SXSWi Panel: Fostering Collaborative Open Source Communities

Yesterday I saw this academic journal article and was reminded about how an individuals behaviour can negatively impact and groups productivity. In his article “Overlooked but not untouched: How incivility reduces onlookers’ performance on routine and creative tasks.” in the Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (109: 29-44) Amir Erez describes how even just witnessing rudeness resulted in diminished creativity, increased one’s own negative behaviour, damaged productivity and short term memory.

This is a perfect example of why I believe we need open source communities to foster collaborative cultures that nudge people to engage in positive and constructive ways.

In pursuit of talking about this more, I’ve put together a presentation proposal for SXSWi in which I’d like to build on my FSOSS presentation (which has logged over 15000 views since going up on two years ago) on how the skills and tools from the field of negotiation and collaboration can help improve community management and productivity in open source communities. If this sounds at all interesting to you, I’m hoping that you’ll consider going to the SXSWi Panel Picker website and voting for this panel.

Since FSOSS 2008 I’ve done more research and work in the area and so have more examples to share out of the open source space. In addition, I’ve been working with Diederik Van Liere at the University of Toronto’s business school trying to get data around how behaviour impacts a open source community’s effectiveness.


Fostering Collaborative Open Source Communities


Community management is a core competency of open source. So what skills, tools and culture can facilitate and enable collaboration? Drawing from negotiation theory David shares what open source project participants can do to foster sustainable and effective collaborative communities where conflict is productive and not soul-sucking or time consuming.

Questions Answered:

  1. What skills does an open source project leader need
  2. How to a minimize destructive conversations?
  3. How can I encourage participation in my open source project?
  4. How do enable members of my open source community to work together better?
  5. What is negotiation theory?
  6. Someone is being a troll in my discussion group. What do I do?
  7. How can I attract more users to my open source project?
  8. How can I make my open project contributors more effective?
  9. I don’t like arguing with people, what should I do?
  10. I think I may be abrasive, what should do?


Community / Online Community, Open Source, Self-Help /Self-Improvement, User Experience