TYPO3 Communications Workshop

In November OSS Watch travelled to Altlenigen near Mannheim in Germany to run a 2-day workshop for the TYPO3 community as part of their Marketing Sprint Week.

Across the 2 days, Scott Wilson and I presented sessions on the varieties of communities and why we form them, communication within online communities, governance of free and open source software projects, leadership, and conflict resolution.

Typo 3 - Content Management is MagicWhile we were only able to have a small group from the vast community of TYPO3 at the workshop, those who did attend represented a range of teams from the community, including developers from both the TYPO3 CMS and TYPO3 Neos projects, as well as members of the marketing team and the community manager, Ben van ‘t Ende.

One of the great things to see was how open and honest the attendees were about the issues we discussed and the challenges they faced.  A few points were of particular interest to me.

When we discussed the reasons we form communities, there was no clear agreement on what the shared interest of the TYPO3 community was.  Defining this will be key to driving towards the community’s common goals in the future.

The community uses a myriad selection of communication channels, and the purpose of each isn’t always clear-cut.  There’s also been a general lack of moderation culture, which has led to a few poisonous people getting out of hand.  Instilling a sense of shared values  and leading by example is needed over time to help ensure that discussions remain constructive.

There is a visible lack of diversity in the community, both shallow-level (most contributors are white, male and located in Germany) and deep-level (there are lots of highly skilled developers, but less who are learning or from other disciplines).  These issues could affect the long-term sustainability of the community if the barriers for new, less-skilled contributors are too high.  Engagement with users and less technical members of the community will also be key to shaping the community’s goals.

These problems aren’t the kind that will be fixed by a two-day workshop or a change of policy, it’s going to take commitment and leadership from those who believe in the community to move things forward.  One thing that we definitely saw from this workshop is that those people are present and highly active in the TYPO3 community.  We look forward to the possibility of working together again.

Our presentation slides from the workshop can be found on SlideShare.

A special thanks to Christian Händel for making sure we made it to Altlenigen and back!