Cult of Community | LINUX Unplugged 58

Cult of Community | LINUX Unplugged 58

Is the role of “Community Manager” a fraud perpetrated by companies trying to exploit the fruits for their community? We debate if things are really that black and white, and how a community advocate can make all the difference.

Then we discuss your systemd follow up, the various desktops touch screen features, Microsoft buying Minecraft, and the recent purchase of openSUSE’s parent company Attachmate.

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Aaron Seigo: “The ‘community manager’ role … is a fraud and a farce.”

Here we go, flame throwers on everyone: the “community manager” role that is increasingly common in the free software world is a fraud and a farce.
If your community has a “manager”, it isn’t being treated as a community and probably isn’t a community to begin with

Community” has an actual meaning that transcends “a crowd”. Community is structure derived from the self-determination of shared values.

Communities don’t have “managers”; synthetic, organized, hierarchical organizations do. Nearly all “community managers” in the free software ecosystem work for companies that own and manage the products that this ‘community’ they are ‘managing’ are built around, and that is not a coincidence.

Communities (real ones) have facilitators and leaders of various forms and stripes. It’s ok if they get paid so they are able to spend the time and energy facilitating and leading, but they damn sure are not “managers of the community”. They are accountable to the community, selected by the community, derive their influence from community consensus and can be replaced by the community at the community’s behest.

I’d be fine with that situation if there was some honesty on the ground about this, because then it wouldn’t taint the word “community” for those blessed souls who have managed to actually erect the real deal and there wouldn’t be quite so many deluded individuals out there who think they are a true stakeholder with equitable rights and privileges in an actual community.

In summary: a “community manager” is really an “audience handler” (as in: they handle you, as members of their audience) as part of a marketing program.

.. and frankly I’ve run out of patience for the deception.

Now get off my lawn! 🙂

Mark Replies

From my perspective, the great people in this kind of role really love the people and the project and help unblock things which would otherwise cause the project to stagnate. It’s perfectly possible to stick a fraudulent label on a job – yes, there are companies that think they can ‘get people to work for them’ if they have a ‘manager’ for those people. But those cases don’t usually work out very well.

By contrast, invest in people who love both the goals of huge project and the opportunity to work with folks who can only participate part time, and some magic happens. That’s worth investing in, IMO.

Jono, Michael, David, Daniel and others are wonderful to work with and I’m very proud of things they’ve done and things they’ve enabled to get done by others.

Whatever labels people might try and attach to them, they’re my heroes.

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