Saturday, October 29, 2011

Community Matters!!!111

Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit 2011
We had several interesting unconference sessions and talks at the Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit 2011. I proposed and coordinated the unconference session titled "Community matters", the Saturday 22nd of October 1.30 - 2.30, at the room "Algiers". We had around 12 active participants from multiple organizations, representing AbiWord, Apache, and more.
The session notes are recorded in the Google Summer of Code wiki, which needs the log in credentials to access. Hence I summarize the notes again for the wider audience. These notes are from the thoughts of the mentors from the communities involved in the discussion, and they might reflect the communities involved (Hence the points, may of course, disagree to each other to some extend). I represent AbiWord, and hence my views are biased towards the culture of the AbiWord community, which I consider the best of all. ;)

What is a community 
  • People with a common purpose or goal
  • Communicating with each other
  • Contributing to achieving the goal
  • Like a big family
  • It's the most important asset in an open source organization.   
Issues in building a community (and solutions)
  • Defining the goal(s)
    • Not everyone has the same goals, need to define them as a community
    • Each one's goal regarding the community should contribute to the community's common goal.
  • How to bring people in (making it easier to get started contributing)
    • Reducing the hassles involved
    • AbiWord: Helping or mentoring the interested newbies to start contributing to a project.
    • Apache Software Foundation: give people commit access early.
    • It's version control, we can roll it back!
    • Make the restrictions social rather than mechanical (e.g., give someone commit access, but encourage them to get the code reviewed before committing, commit only in their area, etc.)
    • Use GitHub, SourceForge, or something similar to have branches and pull requests, which makes people able to commit on their branch and collaborate with the community. Also GitHub allows people to not have to learn git. [barrier reduction]
    • Have a policy that someone cannot contribute a completely new module until they have been part of the dev community for a year first.
    • One thought: maybe you don't need that many people
    • Novice issue tags plus "office hours" in IRC - mentor new dev contributors in learning the contributing processes, with an easy issue  for the newbie, so the starting barrier would be reduced.
    • Have someone who is the "greeter" in the issue queue. If an issue waits for a given time (say 3 days) with no response, the current "greeter" at least says "Thanks". This duty rotates as people get tired of it.
    • Break tasks up into manageable chunks
  • Communications are a major challenge
    • Some people are always on IRC (coders usually), some never on IRC (designers).
    • Ban IRC for making decisions - has to happen on a mailing list (Apache Software Foundation and many other projects)
    • To make a mailing list work as the discussion tool, people have to be told "bring it to the mailing list"
    • Some people like asynchronous communication (e.g., mailing lists) rather than synchronous/real-time (irc), plus with a world-wide community, real-time meetings are not possible
    • Mailing lists are good for archives, but are slow for actual discussions
    • Get people together in person from time to time, if possible.
    • People are not located geographically close to each other.
    • IRC becomes active around the clock, if we have developers around the globe (AbiWord).
    • Language difficulties - English is not everyone's first language.
    • Localizers help on overcoming the language barriers to a project.
  • Have to make it feasible for users to provide feedback/issues
    • Depends on the type of project, whether that is difficult or hard
    • User community is where new developers come from
    • Figure out how to interact with them
    • Derby rarely uses mailing lists - they rather use the issue tracker. 
    • Many users are more familiar with the mailing lists.
    • So mailing lists help building the community healthy and friendly.
  • How to attract new members to the community
    • Marketing to attract users
      • Go to the competitive events and meet potential users there (if appropriate for project's target audience).
      • Get academics interested, then students will follow and they become part of the organization.
      • Cooperate and collaborate with the other FOSS project communities - Common code segments to be used by multiple communities.
  • Statistics
    • How many contribute x number of patches
    • Measure how well the new contributors are getting integrated as regular contributors
    • Community health: are we adding new contributors
    • Don't measure lines of code or number of patches - doesn't reflect community health
    • Measure how many contributors are contributing to a project or sub-project as a measure of its health
    • Apache foundation board will warn and/or ban projects that are not on-boarding new contributors and otherwise acting in a healthy way
  • 90/9/1 split
    • 90% of users do not communicate. 9% submit bugs and maybe a patch occasionally. 1% get really involved.
    • You can double the 9% part by greeting and other contributor support strategies. 

