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Why Companies Should Contribute to Open Source

by Mediacurrent Team
October 22, 2019

 

About AmyJune

In this episode, we welcome AmyJune Hineline from Kanopi Studios to talk about the importance of open source to the community and organizations. AmyJune is the Open Source community ambassador for Kanopi. She helps keep her team connected to open source communities. Along with working in the WordPress and Drupal communities, AmyJune also co-organizes A11yTalks, a monthly online meetup where they promote community discussions on a variety of accessibility issues. You can find her at just about every Drupal camp or con, where she will coax you into buying a beer-like drink. 

Project Pick:

Interview

  1. Tell us about yourself and about your role as an Open Source Community Ambassador?
  2. How did you get started with the Open Source Community?
  3. What would you say is the biggest benefit for an agency to contribute back to the community?
  4. Why should an organization/company using Drupal invest in giving back to the community?
  5. A lot of people think contributing back means creating a new module or a new theme.  Although those are certainly ways to contribute back, what are other ways in which an organization using Drupal or WordPress can contribute back?
  6. What would be your advice to an organization that is interested in contributing back to the community?  What is the process like or what steps should they take?
  7. How can an agency like yours or ours motivate or encourage clients to contribute back?
  8. What kind of resources are available for an organization to get started with contributing back?

Transcript

Mark Casias: Welcome to Mediacurrent's Open Waters podcast, a podcast about open source solutions. I'm Mark Casias and with me is Mario Hernandez.

Mario Hernandez: Hey everyone.

Mark: And Bob Kepford.

Bob Kepford: Hello, people of the internet.

Mark: How are you doing there, gentlemen?

Bob: Good. Good.

Mario: Pretty good.

Mark: This episode, we will be talking to AmyJune Hineline. AmyJune is the open source community ambassador for Kanopi Studios, a digital agency that provides insightful strategy, design, development, and support for open source websites that make an impact. She helps keep her team connected to the open source communities along with working with the WordPress and Drupal communities. AmyJune also co-organizes, cause one day I'll learn how to talk, the A11yTalks, a monthly online meetup where they promote community discussions on a variety of accessibility issues. You can also find her just about every camp or con where she will coax you into buying a beer-like drink.

AmyJune Hineline: Beer-like?

Mark: Yes. We're not saying, we're not saying brand names, but I disagree it's a beer. So anyway, welcome AmyJune. How's things going?

AmyJune: Good. Thanks for having me. I'm very excited. I love community so this is a great, this is a great show.

Mark:Excellent. We'll start with the questions, the grilling, as one might say, here in a little bit, but first we have our Project Pick and we asked AmyJune to make a pick. And what did we decide on there?

AmyJune: Well since I work both in Drupal and WordPress, we talked about landing pages where people can go to contribute the Drupal, one being drupal.org. I don't know, what did we decide on, /community? And then for the WordPress page, it's make.wordpress.org. And those are great pages for resources on, say, you don't even know what community is. There's links to how you can get involved, links to who to talk to, different channels where you can get yourself involved in the community as far as like Slack and IRC and that kind of thing. So it's a, it's a great starting point.

Mario: Nice, thanks. Thanks for providing those resources, AmyJune. So let's start by learning a little bit about yourself. So tell us about you and your role as an open source community ambassador. What does that mean exactly?

AmyJune: Okay. So a little bit of background is I am not a, well, I am a developer, but I'm not a coder per se. Tech is somewhat new to me. I've only been in the Drupal sphere since late 2015 and I started out as a content editor and entry for a record label that me and my partner have. I'm a hospice nurse by trade, so we won't go into the story of how I switched from hospice to tech, but I started out as an intern. I took Mike Anello is Drupaleasy class, and then started as an intern and sort of quickly decided that development wasn't my thing and I was given the opportunity to work with a company who was exploring how to give back more for code, so they taught me how to patch and that kind of thing.

AmyJune: And I really liked that. And then nursing, I was a a teacher for nursing assistants and I missed that and I missed speaking at conventions. And so the next step for me was teaching the broader community how to make a patch. And so I did that in 45-minute sessions, and then we expanded it to half-day trainings and now I work sort of agnostically for my team, mostly in the Drupal community and WordPress, just sort of giving back to give back, and then what really excites me about my role is empowering other people to give back, too, because it's job security, right? So Kanopi sponsors my time and then I help those communities stay relevant.

Bob: That's really cool.

AmyJune: And then, and then I also want to add that nursing background really helps with the accessibility stuff. You know, it gives me that rich background for why accessibility is important and why information should be available to all people. So that lifetime really helps this lifetime grow.

