Open source community managers tell us why they love their job

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Last month, we provided five best practices for community managers. Now, it's time to find out what makes these leaders tick.

Community Manager Appreciation Day is celebrated each year on the fourth month of January. This year, we collected some great wisdom from a variety of open source community managers, asking:

What is the best thing about being a community manager?

 Here's what they said.

Jono Bacon, Community manager for Ubuntu

I believe that communities shine the spotlight on one of the most beautiful attributes of human beings; sharing. When people collaborate together they have the opportunity to create things bigger and more empowering than any individual could accomplish.

While the output of this work is often elegant in its simplicity, the mechanics of bringing a disparate set of minds and motivations together to create something of elegant simplicity is complex.

I find the challenge of converting complexity into simplicity invigorating, and when the output of that work to benefits real people, it seals the deal for me that community management is what I want to dedicate my life to.

Zohar Babin, Senior director of community for Kaltura

Being a community manager for a large scale global open source project with a successful business around it, I think that the greatest part of my job is that I get to mix the two things I love the most: People and technology. My responsibility is to balance the two, blend a perfect atmosphere that ensures smooth communication and visibility in an open environment. I'm kind of a "scientist-juggler"—I measure, analyze, and experiment frequently, while the every day performance is pure art.

Francesca Krihely, Senior manager of community marketing for MongoDB

The best thing about being a community manager is the people you work with. You get to meet really passionate, smart, and inspiring people who contribute and give back to the communities they work in. I am fortunate to work with a community of really strong, smart engineers who are curious and whip smart. I really love watching community members I've worked with for years win awards, launch startups, raise funding, and launch their own open source projects. It's a great day job—helping awesome, talented people become successful.

Nicolas Pastorino, Community manager for eZ Publish

The best thing about being a community manager is to lead a group of volunteers, from within, whose motivation and engagement can be of the purest. When ownership on the community's mission is broadly shared, an unmatched energy is created that converges towards making it happen, like I rarely have seen elsewhere. There's beauty in communities, and being given the honor to lead them from within is a gift, which I experienced to the fullest with the eZ Publish Community. They are human adventures, tenfold.

Daniel "d." Hinojosa, Community manager for SourceForge

I love listening to people, whether they use SourceForge or not. I like to hear the challenges folks have in developing their code, in building their own communities, and the strategies they use to solve really hard problems. My current goal is to understand the divide in the open source software community around release early, release often.

David Stokes, Community manager for Oracle / MySQL

The best thing about being a MySQL Community Manager is seeing what folks are doing with the product! A municipality providing public access to all city data, or a researcher using MySQL to collect unusual data, or even a small business using our database in some creative way. Seeing a basic tool, like a database, used in a million different ways to help people get to their goals stuns me on a regular basis.

David Hurley, Community manager for Joomla development

The best thing about being a community manager is, without a doubt, the community. The opportunity to engage with, encourage, and enable community members to become more involved in a project, an idea, or a dream. I learn quite a bit by listening to others share their thoughts and as a community manager I have the distinct privilege of helping those thoughts be turned into actions.

Andreas Tille, Lead for the DebianMed project              

The best thing is educating newcomers on how to join the community and removing all hurdles to enter. At DebianMed, we work to support our leaders with two programs: Mentoring of the Month (expand on that here, include link and Sponsoring of Blends (expand on that here, include link More on (give details on this talk) in my talk at (


Thank a community manager today. Join the conversation and follow along on Twitter using the hashtags #CMAD and #CMGR.

Jason Hibbets is a Community Director at Red Hat with the Digital Communities team. He works with the Enable Architect, Enable Sysadmin, Enterprisers Project, and community publications.


Great article. The collective insights of people managing communities that are making a positive impact on business and society is very encouraging.

I agree with Lydia about the dual edged sword of being a community manager. I've been a community manager for the Apache CouchDB project for years now, and have seen exactly this. I don't know Lydia in her KDE role, but I do know that she helped to build the Wikidata community, which seems to be going from strength to strength.

I've been <a href="">arguing strongly</a>, recently, that healthy open source projects need people. You seem to be taking for granted that communities are worth having, but I think one of the big problems is that there are still so many people who aren't yet community minded.

You're looking, in other words, at the problem of being a community manager. But as a community manager, I also like to keep in mind what it feels like to be a developer who isn't part of a community. Because that's where the community comes from: people who weren't part of the community before. If you can think how they think, then you can boost your conversion rates and entice more people in.

Great stuff Noah, thanks for sharing.

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