     P.S: The "!!!111" at the end of the title ("Community Matters!!!111") was intentional, and I put that on the session proposal too, to give it a kid's touch, who desperately wants to contribute to the FOSS communities. ;)
    • AbiWord community's blog roll - Planet AbiSource.

      Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit 2011

      Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit
      Google invites the mentors for a two day unconference over a weekend to discuss about the Google Summer of Code, the respective projects, FOSS in general, or whatever that is applicable for the set of geeks. Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit is an interesting event hosted by Google and the sessions are scheduled by the attendees themselves. Google pays for the flight and the stay for the two nights (Friday the 21st and Saturday the 22nd of Oct/2011), providing dinner with style for the two nights. The mentor summits are held at the Google Headquarters (Building 43), CA 94043, USA. The event schedule is completed only at the day of the summit, as an ideal unconference! [Have a look at the Mentor Summit 2011  schedule with the parallel unconference tracks]. 

      AbiWord at the Summit
      As a mentoring organization, AbiWord has been mentoring students for Google Summer of Code since 2006 - for 6 years consecutively, since the program was announced in 2005. In 2006, Martin Sevior represented AbiWord in the mentor summit [Read more on his experience at the mentor summit 2006]. I was, as a mentor from AbiWord for 2011, was really glad to represent AbiWord in  the summit for 2011. This was the second time, AbiWord being present at the summit. This year we had 4 students who successfully completed their summer, among the 5 who had their summer with AbiWord [Read more on my thoughts on Google Summer of Code 2011].

      Stay at California (21st - 24th, Oct 2011)
      This year, the summit was held on 22nd of October the Saturday and 23rd the Sunday. "WildPalms" and "Domain" were the hotels organized by Google for the stay for the two nights. Most of the mentors stayed at WildPalms, Sunnyvale, CA, where some of them stayed at Domain, as rooms in WildPalms filled up. 2011 was the biggest summit ever with around 360 participants, where it was around 200 last year, mentioned Carol. Wild Palms is a silent and simple hotel. It reminded me the structure of the typical hostels - but I like it. We had shuttles to and from Google. We also had shuttles connecting Domain hotel, for them to join the dinner at Wild Palms.

      Scheduling the unconference sessions
      The sessions were scheduled and held at different rooms at the Google Headquarters, in parallel tracks. Initially, everyone was given 30 seconds to introduce themselves and their session, to begin with. Each session spans for an hour. A location was picked from the available 16 rooms. Once introduced their sessions, each one writes down the proposed session in a paper, and posts that on the white boards available, which had a table drawn with "Time Intervals" against the "Location". Once everyone introduced and posted their sessions, everyone is given the option to vote for their preferred session. The voting is interesting. We move along the white board, and pick a session of interest for each time frame, and mark it with a circle. Once this is done, the circles are counted and considered a '+1', and the sessions are relocated to fit the size of the room, according to the interested audience. Some sessions had exceptionally huge preference votes, and were scheduled to be held at Tunis, which has room for 200. Other rooms fit the audience from 10 to 20.

      Community Matters!!!111
      I [my user profile in the wiki] proposed and coordinated the unconference session titled "Community matters", the Saturday 1.30 - 2.30 at "Algiers". We discussed how and why a community matters the most, how to build a community, the challenges faced, and overcoming them. The session notes can be found in the wiki [Needs credentials to access the wiki page].

      I have blogged with the session notes for the wider audience [Read "Community Matters!!!111" in this blog]. However, Google Summer of Code mentors can access the wiki to read more about the Mentor Summit 2011. All the session notes are posted to the wiki.

      From Sri Lanka
      It was a long journey to Sunnyvale from Colombo! I traveled from Colombo (CMB) to Dubai (DXB), and to Los Angeles (LAX), followed by a local flight to San Jose (SJC). A cab from San Jose to Wild Palms is relatively cheaper (~38$), than from San Francisco (SFO). SJC is known as the airport of the Silicon Valley. I stayed one more night (Sunday night), since my flight was on Monday noon 12 pm. This was my first trip to the new world (Americas). It was a great experience seeing darkness at 3 pm in the sky of the north pole.

