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24 March 2009


Matt Aslett

I thought you asked if the community manager should report to "engineering or business". I 100% agree it should not be marketing. But if a company only truly enjoys the benefits of open source when it takes a business-led approach to community engagement (rather than a project-by-project engineering-led approach) then my gut reaction is that the community manager should report to a business leader - but only when a company has reached this level of engagement. I'll explain more in a post when I get 30 minutes or so.

Dave Neary

Hi Stephen,

Interesting question. Here's another: As an open source company, why do you have a community manager?

In my experience, the community manager position gets created when a company realises that a group of people want to engage with them, and they don't know how to do it. So they hire someone to do it for them. In some sense, hiring a community manager is an admission of failure as a project.

Some community managers have the job title, but their job is more community enabling and general busybody, removing roadblocks and clarifying and condensing ideas which already exist in the community. I would argue that these people are both valuable and poorly titled. The other kind of community manager, the guy you hire to be the company's "guy in the community", his job is nigh on impossible.


Mark Withington

Great post!

Interestingly, nearly *all* OSS licenses are distribution licenses...Distribution is, of course, one of Marketing 101's 4 P's (Product, Price, Promotion and Place - aka Distribution).

Perhaps Marketing (in the lens of software development) needs to evolve to accommodate another [new] business model, or maybe it spills even further: "Community" seems to be traversing traditional departmental boundaries; one slice might see it as "Customer Base" (such as Marketing) another might look at it as "Developers" (such as R&D) and yet another might look at it as "Quality Control" (such as Release Engineering).

Netting it out, "Command and Control" management is dead. Long live Open Source [meritocracy's surrogate]. Damn, this stuff is exciting!

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