Expected outcome: share experiences on how we can or should reward community members.


How to reward people for eg training others

Communities need more people who are not just coders - testing, docs, etc. - how can we incentivize them to come in and feel part of the community?

Should we reward community members? Yes, even if it's just to make them feel welcome eg a welcome email.

How do you define "reward"?

Rewards can include:

  • discounts on services

  • conference attendance

  • recognition: let people know they are doing well to help them stay motivated

Does anyone have boilerplate for that kind of thing?

FreeBSD: people who newly have a commit bit introduce themselves to the mailing list - generally get a barrage of welcome emails.

Normal vs core contributors/reviewers

How do people get to "special" status? (That can be an issue in older communities - elite can be hard to dislodge. Can appear/behave as a cabal.

How about reviewing patches from new people?

Can be tooled (Fabricator in FreeBSD, eg). But needs oversight, someone to say who is the right reviewer, esp in the kernel.

Is there a hierarchy once you’re in?

There can be a social hierarchy based on who knows an area the best.

Getting to be known can take a while.

Once you’re there, how are you motivated to keep going? Eg gamifying

Personal reward - the satisfaction of having contributed. Knowing that your code is running somewhere cool.

Newsletter to recognize contributions (Rust).

Ubuntu interview series. (This does tend to find people who are better at self-promotion.)

How do you measure contribution?

Could be API consumption, code commits.

Onboarding: how do we welcome you in, guide newcomers to the right resources. The personal touch goes a long way. Codeship - send a handwritten note along with stickers etc.

What achievement do we reward? But we should also reward behavior.

Knowing who to reward depends on being part of the community yourself - and also being aware of the rewarder’s own biases. (Don’t give the employee of the month award to the same person 12 months running.)

Gamification - have had bad experiences if the wrong behaviors were being rewarded e.g. file a bug. Also creates a tier that no one new can break into, so it becomes demotivating for others.

“Top 5” problem - new people can’t break in. And the same people end up doing all the work.

Fastest growing newcomer - can only get it in the first 12 months.

Curated awards, rather than just metrics based.

What is the cost of NOT rewarding? FreeBSD doesn’t really have it - would the impact be larger if they started?

How do you get new users onto a competing technology e.g. FreeBSD vs Linux? Because you can put proprietary code into the kernel.

Marketing may have money and want to spend it (brand awareness).

Recruiting (hiring) as well.

Rebranding as a chance to refresh, flush out some of the old.

Phasing out (services, components - forked off?) vs succession planning. Need to understand impact to community.

Succession = who is empowered to take on a role.

Recruiting as the ultimate reward - “We don’t have an external community because we end up hiring them all.”

Does community participation survive once you quit that job? May depend on hobbyist vs enterprise nature of community.

How do we reward people who are not doing code?

  • Documentation - if it happens at all. Man pages kept up to date better than “doc books.”

  • Infrastructure teams

  • Testing

These things are not considered as sexy as coding.

Remove barriers to entry.

Do you have to pay to get good, comprehensive docs? Apple and Stripes are good examples of good docs.

Context and tech writing skills tend to be missing.

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