The “Inner Circle” syndrome and MVP Program

After an overwhelming response to my last week post about the lack of diversity and inclusion in the technical communities, I wanted to speak about a specific diversity problem in more detail.

This problem is the “inner circle” syndrome.

As I mentioned in the previous post:

Even in the Spanish community, I’ve been mostly involved with the people I know well, mainly the Spanish MVPs and user group leaders. We know each other as we always hang around the same events, and thus unintentionally we create an “inner circle” in the community that makes it difficult for new people to come inside. It’s not that there aren’t any new community members, but it’s more of a mental barrier of always having “the usual suspects”. I have heard several comments lately from bright technical people that don’t submit to events because “there are always the same guys” speaking there.

The “syndrome” is the feeling or an opinion, backed by some evidence, that in technical communities there is a small core of people who share a disproportionally large amount of the “spotlight”, this being sessions in technical events, articles, publications. I have received many, many comments of technically proficient people that don’t bother to propose a talk because “it’s always going to be the same people chosen for the sessions“.

Let’s go deep into the problem, shall we?

It’s a small community

The technical communities are usually led by a small group of people, who are motivated enough to invest their time and efforts into providing value for the rest of the members of the community. By its own nature, this is something altruistic and we can’t expect everyone to be a community leader. So, the number of the people actively leading a community is low and there’s no problem with that.

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At the same moment, the fact of being a leader in a technical community also shapes another community of sorts: the community of community leaders. I suspect that there is a natural disposition to mingle with those who are like us. It’s not a problem, per se. I benefit from interacting with other community leaders, for example, sharing strategies and tips on how to have a more successful community or how to drive attendance and awareness for our events. That’s the good part.

The bad part is that, if left unchecked, it’s easy to mistake the community of our peers (community leaders) for the community at large. It can lead to the “inner circle” syndrome if we do nothing to include checks and balances against it.

How you get accepted to speak at events?

If there’s one measure of the public perception of an “expert” in a technical community, that’s speaking at technical events. Those people are usually recognized or taken by the rest of the technical audience as the ones who excel on something in their respective domain of knowledge.

However, there are many more people knowledgeable about something than speakers at the events. It’s a matter of combining several characteristics:

  1. Being knowledgeable about something
  2. Having sufficient skill (and bravery) to speak in public
  3. Being aware of an event where your contribution can be welcome
  4. Actually submitting a proposal to talk at the event
  5. Having been accepted to speak at the event

In a 100% meritocratic world, this would be a pure number’s game. However, in the real world there are unseen obstacles to this straightforward process.

Once you fulfill the condition 1, you have to acquire skills about speaking in public. Many people don’t come forward at this step, as public speaking is something very stressful for mostly an introvert population. (Introversion is highly correlated with abstract thinking capacity we need to understand computers, so our technical communities are necessarily skewed to the introvert half of the population).

Let’s say you have the skills to speak. How do you become aware of a prospective event (the condition number 3)? In many cases, it’s a random thing. Usually, you read it on Twitter or a technical blog you follow. The “inner circle” members have an advantage here, because if you are already in the community “inner circle”, chances are that you already know about the event either because it’s organized by your peers or because somebody mentions in the conversation.

The condition number 4 requires you to choose a topic and craft a cohesive and appealing proposal for your talk. You need some marketing advice in order to find that what’s unique about your talk and you have to “sell” it to the event decision board. This is another skill in which the most of the technical audience are not well-versed.

Finally, the last barrier is getting accepted to speak. If you have a good proposal, your chances are better. But the sad truth is that if you are part of the “inner circle”, your chances are SO much greater. Sad but true.

Why is that?

The people choosing your talk are probably the people who are your acquaintances or friends. It’s a small community we are talking about, and we mostly know each other. When you have a talk from someone you know (and trust) as opposed to a talk by someone you haven’t heard of, then it’s just natural to lend more credibility to your friends. It’s our human nature. And it’s detrimental to our community diversity.

Also, the number of speaking slots is usually always much less than the number of prospective speakers. Due to this pressure, the selection board tries to “stick to the well-known” and minimize the risk.

We have to tread carefully not to close the doors on the any prospective contribution, and the fact of not being “known” in the community is such a huge handicap. The mere fact of having someone in the “inner circle” to rely on and to ask for advice is the most frequent way I’ve seen for the people to become speakers. I’ve done it, a couple of times. But, that’s not the way I’d want it to be in the future.

