The Book

The critically acclaimed The Art of Community by Jono Bacon and published by O’Reilly brings together over a decade of experience in growing, empowering, and leading communities to success.

Every software project, online site, or company has to manage the community of interested people surrounding it. The community is the source of new ideas, a reliable support network, and the best marketing tool. When money is tight, making the best use of the community is even more critical.

In The Art of Community you’ll experience the broad range of talents required to recruit members, motivate them, manage them, and make them happy to be part of your community. Bacon takes you through the different stages of community and covers the information you’ll need, ranging from software tools to conflict resolution skills.

Chapter Summary

  1. The Art of Community
  2. Planning Your Community
  3. Communicating Clearly
  4. Processes: Simple Is Sustainable
  5. Supporting Workflow with Tools and Data
  6. Social Media New!
  7. Building Buzz
  8. Measuring Community
  9. Managing and Tracking Work New!
  10. Governance
  11. Handling Conflict and Relationships
  12. Creating and Running Events Expanded!
  13. Hiring a Community Manager
  14. Community Case Book New!
  15. Onward and Upward New!

Foreword


Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief at Wired magazine, and author of the New York Best-selling The Long Tail.

Also includes the foreword from the first edition with Leo Laporte, founder of the TWiT Network.

Chapter 1: The Art Of Community

I begin the book with a bird’s-eye view of how communities function at a social science level. We cover the underlying nuts and bolts of how people form communities, what keeps them involved, and the basis and opportunities behind these interactions.

Coverage Includes:
  • Collaboration-Driven Ethos
  • The Essence of Community
    • Building Belonging into the Social Economy
    • The Basis of Communication
    • Unwrapping Opportunity
  • A Community Manager: Becoming the Community
    • Cracking Open the Personality
    • Trust Is Everything
    • The Value of Listening
    • Avoid Ego, or Others Will Avoid You
    • Theory Versus Action: Action Wins
    • Becoming Yourself
  • Moving Forward

Chapter 2: Planning Your Community

Next we carve out and document a blueprint and strategy for your community and its future growth. Part of this strategy includes the target objectives and goals and how the community can be structured to achieve them.

Coverage Includes:
  • Planning for Success
    • Community: The Bird’s-Eye View
  • Teams: The Building Blocks of Belonging
    • Finding Your Place
    • Units of Belonging
    • Read Versus Write
    • Read-mostly communities
    • Write-centered communities
  • Meritocracy
  • Working Together Is Success
  • Diversity
  • Designing Your Community
    • Baking in Openness
  • Building a Mission Statement
  • Building a Strategic Plan
    • Structuring the plan
  • Filling Out the Plan
    • Brainstorming Ideas
    • Technique 1: Question assumptions
    • Technique 2: Think outside the box
    • Technique 3: Let’s make it suck
  • Pulling Together the Threads
    • Teams: Divide and Conquer
    • Identify how we can divide our community into teams
    • Define the scope of each team, and help team members understand that scope
    • Understand the extent and range of collaboration among our teams
    • Ensure that teams can communicate clearly and effectively
  • Documenting Your Strategy
  • Financially Supporting Your Community
    • Revenue Opportunities
    • Online advertising
    • Selling
    • Donations
    • Sponsorship
  • Wrapping Up

Chapter 3: Communicating Clearly

At the heart of community is communication, and great communicators can have a tremendously positive impact. Here we lay down the communications backbone and the best practices associated with using it.

Coverage Includes:
  • He Said, She Said
  • Building Your Communication Channels
    • Striving for Clarity
  • Choices, Choices
    • Communication fetishism
  • The Mediums
    • Mailing lists
    • Discussion forums
    • Social media
    • IRC
  • Leading by Example
    • Daily Communication
    • Netiquette
    • Avoiding bikeshedding
  • Longer Writing
    • The mechanics of writing
    • Don’t write like an institution
    • Untwisting the tail
    • Setting tone
    • Inspiring your community
  • Summary

Chapter 4: Processes: Simple Is Sustainable

We now move on to focus on putting the facilities in place for your community to do great things. In this chapter we build simple, effective, and nonbureaucratic processes that enable your community to conduct tasks, work together, and share their successes.

Coverage Includes:
  • Eyes on the Prize
    • Keeping Things in Perspective
    • The Impact of Processes
  • Building Great Processes
    • Breaking Up the Puzzle
    • Building a process
    • Process Considerations
    • Simplicity is key
    • Avoiding bureaucracy
    • Transparency
  • Assessing Needs
    • Community Cycles
    • Leading by example: Ubuntu
    • The Gates of Your Community
    • Reviewing new developers: In depth
    • Assessing Contributors
    • Managing Feedback
    • Gathering feedback
  • Getting Buy-In for Your Processes
    • Document Them
    • Make Them Easy to Find
    • Using Your Processes
  • The On-Ramp: Creating Collaborative Processes
    • Identifying the On-Ramp
    • Developing Knowledge
    • Determining Contributions
    • Growing Kudos
  • Process Reassessment
    • Building Regularity
  • Moving On

Chapter 5: Supporting Workflow With Tools and Data

We continue our discussion of community facilities to build workflows that are driven by accessible, sensible, and rock-solid tools that enable your contributors to do great work quickly and easily.

