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Community handbook – The Open Source Way

Introducing a community book written by a community. (read and participate) (HTML, HTML single page, PDF)

This is a handbook for creating and nurturing communities of contributors.  It was originally thought of as a cookbook to provide recipes for enacting community the open source way.  It is released under the Creative Commons BY SA 3.0 Unported free/libre/open content license.

We originally wrote this handbook for internal-to-Red Hat use.  Our community team tells many of the same stories and makes the same points to different audiences, and we thought a handbook or cookbook would be a handy way to practice our own methods.

No surprise, it was immediately clear to us that this type of content is better if it draws from and benefits a wider community.  In this case, the community of practice of people interested in contributor communities.  That community writes this kind of documentation for itself.

As a source for repeatable and successful recipes, the book follows a simple format:

  • First is a principle, explained in a paragraph.
  • Second are implementation details, in one or two paragraphs.
  • Third is an example demonstrating the principle in an implementation, in or two paragraphs.

If you want to use the book, you can start referring to the wiki pages immediately.

It has a nice PDF version, which currently prints to 30 pages (double-sided.)  This one is Red Hat branded, but you can take the DocBook XML sources and build it using whatever look you want.

It is also incomplete, specifically in the area of examples.  I don’t want this to be full of only technology examples.  That’s one place you can come in.  Give up some examples of the principles in action, from the real world, and ideally in realms outside of technology.

But it’s more than time to have this content out in the open.  Release early, release often.

After all, the open source way can be practiced in many more parts of life than just technology.

One final note.  What we refer to as the open source way is a rebranding of what are really techniques utilized in creating freed software a.k.a. free/libre software.  The brand of open source has a lot of recognition and traction with people entirely new to the discussion, looking how to apply these concepts in their communities.  When practiced properly, open source software is good enough as free software.  That’s how we do it in the Fedora Project.  As an effort to spread information about how to use free and open community techniques, we are relying upon the current strong Open Source brand in helping to amplify the message.

One section I hope to add to The Open Source Way soon is a version of the article by Richard Fontana, “The free software way“, published on  My goal is to provide a new, canonical location that explains the right way for free and open to interact.

(Update – first both links to HTML book fixed.)