      Mentor Summit
      The summit went really well, starting with a warm welcome from Carol Smith, at "Tunis". I got the chance to meet many folks from many organizations, and listen to their interesting and crazy experiences. Everyone had at least a single interesting experience to share, during the tea, breakfast, or lunch. 2011 was the first year for many organizations (~50) in Google Summer of Code, and (the mentors from those organizations whom I had a chat) were impressed to hear the successful involvement of AbiWord in Google Summer of Code. I met Fridrich representing LibreOffice at the summit. It was really great to meet someone whom I have talked to, over the AbiWord IRC.

      Meeting the Haiku community was remarkable. Haiku is an MIT licensed open source operating system inspired by BeOS. We thought of a possibility to propose a project co-mentored by AbiWord and Haiku for Google Summer of Code 2012 - "Haiku port for AbiWord". There was also a discussion on this during GSoC 2009 too, which we couldn't make it at that time. Scott from Haiku also pointed out that AbiWord used to run perfectly on Haiku during the early days (well before I joined AbiWord at 2009). We have to go back to the history of AbiWord source code and get it back to build and run, which ceased to build. As we are more into gtk, we have never looked much into this yet, I feel. The relevant discussion can be found at abiword-dev mailing list. Refer to the Haiku FAQ to learn what Haiku is and what it is not.

      All the 4 mentors from the project Catroid were present at the summit. They were doing interesting demos with their Catroid project running on Android, over the corridors during the breaks. It was their first year at Google Summer of Code and Catroid is really excited as a young organization to participate in Google Summer of Code. By default, Google invites two mentors from each project, along with a waiting list to allow more interested mentors in first-come-first-served. Catroid was really lucky to have everyone around! :)

      Marketing and Open Source
      An interesting session on "Marketing and Spreading the word about the project/community", followed the session "Community Matters", in the same room (Algiers). How localizers help to widen the user community was discussed. The mentor from PostgreSQL mentioned that they have allowed independent local user/dev communities to own the site in their languages (French, Japanese, ..) Social media engagement (twitter, facebook, dzone) to spread the word of the community and project releases were discussed.

      Student Salaries
      The other two sessions I attended on the first day were on "Humanitarian FOSS", with the participation from OpenMRS, Sahana, and Ushahidi, and "Student Salaries". "Student Salaries" discussed about managing the GSoC's payment. It had a few controversial suggestions followed by a healthy discussion, whether each student should be paid equally, or based on their geographical location, or by the outcomes - a final outcome of the discussion was to propose a reward for the outstanding students - may be a GSoC Student Summit. 

      Around Google
      We took a group photo with all the mentors around, at the end of the first day. We also move around the Google Campus and also visited the Google Store. A room full of chocolates from Goolge, as well as from the mentors allover the globe was awaiting us throughout the summit! ;). The welcome desk was full of Google TShirts and give aways from Google and from the mentoring organizations - specifically stickers from the organizations. I took a few photos around the Google Campus. Feel free to view them in my Facebook album.

      The Second Day
      I attended the sessions at Tunis, the second day. "Non-profit infrastructure for software freedom" with the views from Software Freedom Conservancy, Free Software Foundation, and Apache Software Foundation, gave some insights in the non-profit infrastructures. "Fund raising 101" by Cat from Google provided some basic hints on successfully getting the open source project funded.

      Wrapping Up!
      A final speech from Carol ended the summit in a vote of thanks manner. Wait - No! Mentors were asked to provide their suggestions of improvement after her talk. Some encouraging, interesting and also funny comments were thrown, with room full of laughter and applauses. One interesting and usual suggestion was to have the summit at Europe next year. "I love you guys, but, sometimes, I hate you guys," replied Carol.

      The Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit was surely a remarkable experience for everyone who attended. I would like to thank Google and Carol for organizing the Google Summer of Code as well as the summit, on behalf of the AbiWord team.

      Friday, October 7, 2011

      WSO2 flag flies high at NBQSA-2011

      WSO2 team members with the awards
      13th National Best Quality ICT Awards, commonly known as NBQSA 2011 Awards ceremony was held at Hotel Galladari Ballroom, today 7th of October 2011. WSO2 had submitted its products WSO2 Identity Server, WSO2 Governance Registry, WSO2 Application Server, and WSO2 Carbon for the awards. As the award ceremony began, everyone was eagerly awaiting the final results under the each category, among the nominees, who have been chosen among several rounds. 