Coverage Includes:
  • Understanding Your Workflow
    • Roles
  • Building a Simple Workflow
  • The Mechanics of Collaboration
    • An Example: Ubuntu Bug Workflow
    • Getting to know the problem
    • Breaking down the conversation
    • Lessons learned
    • Building Great Infrastructure
    • Software As a Service
    • Avoiding Resource Fetishism
  • Technical Considerations
    • Bug Tracking
    • Bug reporting
    • Bug triage
    • Source Control
    • Collaborative Editing
  • Building and Maintaining Transparency
    • Tool Access
    • Communications
    • Reporting
  • Regular Workflow Assessment
    • Gathering Structured Feedback
  • Moving On

Chapter 6: Social Media

We now take a look at social networking, what it is, how it can help us, how to avoid the hype, and how to harness it in our communities.

Coverage Includes:
  • Don’t Be That Guy/Girl
  • Being Social
  • Social Media Services in a Nutshell
    • Twitter
    • Facebook
    • Google+
  • Harnessing Social Media
    • Broadcasting
    • Getting more eyeballs
    • Tuning up your messages
    • Avoiding social media overkill
    • Feedback
    • Where to look
    • Debates
    • Asking for feedback
    • Collaboration
    • Communication
    • Campaigns and awareness
    • Events
  • Social Media on Your Terms
    • Controlling the Fire Hose
    • Optimizing How You Post
    • Being Socially Responsible
    • Organizing a Community Event
    • The buildup
    • At the event
    • Running a Campaign
    • The preparation
    • The buildup
  • Providing Community Updates

Chapter 7: Building Buzz

With a solid foundation in place, we move on to build excitement and buzz around your community and encourage and enthuse every man and his dog to get involved and participate.

Coverage Includes:
  • Mindshare
    • The Mindshare Opportunity
  • The Building Blocks of Buzz
    • The Mission
    • Uniting Together
    • Inspired Words
    • Becoming the Advocate
    • Getting It Right by Not Getting It Wrong
    • Honesty
  • Setting Up Your Base
    • Aims
    • Staying Current
    • Building Conversation
    • Getting Online
    • Syndication
  • The Buzz Cycle
    • Planning
    • Buildup
    • Announce
    • Review
  • Buzz Targets
    • Announcing Your Community
    • Attracting Contributors
  • Building Alliances
    • The Professional Press
    • The Amateur Press
    • Blogs
    • Blog wars
    • Podcasts
    • Videos
  • Events and Conferences
    • Choosing Events
    • Submitting your paper
    • Promoting your talk
    • Delivering Presentations
    • Creating attractive slides
    • Long versus short presentations
  • Summary

Chapter 8: Measuring Community

Although many consider community touchy-feely and unmeasurable, this chapter confronts the myth and guides you in tracking, monitoring, and otherwise measuring the work going on in the community so that it can be optimized and simplified.

Coverage Includes:
  • Community Self-Reflection
  • The Foundations of Feedback
    • Defining Purpose
  • Hooks ’n’ Data
    • Statistics and Automated Data
    • The risks of interpretation
    • Plugging your stats into graphs
    • Surveys and Structured Feedback
    • Choosing questions
    • Showing off your survey reports
    • Observational Tests
    • Measuring Mechanics
    • Gathering General Perceptions
    • Perception of you
  • Anonymity and Privacy
    • Anonymity
    • Privacy
  • Moving On

Chapter 9: Managing and Tracking Work

Continuing on from measuring our community, we now explore methods by which you can ensure that your community projects and participants stay on track and deliver great results.

Coverage Includes:
  • Credibility and the Need to Track Progress
  • The Importance of Tracking Our Work
    • Tracking the Right Things
    • Within the Context of a Company
    • Defining value
    • Communicating up and down
  • What We Need to Manage
  • Tracking Projects
    • Structuring Your Projects
    • Managing Work Items
    • Structuring work items
    • Documenting work items
    • Visualizing Data with Burndown Charts
    • Using burndown charts
    • Observing burndown patterns
    • Generating additional information
    • Building burndown charts into your workflow
  • Tracking Growth and Decline
    • Visibility Is Key
    • Ensuring Effective Processes
  • Tracking Health
    • Promoting a Feedback Culture
    • Building a Set of Generals
  • Reacting to Community Concerns
  • Moving On

Chapter 10: Governance

Our next stop is the wide-ranging and seemingly complex topic of governance. We explore what options are available for a low-friction, capable, and representative governance strategy for your community.