Mario: That's a good point. Yeah.

Bob: We all bring different things to open source, and we need all those different perspectives and backgrounds to actually understand what people need. That's cool. You kind of answered this question, AmyJune, but I think you probably could go into a little more about this and if not, I mean, I could also change this question up a little bit, but how did you get started with open source community? And, I would add to that, what's your favorite thing about working with people in the open source world?

AmyJune: Well, having that relationship with an employer who was willing to take the risk of, you know, how do we give back to Drupal and how can we have this very junior person help us with that? That really is what got me into open source. And then, as far as that goes, the understanding what open software meant after that, because I don't think I understood what it meant before that, but that understanding of giving back and how important it is is like this sort of, even though I'm paid to do it, it feels very altruistic. And that's just this like, feel good thing. And I can't imagine doing anything else at this point, you know, because it feels so good. And my favorite part of that is helping other people feel that good. Like, when I go to the camps and give my sessions and when I go to the conferences and give my, help with the first time contributor workshops, where I have people who have been in Drupal for eight or nine or 10 years and have never written a patch, they know how to do it, kind of, but they haven't actually done that pragmatic part of giving it back.

AmyJune: And so there's the, the absolutely new people who I inspire and let them know that they don't have to give back and code, and then those coders who have never done that before, giving them that sort of reinforcement of how easy it is. And I just, I love the feeling I get. It's like the selfish feeling, right? The selfish feeling of being altruistic and giving back. But like I said, I don't, I couldn't imagine doing anything else at this point.

Mario: You mentioned Kanopi, your employer, sponsors your community time and we at Mediacurrent also have the same principles where we help our teammates to contribute back to the community in several ways. So what, what would you say is the biggest benefit for an agency like yours or ours to contribute back to the community?

AmyJune: Well, okay. I'm going to sound really plain here, but it's that whole idea of corporate citizenship. We all know the verbiage. If you depend on open source software, it depends on you to improve and ultimately perfect the platform. When our companies demonstrate the power of the CMS projects like Drupal or WordPress, it really solidifies (their) relevance. You know, it helps us have, have a selling point for our clients. And working in open source can really help build stronger teams internally. You know, you have your interns or your project managers or your human resource people in the issue queue and giving back, they learn to code, they learn workflows, they learn how to collaborate and take feedback. And, of course, employee retention. Most people like to give back. We will do it on our own time and when we do that, that can lead to burnout. So if employees or employers give us that space to do it, happy employees mean less turnover, which means less money having to go out to train new folks, which again, leads to less turnaround because it helps build the morale and camaraderie across the team. So there's not only that corporate citizenship, but there's that employee relation part that comes along with it.

Bob: Why should an organization or a company using Drupal invest in giving back to the community?

AmyJune: Okay. So I think it helps secure work with future vendors who value contribution, you know. Vendors look at RFPs and they look at organization pages and look and see what's important for an organization. And if you have an agency or team that you work with that values contributions, it's really important to have an organization that helps you give back. And I think that using the code that others have worked on helps save that organization money, which in turn can be a gateway to more contributions because, we think about it, less money spent upfront on good code means there's more time and money later in the project to contribute back so others can have that same experience when they download the project, and it can help definitely accentuate the company brand. Having their name on case studies, projects, pages on drupal.org can lead to conversions. So I think those are pretty important reasons to invest in Drupal.

Bob: Yeah, that's great. I would add onto that too, like on a technical side, f you hire an agency to write a bunch of code for you and you're using it on your site, if it can be contributed back, if there's no reason for it not to be contributed back, other people can use it, they can, they will find bugs, they will improve it. It's all the same reasons that we use Drupal in the first place is that when we contribute to something together, collectively, we all can reap the benefits of it. So it's not just like we're over on our own island, writing our own stuff or doing our own thing, but we're working together and improving, even if it's not intentional, if it's just selfish, it still benefits people. That's one of the beautiful things about it.

Mario: Right. and so we we've been talking about contributing back and, for the most part, most people think, okay, contributing back means writing some piece of code, maybe a module or a theme, but can you tell us, AmyJune, what are other ways in which organizations, clients, companies can contribute back to the community, whether it's WordPress or Drupal.

