As we start the new year, I wanted to share some thoughts about the goals for the ONOS community in 2016 and get feedback on it. In 2015 we saw the community grow and we’re now at a point where we have a big opportunity to grow the community even more and to coordinate the community’s efforts to make ONOS successful.
One of the main measures of growth that I think is relevant is the level of interest people are showing in ONOS contribution information. The chart below shows traffic to the Contributing to ONOS page. A few months ago the level of interest was fairly low and then we made a few small tweaks on the site that increased traffic to the page. That was followed in mid-December by an even bigger bump when we launched the new home page that has a prominent link to learn about contributing. Traffic dipped over the holidays and is now up to 350 pageviews a week compared to 250 before the home page update.
People are showing us that they want to learn how to contribute and the goal this year should be to capture that interest and align people in the community so we’re all working together. To do this, the focus for the work I want to do to support the community this year is on addressing needs of partners and collaborators, expanding our internal capacity and building out infrastructure.
Partners and Collaborators
There are now over 40 partners and collaborators actively involved in the ONOS community and that’s another great measure of the level of interest in contributing. We need to make sure all of these organizations are able to be effective in the community—are they facing roadblocks or running into other problems that we can support them with?
I think we need to spend some time talking to our partners and collaborators and listening to their feedback to understand challenges they’re facing. In some cases this will be in person discussions. I think it can also help to do a community survey and gather input from a large group. Once we get a better understanding of any concerns, we can put plans in place to address them.
This work is about having the processes to be able to operate effectively with a larger community. As more people get involved, we need to be able to recognize their efforts and delegate responsibilities to them. We’ve seen good results from an initial effort to do this with expanding code reviewer status.
We’re also looking at other things we can do here. For instance, last week at the TST meeting we proposed the idea of a Spring Cleaning Sprint that would let us devote time to putting things in place that would make it easier for others to participate. If you have ideas for ways to increase our capacity to work with a larger community, please share your ideas.
A growing community also causes challenges that need to be addressed with tools. For instance, with a small enough group you can keep track of everyone in your head, but as the group grows that becomes impossible. I think a community directory would help here and give people a way to learn who is involved and what they’re doing.
It also becomes difficult to keep track of news about a big community. Right now ONOS news is shared in different channels (Twitter, ONOS web site, YouTube, etc) and you need to watch each of those to catch everything. We’re working to integrate these channels, so you can catch all of the news in one spot. We’re also planning to streamline the ONOS site and wiki more to make sure that relevant information is as easy to find as possible.
Increasing the level of interest in contributing is a great start, but that isn’t enough. Success will be measured by converting that interest into actual contributions and by keeping community members engaged and retaining their expertise in the community. It is that process of connecting people who want to contribute with real contribution opportunities that makes a successful community.
One way we can measure conversion is by looking at activity for starter bugs. These are tasks that are good for people who want to code for ONOS and are new to the community. Can we have more starter bugs fixed in Q2 than in Q1 by connecting the people who want to contribute to these good initial contribution opportunities?
We can then look at retention by seeing if people take on other coding tasks after completing their first starter bug. And this process applies to any contribution area—for example, we also want to build a documentation community so we can measure conversion and retention by looking at initial edits to the wiki and then ongoing activity with editing, updating and creating new documents.
This is a lot of work and more than one community manager can do on their own. In order to bring more people in to help with these efforts, another thing I’d like to do early this year is set up a Community Steering Team. People who are interested in building the ONOS community can take part and help shape and drive efforts to grow and strengthen the community.
If you would be interested in taking part in a Community Steering Team, please reach out and let me know. And if you have any thoughts, comments or suggestions on the plans mentioned here, feel free to comment below or on the onos-discuss list.