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I have been slow to share my thoughts on the Alfresco community since taking over for Jeff Potts two months ago. I am excited about my new role as Alfresco's "Head of Community", but I have been very busy managing my responsibilities while also completing our preparations for Alfresco Summit. I thought I would be safe while you are all on summer holiday, but some have commented on my perceived lack of engagement. I want to apologize for that, and assure everyone that I am engaged and continuing to support the efforts of the Alfresco community.

First, let me clarify a few things:

  • Though Jeff left his role at Alfresco, he did not leave the Alfresco community. Among other things, his consulting company Metaversant is working on Alfresco deployments. You can still find him in the #alfresco channel at Freenode IRC, and he has continued producing great Alfresco related blog posts. I hope he has enough peace to write some of the Alfresco related books he has been planning. I am grateful that we can still benefit from his talents and friendship.
  • I am not new to the Alfresco community. For the past three years, Jeff and I (with the help of Alex) have been the Alfresco community team. I enjoyed playing a role behind the scenes, but we did everything together. Our strategy hasn't changed. You don't need to worry about a surprising shift in how Alfresco approaches its growing community.
  • The Alfresco community does not only consist of developers, or open source enthusiasts, or the users of Alfresco Community Edition. Our team is responsible for growing the ecosystem around Alfresco. This includes supporting the needs of users, developers, and hobbyists at our customers, partners, and user organizations around the world. We have always been short-handed, and we have always struggled to meet the variety of requests. But that is true in every community.
  • I have been pleased with the support of the senior leadership at Alfresco Software in our efforts. They recognize the importance of the community, and want to provide the support you need to continue participating.

Over the past few months, there have been some good conversations about the future of the Alfresco community. I particularly want to highlight the conversation in the comments to Jan Pfitzner's blog post on this topic. It sparked a useful public discussion, and drove some internal discussions that were educational. Another useful conversation has been happening on the Order of the Bee mailing list. I hope the Order becomes a robust independent organization within the Alfresco Community.

As I have had the chance to reflect on my new role, it is clear that a few things will change. I want to explain my strategy so that you understand what is happening and why.

  • Jeff has an unmatched talent at producing loads of amazing content. To do this, he combines his years as an Alfresco professional with an approachable tone and a lot of wit. This is not going to be easy to replace. Please don't expect the same level of content from me. A better strategy would be bribing Jeff to continue his efforts. <grin>
  • As part of my transition to my new role, I am currently very busy. For this reason, I am playing less of a role in Alfresco Summit this year than Jeff previously played. Though planning for Summit 2015 has already started, I am minimizing my participation in that effort. We have a new event team handling Summit, and I am glad to leave those preparations in Kyle Hillstead's capable hands. This means that after our event in London, I hope to catch up on the many community tasks I have been neglecting. I apologize in advance for my slow responses between now and then, but please recognize that this is a temporary situation.
  • After speaking with many of you, I realize that many of the things I used to do on behalf of the Alfresco community can happen without me. You moderate the forums, help in IRC, and answer questions on the mailing list. I need to focus on the things that only an Alfresco employee can do: building the internal plan and enthusiasm necessary to devote resources to community efforts. I plan to spend more time in internal discussions that won't be very visible to you, but will hopefully result in initiatives across the various teams of Alfresco that will benefit the Alfresco community and grow the ecosystem of contributors. Examples of this effort include:
    • Working with senior management to articulate our open source vision and explain how open source contributes to our business model.
    • Training new employees on our open source strategy and how to effectively work with our community.
    • Working with engineering to make it easier to contribute back to Alfresco.
    • Working with product management to prioritize developer features.
    • Playing a bigger role in the discussions about what features should be in our open source products.
    • Proposing an increased investment in community infrastructure.
    • Working with our documentation team to fill in gaps.
    • Taking your feedback to the rest of the company.
    Alfresco has a culture of being careful in how it deploys resources, and only spending time and energy where we can measure a result. This is a great way to grow a company, but it means I need to spend more time measuring our community and reporting on it internally. I know you are contributing a lot, but we haven't always done a good job capturing that and explaining how our investments help.

These efforts are already bearing fruit. You requested a more direct dialog with Alfresco management, and CEO Doug Dennerline graciously accepted our invitation to participate in this month's office hours. I have enjoyed working with him over the last few weeks as we have discussed the questions you have raised. I am looking forward to our hangout on Friday.

As I have transitioned into this new role, I have appreciated the many kind words and the encouragement so many of you have shared with me. I love working with you, and I am excited to continue our collaboration and friendship.

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  1. Richard Esplin

    Richard Esplin on #

    The Order of the Bee web site is live at http://orderofthebee.org . It looks like they have a twitter account at https://twitter.com/orderofthebee

    /me makes a mental note to enable URLs in comments.

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