The trouble with MVP program in the technical community

And here I explicitly mention the Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) program as a factor in this imbalance of speaking sessions. I’m a current MVP, and I speak out of the knowledge of how things are run in our local community (Spain and Europe).

MVP Logo

The MVP program is an award (not a certification, not an entitlement) for past year contributions (posts, articles, speaking sessions, open-source contributions etc) in the technical community that aligns with one or more Microsoft products or technologies. It’s awarded every year.

That’s the good part.

However, MVPs represent only a portion of the valuable community leaders and contributors (I suppose that’s why it’s called “Most Valued” though). For starters, there is a limited number of MVPs per category and per region. The evaluation criteria are opaque (even though you can nominate yourself or other people) and there is no formula that let’s you know if or why you are accepted or rejected as an MVP. If I’d change one thing in the MVP program, I’d make the criteria and the nomination process more transparent. I don’t think that it should be totally objective (because it could be gamed), but I’d like to see the explanations about the selection results for each MVP. Until then, the rest of the community can only take educated guesses and fuel rumours about how the whole process works. More transparency will bring more accountability to the program, in my opinion.

Additionally, the MVP Award in the Microsoft technical community is almost a guarantee that you are in the “inner circle”. Your sessions proposals are going to weigh more in the event selection boards, you are going to be in contact with other MVPs and you’ll be aware of more community engagements. However, now you have a vested interest to keep being an MVP so you will submit to those events, knowing that your MVP status makes it easier to keep it. It’s much more easier to keep your MVP status than to get one. It’s not that the entry barrier is high (which is true) but the fact that the advantage the renewing MVPs have over you is so much greater.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that MVP program is very valuable, both to the community and to Microsoft, but it’s easy to misrepresent it and to mistake the MVP community for “the whole community”. You’re going to think of the fellow MVPs as your “inner circle” in the community and you’re going to reap the benefits. It’s not fair, but it’s real.

Ok, how should we fix it?

I wish I knew!

Notwitstanding that, I can suggest some possible actions.

First and foremost, the community leaders should be less of a rock star and more of a servant leader. It means serving the community and getting out of the way of others. You don’t brag about you, you don’t abuse the advantage you have as a community leader by grabbing more spotlight. You consciously move out of the spotlight to let the others be illuminated.

Our role as the community leaders is more to the people that are still outside the community than it is to the people already inside. We should focus on expanding the numbers and diversity of the community, not our own numbers.

Don't be a rock star

We can also help the prospective new members. As leaders, we are exposed to potential valuable contributors more than the average community member. We should act as a benevolent gatekeeper that brings people in instead of letting them out. The feeling of “not being one of us” that trickles down in the technical community, is a very strong barrier to entry. I don’t think that it’s something we do on purpose, but it has a real effect. We should be aware of it and correct for it. How?

  • Mentor other community members that show potential value
  • Teach soft skills such as public speaking, personal branding and community engagement, not only technical stuff
  • Spread the word about potential speaking and engagement opportunities. Make a goal to bring in one new speaker for every event in your expertise domain. Help them writing their proposal and help them with the session preparation if you can.
  • Make the proposal selection a blind process. Strip the biography from the submission and let a board of peers rank the proposals for their merit, not for the speaker.
  • Be conscious about your unfair advantage as a community leader. Concentrate your contributions to non-competitive channels (your own blog, GitHub, magazines and selected events) and resist the urge to cover all possible outlets. Don’t be a rock star! If you really have something to tell, help organize your own event 😉
  • If you are organizing an event, reserve a sizable portion of the agenda for first-time speakers and traditionally underrepresented communities. Don’t let the “same old faces” steal the show. Even if it feels lowering the quality of the agenda, it’s the other way round. You are strengthening it.

Microsoft can also do a lot about fixing the “inner circle” syndrome:

  • Make the MVP nomination process more transparent and accountable. Not everyone who applies should be an MVP, but we really need more transparency around the process to make the “inner circle” dissappear. Explain why someone is awarded and someone else is not.
  • Reserve slots for first-time speakers and underrepresented communities at your events

I’m really looking forward for comments on this issue. Am I being right? Wrong? Misled? Please use the form below to contribute to the discussion.

The dark, hidden side of our technical communities

For a long time now, I’ve been wishing to write about the gender and diversity gap in the technical community. Today felt like that day, so here it is. It’s the longest post I have ever written, I think. Don’t worry, you don’t have to read it now. Save it for when you have some time to spare. No TL/DR here, I’m afraid.

