"Social capital IS your capital."

This was the thesis of David Eaves' LearnFWD presentation, “The Science of Community Management.” David consults with various open source projects (including Mozilla) and also is a negotiations expert, which comes in quite handy for his community work.

The above topic is a play on the title of Jono Bacon’s book, “The Art of Community Management.” David believes that there are intentional, measurable strategies projects can take with their communities. He will give a keynote on this at OSCON in Portland in July.

Specifically, David charged community managers to use the tools of negotiation and big data to ensure their contributors have productive experiences.

Elaborating on negotiation, David outlined two key elements: relationship and communication. Projects need to be rigorous on how they manage their valuable relationships. Not surprisingly, survey results from Mozilla’s community showed that positive experiences lead to greater contributions. On the flip-side, one standard deviation in quality of experience leads to 40% likelihood to stop contributing. While not rocket science, it’s easy to forget this principle in the daily distractions, responsibilities, habits and frustrations of running the project.

So, good community managers not only ask what the contributors want, but determine why they want it. What are the community’s interests? They then craft options to meet those interests. OS projects are challenged as this framework typically requires strong relationships AND communication - both of which pose a challenge in distributed development communities.

In addition to negotiation skills, it would behoove community managers to use tools to provide greater information to make contributing not only easy, but compelling. David cited SeeClickFix, ReCollect and the Mozilla metrics dashboards as great examples of this.

He shared so much great stuff that we think it’s time to stop summarizing and let you start listening!