, others find the most appropriate person to answer questions.
  • Conferences, chatting to people face-to-face
  • Worry about product and community.
  • Dealing with trolls, everyone has a story about a troll, and how they got rid of them. Infrequent, but can be stressful.
  • Community manager own strategy? No, but aware of what it is and trying to make it happen.

Where should the community manager fit within the company?

Different views.

  • Marketing, but nobody should know
  • Engineering

Where do you find these people?

  • Technical support, these are already driving users to products. May not be paid, but online and answering technical support queries.
  • Companies want telephone numbers, but these may not be readily available.
  • Take somebody from the community, teach them communication.
  • Can’t just place them, have to grow them.

About these people:

  • passionate people.
  • good communicators
  • good presenters
  • spend entire day doing this
  • like technical stuff, like technical people, but not coders.
  • generalists
  • ombudsman
  • fascinated with communities
  • self motivated, fight fires, etc.
  • fun and friendly
  • leaders - lead the community in direction
  • multi-tasking, lots of things happening at the same time.
  • talking different “languages” - tech speak vs end user language
  • think of job as “social worker”, ensure community is healthy
  • too touchy feely, making sure you don’t say the wrong thing

More women in community management then open source.

Women failed to take promotion because there would be no more women role models for existing staff in technical positions.

How to become a community manager:

  • participate lots
  • give talks, even to small group of people
    • “I don’t have anything to talk about” - then make up something.
    • Start a blog, even about your bog - way of communicating.
    • Write lots, start a journal if you aren’t ready to start a blog.
    • Communicate, communicate, communicate.


Old job, but now online, not face to face, advocates, etc.

Lots of different views on what a community manager is and does.

https://www.osscensus.org/ (different to OSS census being conducted in Australia)


Real metrics to measure success of managers required.

Evolution of community manager, usually from technical background. Evolving into a marketing role.

Communities will have a manager regardless of if somebody pays for it or not. Getting the right person is the hardest part. Create your own job.

As a volunteer, proof of concept - look at how much further I can go if paid full time - depends if community has a benefactor who would be willing to invest for some sort of return.

Community groups, own sort of group structure.

Company advocate for project.

Flow of communication in from community must be equal to flow out from community. In is harder then out. Otherwise its just one group telling the other group what to do.

PR not mentioned in talk? PR - Public Relations - marketing role.

For larger companies, this can be outside their comfort zones.

Community manager must get respect from community, and from company. Building respect from both companies is walking a very fine line, and difficult. Need to show judgement, even handedly, and with consideration.

Community manager needs to be authentic, and reflect actual direction of company and upper management, otherwise may loose respect from community.