As an active community member for some years now, I’ve been exposed to the rich ecosystem of user groups, formal and informal events, online collaboration, banter and gossip, articles, blog posts and other outlets of the technical community at large and SharePoint-specific community in particular. The personal rewards of interacting with other people in the community are enormous, and I feel grateful for the insights I got and for the opportunity to exchange points of view. Based on a voluntary participation, the community is one of the best examples of intrinsic motivation that I have ever seen.

However, the technical community isn’t the rose-painted picture nor it exists in the void. The real-world issues also seep into the technical community and not all what I have seen inside is something that I’d like to see again. I’ll try to explain it in the following lines.

The technical community is based mainly on the underlying politics of meritocracy. The more you work to benefit the community, the more benefit you get from doing it. We are used to think that our communities are as egalitarian and democratic as possible, but it’s a flawed illusion.

Who is the “community”?

Enter the blissful ignorance of conformity bias.

Let me check the circles of my personal interactions in the community. Mainly I’ve been involved in Spanish technical community around Microsoft technologies. I also have an active European participation, mainly in community-run events. In the end, I have participated in a couple of US and Canadian events, but my main field of action is Spain and Europe. I feel enriched by my community work, but let’s make a closer look.

Even in the Spanish community, I’ve been mostly involved with the people I know well, mainly the Spanish MVPs and user group leaders. We know each other as we always hang around the same events, and thus unintentionally we create a “inner circle” in the community that makes it difficult for new people to come inside. It’s not that there aren’t any new community members, but it’s more of a mental barrier of always having “the usual suspects”. I have heard several comments lately from bright technical people that don’t submit to events because “there are always the same guys” speaking there.

And there’s true to that. It’s true that in the Microsoft communities the preponderance of MVPs in the speaker rosters is something that makes it easier for the attendees to choose interesting events but it also shuts the door (or leaves it almost closed) for new people and new blood in the community. As MVPs we have to do community activities to keep our MVP status, and I think that it has this side-effect of erecting walls around the technical events for potential speakers that aren’t part of the “privileged” few.

Furthermore, my community interactions are mainly with the people similar to me: white males, with university studies, middle to upper-middle class. For years I’ve been blissfully ignorant of the biased world I was in, but for some time I’ve been growing a conscience that ultimately makes me write this post, due to several things in the last years. I’ll line them up for you, if you are still with me.

Women in Technology

Vanessa Estorach is one of the founders of “Women in Mobile”, an advocacy group that helps raise the profile of women in the male-dominant world of mobile technology and marketing. She also happens to be my wife. She explains to me that one of the problems women face in the tech sector is that they have no role models. I haven’t thought about that before, but it’s painstakingly clear: while the boys have Bill Gates, Linus Torvalds or Mark Zuckerberg (nerd, geek stereotype included), the girls have no modern Ada Lovelace to refer to. I can only see some timid examples such as Marissa Meyer in Yahoo!. In fact, the stereotyped image of a tech person as a young nerd with zero social skills is the main factor that drives the girls out of technical careers even before stepping in.

I also read the “Lean In” book by Sheryl Sandberg, where Sheryl, a Facebook COO, paints a feminine/feminist view of a more egalitarian tech world and how to “lean in” to make it possible. My main takeaway from the book was there is a lot of effort to be done if we really want to see some change.

And last, but not the least, I’ve been subscribed to a newsletter called “Technically Speaking” for some time. It’s run by Chiu-Ki Chan and Cate Huston who write about technical speaking, a subject dear to my heard, but from the point of view of a minority, with special focus on codes of conduct and inclusive events. They are a female voice in a male-dominated sector, and collect positive examples of more diverse events and community. Their newsletters struck a chord in me and made me conscious of the “granted by default” privileges that I have as a white male, first-world technical community member.

The more I read and discussed about the “gender gap”, the more I felt that I could do more. I started to raise the issue at my work, in discussions with HR and management. I made a conscious choice of positive discrimination, recommending women over men from the candidates pool for our new hires. While positive discrimination is a discrimination, I think that it’s necessary until the field is leveled and the things regulate themselves. We have to apply extra effort to change the inertia that by itself will only perpetuate the existing situation, that’s why we have to discriminate positively.

Woman with laptop

However, the one thing that I try to avoid is to foster a token female presence. To have a single women in the team is almost as bad as having none. There is some research that says that starting with 3 women in the team is when you begin to see the effects of more diversity of opinion.

My community “girls club”

While my community circles are still mainly “boy clubs”, I have to acknowledge remarkable women in the community that I have the privilege of knowing personally:

  • Cristina González, the MVP lead for Spain, Portugal, Italy (and some other countries). The envy of other MVPs who don’t have the privilege of having her as their lead, she has a soft and caring communication style and a brilliant mind that makes for very interesting conversations.
  • Martina Grom, Office 365 MVP from Austria. For me she’s the embodiment of what I’d like to see more in the world: a competent professional, engaged in the community and true to her values about the women in the IT.
  • Agnes Molnar, SharePoint MVP from Hungary. Agnes is a mother of three and a frequent community speaker and traveler. If that wasn’t enough, she even writes books and helps other women in the IT.
  • Isabel Cabezas, Microsoft Technical Evangelist from Spain. Isabel is a former student of mine, that became coworker and now she participates in Microsoft Developer Experience team in Spain to communicate her passion about technology. Isabel also works to fix the gender gap by organizing events such as Ada Code Group or AdaJS/JSLadies.
  • Iris Classon, Swedish MVP. Iris was a dietitian who discovered programming in 2011 and hasn’t been looking back since then. Her passion for technology is unbounded and she transmits it on her talks and her blog. While I still can’t make my mind about whether her previous look was a good or a bad role model for women in IT, she’s undeniably an example for other women in the programming community.

Beyond gender inequality

So, if we have more women in the technology, then the problem is solved, right? Well…there are still some issues beyond the mere presence of female talent in the community.

Do the women in the IT feel welcome in the community? The sexual harassment raises its ugly head even in our meritocratic communities. We won’t have more diverse communities without eradicating sexist jokes, patronizing talk and innuendo. There have been several high-profile incidents in the technical events lately, and we’re talking about supposedly more-than-average open and forward-looking communities.

What about the lactating mothers who want to come to an event? Will they feel welcome? And even for the parents regardless of the gender, what if they want to bring their children to the conference? How can we make it possible so that they won’t have to pay a babysitter?

And that’s only one of the diversity issues in our communities: the gender gap. But there are many more lurking around. How many times you had a speaker from emerging countries? By focusing ourselves on our cozy Western environment, we lose the valuable insights of the people whose experiences in the IT are radically different in scope and impact.

What about the economic inequality? As a members of the privileged middle-class, we tend to forget that not everyone can afford to travel to a conference to speak, even more so in the real community events where the budget is stretched. It’s a real barrier to more diverse events, and I can feel it even in Spain where outside Barcelona and Madrid, few speakers can show up because of the economic downturn that hit the areas outside the metropolis much harder. How many voices we lose due to the companies that can’t (or won’t) pay the travel costs for their people?

What about the people with disabilities? Can they participate in the technical community as it is now? Or do we need to change the community itself. Even such a small detail as the wheelchair ramp or the subtitles for people with hearing problems can mean that a person who wants to participate cannot do so.

What about the LGBT people in the technical world? Do they feel welcome when somebody cracks a joke or uses a derogatory term even without thinking about it. There is a sincere post on Medium by a black lesbian programmer and her experiences about the diversity in the tech industry.

I have just scratched the surface of the unconscious bias that we have in our technical communities. You can find a lot, lot more information just by searching on Internet. For example, the Python community has a set of guiding principles for a more inclusive community.

Diverse world

What can I do about it?

So, what can I personally do to foster the more diverse community? As a user group leader and a technical speaker I do have some freedom of action and I intend to do something to increase the diversity:

  • I will make our user group events (such as SharePoint Saturday Barcelona) more inclusive by inviting speakers outside our “white, privileged boys club” and by helping that everyone who wants to participate can do so, regardless of the gender, sex, sexual preferences, economic situation or physical condition
  • I will promote the awareness of the diversity gap in the technical community and be vocal about it
  • I will decline to participate in the events where there’s no effort to bring more diverse backgrounds or where there’s no clear code of conduct (such as this one for instance)

I know that I won’t change the world, as I realized many years ago I can’t change it by myself. What I can do, however, is change what I do. By “being the change you want to see in the world” I can stay coherent with my beliefs and help bring in a richer, more diverse world to the communities I’m involved with.

 

Galileo and SharePoint (via Azure) at SPS London 2015

Yesterday (July 11th) I was presenting at the very first SharePoint Saturday London. The SPS event was very well organized by Peter Baddeley and Seb Matthews.

