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03 June 2013 @ 08:19 pm
Managing open-source projects  
My brother wanted to know how to manage a large open-source project when, in his words, you have programmers who can come and go with little warning. Here was my response:

  • All successful open-source projects have a small group (even if it's just one) of developers who are dedicated. Either because they believe it, or because they're paid. The members of this small group review and accept (or reject) contributed changes to the project.

  • All successful open-source projects have a public bug trackers where people can submit bugs.

  • All successful open-source projects have a public communications channel. Sometimes more than one. At least a mailing list and/or a forum, since they both represent a persistent record of conversation. Most projects aren't large enough to support both at the same time. Often, there's also a real-time group communications channel, such as IRC or Twitter.

  • All successful open-source projects need to involve something the *volunteer* contributors believe in and/or use; something needs to convince them that it's worth their time.

  • All successful open-source projects have a community of users.

  • Contributions come in many forms. Sometimes it's in the form of assisting other users. Sometimes it's in the form of code. Sometimes it's in the form of bug reports. Sometimes it's donations. Sometimes it's community mediation. Sometimes it's writing documentation. Sometimes it's testing for bugs. Sometimes it's advocacy.