Coverage Includes:
  • Accountability
  • Governance Does Not Suck
  • Governance and Community
  • The Case for Governance
    • Follow the Leader
    • Engage the People
    • Aspire to Inspire
    • To Bring Peace
  • Learning from the Leaders
    • Dictatorial Charismatic Leadership
    • Enlightened Dictatorship
    • Delegated Governance
  • Setting Up a Community Council
    • Designing a Council
    • Responsibilities
    • Structure
    • Commercial sponsorship
    • Membership
    • Codifying Your Council
    • Nominating and Electing Council Members
    • Forming a new council
  • Ubuntu Governance Example
    • In the Beginning…
    • The Structure of the Ubuntu Community
    • Mark Shuttleworth
    • Community Council
    • Technical Board
    • Team councils
    • Membership
    • Ubuntu Member
    • Developer
    • Council or Board Member
    • Escalation
  • Expanding Governance
    • Knowing When It Is Time
    • Building the Subcouncil
    • Escalation
    • Communicating Between Councils
  • Summary

Chapter 11: Handling Conflict and Relationships

One of the most sensitive topics in community leadership is handling conflict. In this chapter we explore how to identify, handle, and prevent irksome conflict; handle divisive personalities; and unblock problems.

Coverage Includes:
  • The Nature of the Beast
    • The Structure of Strife
  • The Calm Before the Storm
    • Contentious Personalities
    • Profiling the polemical
    • Sharing feedback about personality issues
    • Poisonous people
    • Barriers to Input
    • Problems with Responsibility
    • Lack of Justice
  • The Conflict Resolution Process
    • The Role of a Facilitator
    • Be objective
    • Be positive
    • Be open
    • Be clear
    • Resolving the Conflict
    • Part 1: Calm and reassure
    • Part 2: Get the facts
    • Part 3: Discuss
    • Part 4: Document
    • Part 5: Reflect and maintain
  • Dealing with Burnout
    • Detecting and Treating Burnout
    • Required rest and relaxation
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Addiction
  • Handling Absence
  • Handling Bereavement
  • Summary

Chapter 12: Creating and Running Events

Events offer an excellent opportunity for your community to bond, be productive, and have fun, and this is where we cast our beady eye in this chapter.

Coverage Includes:
  • Building Family Values
  • Events
  • Getting Organized
    • Step 1: Identify Requirements
    • Step 2: Find Help
    • Step 3: Set Deadlines
    • Step 4: Make Time
  • Organizing Physical Events
    • Common Attributes
    • Location/venue
    • Accommodation
    • Equipment
    • Date/time
    • Cost
    • Registering attendance
    • Catering
    • Insurance/unions
    • Organizing a Sprint
    • Organizing a Summit
    • Structure and scheduling
    • Inside a session
    • Event-specific notes
    • Organizing an Unconference
    • Event-specific notes
  • Getting Sponsorship
    • Understanding Your Needs
    • Finding and Handling Sponsors
    • Setting expectations
    • The pitch
    • Handling the Money
  • Case Study: The Ubuntu Developer Summit
    • The Ethos of the UDS
    • How It Works
    • The Organizational Team
    • Organizational cadence
    • The Venue
    • Meeting room requirements
    • Location
    • Facilities
    • Assets
    • Infrastructure
    • Room Layout
    • The Timetable
    • Opening keynotes
    • Plenaries
    • Lightning talks
    • Sessions
    • Scheduling
  • Organizing Online Events
    • Common Attributes
    • Mediums
    • Online Discussion Meetings
    • Choosing a time
    • Advertising the meeting
    • Setting the agenda
    • Running the meeting
    • Organizing Online Tutorials
    • Scheduling
    • Preparing for a session
    • Running a session
  • Summary

Chapter 13: Hiring a Community Manager

We now explore some advice and guidance for organizations that want to hire a community manager to conduct and implement the wide range of topics that we have discussed throughout the book.

Coverage Includes:
  • Why Community Building Has Become a Big Business
  • The Role of a Community Manager in the Corporation
    • Setting Expectations
    • Scope of the Role
    • Risk
    • Breaking Tradition
    • Control and Reporting
    • The ability to enact change
    • The Responsibilities of Community Engagement
    • Salary
    • Communicating Expectations to the Candidate
  • Managing Your Community Manager
    • Induction
    • Internal reputation
    • Community reputation
    • Strategy
    • Management and Communications
    • Weekly engagements
    • Community feedback
  • Summary

Chapter 14: Community Case Book

Next I present a fascinating collection of interviews from accomplished community builders about how they created their own inspirational communities to help round off your knowledge with the experiences of these leaders.

Includes Interviews With:

Linus Torvalds
Creator, Linux

Mike Shinoda
Creator, Linkin Park

Tim O’Reilly
Founder, O’Reilly Media

Mårten Mickos
CEO, Eucalyptus and MySQL

James Spafford
Media Molecule and LittleBigPlanet

Dries Buytaert
Founder, Drupal and Acquia

Mark Bussler
Creator, Classic Game Room

Mike Linksvayer
CTO, Creative Commons

Mary Colvig
Mozilla

Richard Esguerra
Humble Indie Bundle

Ilan Rabinovitch
Co-Creator, SoCal Linux Expo

Carolyn Mellor
X.commerce, PayPal, and eBay

Chapter 15: Onward and Upward

Finally, we close The Art of Community with some additional resources and events to continue your journey.

Coverage Includes:
  • Building Our Own Community
    • Social Media
    • Videos
  • The Community Leadership Summit
    • How It Works
    • Joining Us
  • Keeping in Touch