Galileo with PIR sensor sending data to Azure
Galileo with PIR sensor sending data to Azure

My session was about connecting IoT to Office 365 (via Azure). I used an Intel Galileo prototyping board with a Passive Infrared sensor (PIR). The sensor data was used to determine if a meeting room was empty or occupied. The raw data is uploaded by Galileo to an Azure Notification Hub. A continuously-running Stream Analytics job is then used to translate the raw data to 1-minute resolution of the room availability and to insert this data into Azure Table Storage. Finally, a provider-hosted Office 365 SharePoint application is used to visualize the room availability.

The slides for my talk are available at SlideShare and the code is now live at GitHub.

Personal Branding for Developers Talk at MVP Open Day 2015

Last Friday, March 13th, I had the opportunity to speak about personal branding for developers at the Microsoft MVP Open Day for Spain, Portugal and Italy MVPs in Palma, on the beautiful island of Mallorca.

Edin Kapic Personal Branding for Developers TalkPhoto by Miguel Ángel Cantero

The choice of topic is very intentional. I firmly believe that building a personal brand is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of the fellow experts. It doesn’t make you look famous, but it makes your unique message clearer and more available.

The talk was very well received. I had a lot of follow-up questions and discussions, which is in itself an indicator that the talk was needed.

Usually, on these meetings there are several technical sessions but I have talked to few fellow delegates who share my opinion that people skills and soft skills are even more valuable for the technology experts. The technical topics are our staple, but the other topics are many times unknown or misquoted at best.

You can find my slide deck posted at my SlideShare account.

Personal Branding for Developers from Edin Kapic

 

What do you think about the personal branding as a developer? Are you engaged into it? Would you like to see a series of blog post about personal branding for developers here on this blog? Share your thoughts in the comments!

I Have Been Renewed as MVP for Second Year

On the April Fools Day, I have received the confirmation that my MVP Award has been renewed. I wish to thank to everyone who made it possible: the conference and community event organizers, the sponsors, Microsoft community leads and, of course, the attendees that come to the community to learn, mix and network. Thank you very much!

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This year has begun with me speaking at SharePoint Saturday Stockholm in January. Then, the most expected SharePoint event of the year: Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2014 in Las Vegas. Right now on my radar there are three more events: SharePoint Saturday Belgium later this April, the European SharePoint Conference Barcelona in May and SharePoint Summit Toronto in late May.

The community work never stops.

SharePoint Conference 2014 and Scalable App Architecture Talk

Tomorrow I will be flying to Las Vegas, for my third SharePoint Conference there (you can see my impressions from 2009 and 2012). This time, I’m honoured to be a speaker.

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By the way, I can’t believe that it has been 5 years since my first SharePoint Conference in Vegas. Time really flies.

Beezy at SPC14

My colleagues from Beezy will also be present at the conference, showcasing our best-of-the-breed enterprise social network for SharePoint. Please visit them at the booth #1140. You’ll find out what Beezy is and how it can help you embrace social computing at work.

The idea for my talk came out of Beezy development. We had to design Beezy for high scalability, as it was going to be used in companies with tens of thousands of users. I have envisioned a talk that summarizes the key tenets and practices for scalable applications, especially at the back-end (API end). It’s a topic that hasn’t really entered the mainstream programming in SharePoint, but with the app model that exposes your app to potentially millions of users, it should be gaining wider audience.

7 Tenets for Highly Scalable Apps for SharePoint 2013

My session is about highly scalable apps for SharePoint 2013 and how to architect the solutions for scalability. There are several techniques that can be used to achieve scalability, such as aggressive and distributed caching, queuing, using non-relational storage, using non-blocking async calls and so on. I will try to give a glimpse of those techniques and to enable you as a developer to use those new tools in your toolbelt.

Are you attending SPC14? Join the conversation at Yammer about my session! Ask questions and post comments to help me make the session live up to your expectations.

Ongoing Sample App Code

I have also started an ongoing scalable app demo (https://bitbucket.org/ekapic/scalable-app) that I intend to evolve to a complete example app built with the core messages of my session. Right now I have the source code that I’ll use in my demos, but I will keep adding the app code in the next months. You can find the ongoing demo app code hosted at BitBucket. Feel free to fork it as you wish.

See you all in Vegas!

Come see me at the European SharePoint Conference 2014!