      WSO2 Identity Server won the Gold Winner under the Research & Development category. Then was announced the Application & Infrastructure tools category. WSO2  Carbon Platform won a merit award, WSO2 Governance Registry won the silver, while WSO2 Application Server secured the Gold.

      The award winners with their awards
      Remaining was the mostly awaited overall winners. We were quite confident that the overall Gold will go to either WSO2 Identity Server or WSO2 Application Server, as they had already secured their Gold under their respective categories. The result was announced! And the overall Gold goes to WSO2 Application Server and the bronze goes to WSO2 Governance Registry!

      With this results, WSO2 Application Server, WSO2 Identity Server, and WSO2 Governance Registry are nominated for The Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA), which is scheduled to be held sooner in Thailand. WSO2 flag was flying high this night, with 6 awards received for the products of WSO2.

      WSO2 showed its colours in the NBQSA-2011. WSO2 showed a similar victory on NBQSA-2010 as well, with WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus securing the Gold under Application & Infrastructure tools category, while WSO2 Data Services Server securing a Bronze under the same category. WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus was the overall gold winner last year.

      Monday, October 3, 2011

      Welcome policy of Wikipedia

      Something I like about the welcome policy of wikipedia is, whenever a registered user visits a new language wikipedia for the very first time, they will get a welcome message like the below from the bot of the specific language wikipedia.

      For example, I visited Malayalam wikipedia and Amaric Wikipedia recently, and got welcome mails from the wikipedia in the respective languages. This assumes that whenever a registered user visits a new language wikipedia for the very first time, there is a chance of getting him in as a contributor to that language wikipedia. In my opinion, this association is pretty correct and reasonable. Hence the welcome message essentially gives the important links and suggestions specific to the specific language wikipedia projects.

      This can be an analogy for the behavioral targeting of the companies. This helps to get more new leads into the system, who are likely to be interested  in the topic under consideration. Wikipedia welcomes the new contributors with love.

      From: MediaWiki Mail <>
      Date: 2011/10/2
      Subject: വിക്കിപീഡിയ സംരംഭത്തിലെ ഉപയോക്താവിന്റെ സംവാദം:Pradeeban എന്ന
      താൾ Jotter സൃഷ്ടിച്ചു
      To: Pradeeban <>

      പ്രിയ Pradeeban,
      ക്കിപീഡിയ സം‌രംഭത്തിലെ
      ഉപയോക്താവിന്റെ സംവാദം:Pradeeban
      താൾ 2 ഒക്ടോബർ 2011-ൽ Jotter എന്ന
      ഉപയോക്താവ് സൃഷ്ടിച്ചു,
      ഇപ്പോഴുള്ള പതിപ്പിനായി

      ഇതൊരു പുതിയ താളാണ്‌

      തിരുത്തിയയാൾ നൽകിയ
      സം‌ഗ്രഹം: സ്വാഗതം!


      താങ്കൾ ഈ താൾ
      മറ്റ് അറിയിപ്പുകൾ
      ശ്രദ്ധിക്കുന്ന താളുകളുടെ
      പട്ടിക സന്ദർശിച്ചും
      ഉൾപ്പെട്ട താളുകളിലെ
      അറിയിപ്പ് മുദ്രകൾ
      വിക്കിപീഡിയ സുഹൃദ്
      അറിയിപ്പ് സജ്ജീകരണം
      ക്രമീകരണങ്ങളിൽ മാറ്റം
      വരുത്താൻ, സന്ദർശിക്കുക

      താൾ താങ്കൾ
      പട്ടികയിൽ നിന്ന്

      അഭിപ്രായം അറിയിക്കാനും
      മറ്റു സഹായങ്ങൾക്കും:

      Sunday, October 2, 2011

      Dynamic Views of Blogger

      As announced in Official Google Blog: Dynamic Views: seven new ways to share your blog with the world, you can view the Blogger blogs in seven different dynamic views. I was trying these recently, and they look really cool, giving a different experience to the readers.

      Just click the links given below to see Llovizna in all these views.

      The 7 views are: