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Running an open source project

(Led by Mark Boas)

Starting out

  • See if a project already exists. No sense starting from scratch.
  • Start small
  • Twitter, Reddit, HackerNews can help you get noticed. It all comes down to getting lucky.


  • Get something up for people to see. Try to make it very easy to get started.
  • Echo John Resig: Make it as easy as possible for people to get started. Good "Getting Started" section and good examples.

Managing a community

  • Just get something up and running. Google Groups, or anything.
  • IRC is a great way to keep in touch with users.
  • If you want contributions, ask for them
  • Keep track of community activity. It's a good statistic to watch.
  • "Chase down negative comments." Ask people what you can do better.
  • Be obsessive about helping people.
  • Use community for direction, encouragement, testing, promotion. Run features by them.
  • Self-maintaining community is awesome, but really hard to achieve.

Other hints

  • Ask the community to tell you how they're using your project and publish those examples.
  • Don't ever start an open source project with a goal of monetizing it. (But if you can make it work, it's a good arrangement. People hire you to implement/customize because you're the expert and then you get better and the project gets better.)
  • Make cool demos and get them noticed. That's dogfooding AND publicity.
  • View the competition as helpers, not competitors, especially in the open source world.