Open source projects’ greatest asset is their culture and FOSS practitioners need to deliberately build and expand it. To me, culture is not soft or vague. Culture is something specific and actionable that we need to define and hold people accountable for.
I have simple principles that guide me in working in open source. At their root, they are all simply “focus on the shared work.”
I usually sum them up as “Doing is Doing.” While that’s an excellent test to see if you’re making the right choices, I suspect many will not find that tautology sufficiently actionable.
The 10 principles I try to model in open source leadership:
- Leadership includes service: connecting, education, documentation and testing
- Promotion is a two-edged sword – leaders needs to take extra steps to limit self-promotion or we miss hearing the community voice.
- Collaboration must be modeled by the leaders with other leaders.
- Vision must be articulated, but shared in a way that leaves room for new ideas and tactical changes.
- Announcements should be based on available capability not intention. In open source, there is less need for promises and forward-looking statements because your actions are transparent.
- Activity (starting from code and beyond) should be visible (Github = social coding) – it’s the essence of collaboration.
- Testing is essential because it allows other people to join with reduced risk.
- Docs are essential because it reduces friction for users to adopt.
- Upstreaming (unlike Forking) is a team sport so be prepared for some give-and-take.
- It’s not just about code, open source is about solving shared problems together. When we focus on the shared goals (“the doing”) then the collaboration comes naturally.