In case you missed it, the European SharePoint Conference 2014 programme is now available and I’m delighted to announce that I am speaking at Europe’s largest SharePoint event in Barcelona, Spain from the 5-8th May 2014. For me it’s double satisfaction: to be speaking again at the ESPC and to see SharePoint circus coming to my home city. (It’s easier to play at home)

I will be conducting a session on Social Business Value Demystified: Real-World Experiences aimed at Business Decisions Markers and End Users. In this session you will learn how to connect business value and social features of SharePoint in order to support the organizational activities, how to organize communities of knowledge and how to integrate search and metadata into your overall social enterprise strategy. clip_image002

The European SharePoint Conference will be run over four days and will feature over 100 informative SharePoint sessions and 6 preconference tutorials providing you with a fantastic opportunity for learning and building your SharePoint skills. Check out the full Conference Programme to see all sessions and topics that are being covered by me and other renowned SharePoint experts from Europe and all over the world.

If you want to deepen your SharePoint expertise, to understand the trend of the SharePoint market, and to learn how to SharePoint for your business, including the revolutionary Enterprise Social wave, the European SharePoint Conference is the best place to be in 2014!

Prices start as low as €995! There is also special group discounts for bookings of 3 or more people. Book Now and I’ll see you in Barcelona in May!

My Talk at SharePoint Summit Vancouver 2013

Last month I attended SharePoint Summit 2013 in Vancouver as a speaker. I was really looking forward to it, being my first time in Canada.

First I did a tour of Vancouver, strolling around and getting to know the neighbourhood. The city downtown is very compact and can be explored by simply walking around. I event tried the famous Japadog from the stand on Burrard St. Delicious!

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My first talk was about the hype of enterprise social networks and how to get the real business value out of them. Several very interesting questions were raised during the session. Here are the slides:

My second talk, the day after, was about how to build a highly scalable app on the cloud, leveraging Windows Azure. I explained concepts such as queuing, distributed caching and async requests (with a short and eye-opening demo). It was also received very well and sparked a debate.

The organization of the event was done very professionaly. The venue (Fairmont Hotel Vancouver) was a perfect place, very centric and friendly to the business attendees. Not to mention Mavis and Beau, two sweet dogs that are the official dog ambassadors of the hotel.

On the downside, the scheduling of the sessions could be improved as several sessions with similar audiences were being scheduled on the same time, and the "keynote" presentations were also scheduled at the same time as some of the breakout sessions, in detriment of the assistance. The organizing team should take note of that for the future editions.

The best thing about the summit was the opportunity I had to connect to speakers and attendees and exchange many ideas about the use of our favourite platform. Thank you all for a very good time in Vancouver!

Review of “The Art of Community” (2nd Edition)

It took me much more time to finish The Art of Community (2nd Edition): Building the New Age of Participation than usual, due to my recent lack of significant commuting as I had no spare time to read much. However, I did finish it and I want to share my two cents about it.

I started with no prior knowledge of the author, Jono Bacon. My initial fears about the author were quickly removed by reading the first chapter. Jono has good story-telling skills and the prose is never boring or too verbose. The entire book is packed with real-life anecdotes and references and it’s not hard to read, even if you are not a techie type.

This said, in some parts I felt that the book was leaning too much on the “open-source software community” side of things but even that is understandable, given the author experience in those communities. I felt that although he tried to write the book for all kinds of communities, the most compelling examples were the ones he drew from his experience. If there’s one thing to improve in the book, it would be this one.

I run a user group, so I was eager to find quick tips and tricks. I did not. The reason was that the book taught me that raising and running a community is neither a one-shot thing nor one-man endeavour. Jono outlines a strategic approach to the community that makes you and your fellow members find the higher purpose for the community, make the long and short-term goals and then enable collaboration and communication to achieve these goals. The book is not a recipe book but a “make your own recipe” book. I really enjoyed the breadth of topics that follow the strategy for a community: how to make decisions, how to contribute, how to design the processes and streamline them, how to manage the conflicts etc. I learned a lot from these chapters.

One of the interesting chapters for me was the chapter on running events. Even if I have some experience in the event organization, still I found very important pointers in it.

At the end of the book there is a collection of interviews with fellow community managers, providing real-life supplement to the theory present in the book. The people interviewed are very different, from Tim O’Reilly (yes, the O’Reilly guy) to Dries Buytaert of Drupal.

All in all, I’d wholeheartedly recommend the book for any current or aspiring community leader/manager/founder/wannabe, even despite the occasional open-source software community bias. The first version of the book is available as a free download, so you are not far away from the reading experience!