AmyJune: This is where I get really excited because you know, my whole theme is you don't have to be a coder or developer to give back the Drupal. So there are tons of ways for companies to give back besides code. Say you have a remote office where English is the second language, you can have those folks help with translations of the project. Case studies, you have some folks who are really good at writing case studies help the community grow as a whole. They help with the overall marketing of Drupal: blog articles, newsletters, podcasts like this, digital marketing. It can all move Drupal and WordPress projects into, you know, the open public eye. And again, those articles, podcasts, contributions, attributions, any of those can lead to conversions, and having those resources in the public eye can lead the public to your company and to your products. Sending your team to give presentations and trainings at camps and conferences. This also helps with employee retention and their overall happiness. Have some extra cash? Sponsoring a camp is an easy way for companies to help the larger Drupal thrive. Let's see, camps and conferences provide cutting-edge trainings and sessions to put it like that that aren't always available yet on the web. Many camps are nonprofits and the sponsorships can be written off as a tax deductible donations. You can contribute to documentation. I mean, there's just, there's a plethora of things you can do that don't involve code.

Bob: So you've kind of been on the front lines of working at an organization as an open source advocate and a community liaison and, you know, working with the community and doing that at an agency. And that's, I think still kind of a new concept and people are still trying to figure it out or make sense of it. But so I'm wondering if you would have some advice for organizations that are interested in getting started contributing back to the community and what would that process be like, what would be their first steps to take?

AmyJune: So I really think that organizations should send more of their folks to camps and conferences' contribution days. You know, historically we've sent our coders and our marketers, but why not send our human resource people? Why not send our operational staff? Why not send our sales staff? We send them to contribution days and they learn all the different ways they can give back and it gives them a sense of feeling like the community, you know, it shouldn't just be our marketers and our coders that feel that community, it should be everyone. And that gets everyone excited. But I really do think that that's a really good first step because there's this feeling in a contribution room in a first-time workshop where other people are learning with you, and then there's a live code commit, and you can see all of your stuff happening in real time. I think that's really exciting.

Mario: That's actually a really great point and I think we are seeing at least in Drupal, we are seeing on Drupalcon we see different tracks for Drupal is not just about code anymore. It now includes marketing and other tracks. So I love that you know, you don't have to write code in order to come and be part of the community, right? And experience that.

AmyJune: I think, I think WordCamp U.S. does a great job with their contribution day because they have it's not nearly as large as a Drupalcon contribution day, but it's more dynamic. It's not just code and documentation. They have tables for translations. They have tables for event organizers. They have more collaborative spaces, like say you're not interested in working in code at all. There's only two coding tables and there's 50 other tables to choose from, so I think that they really win in that space.

Mario: Absolutely, absolutely. So, you know, I think Bob touched on this earlier about, you know, how we work with an agency, right? And sometimes we want to encourage a client to contribute a piece of code that we just wrote for them that can certainly benefit other people, but in your experience, what would be a way in which organizations like yours or ours can motivate or encourage clients to contribute back to the community?

AmyJune: You know, I only have one answer to this. I think leading by example, giving back for the sake of giving back, I think is very inspirational. The more I go to camps and talk to CEOs and agency leaders and things like that, and talk about my role and how important it is and how good I feel and how the team feels, the more they hear that from more people. I think, I think that I've encouraged some folks to sort of step up to the plate a little bit more, you know. My role is hard to fill, you know, it's hard to make a case for having a full-time community person, but you just kind of have to do it, right? You know, if your agency really, really wants to be motivated and give back, you need to have that role. Maybe not with one person, maybe dividing it out with three, but having people that have designated time to do that, I think encourages other folks to do it because they see you in the community, they see you coming back, they see how happy you are. They see how happy you make other people feel, you know, that kind of thing. I hope that doesn't sound too selfish.

Mario: No, not at all. Absolutely. I think that leading by example is definitely the best way to motivate somebody. Yes.

Bob: Yeah, totally. It's something I've noticed, too, that people have found interesting is our teams with clients. Sometimes the folks that we're working with will be surprised that our team is so passionate about what we do and because open source is a big part of that. And I think that is an attractive thing. And when people, you want to work with people that are passionate about whatever they're doing, and it's the fact that we get to work with open source makes us, you know, more likely to be passionate.

Mario: Right.

Bob: Do you have any resources that would be good for organizations trying to get started with contribution?

AmyJune: I think going back to that that first page that we mentioned in, in what is it slash community?

Bob: Slash community, drupal.org/community, or make.wordpress.org. And there are other, you know, if you don't use WordPress or Drupal, a lot of open source projects have community pages or ways to get connected. And so that would that, you know, it doesn't just have to be Drupal or WordPress, but whatever.

And I think, I think folks going to their first cramp and their first Drupalcon or their first Wordcamp, that can really be inspiring because they see, they see the community and they see the interactions, you know, so I think that's a really nice place to start, too.

Bob: Meeting people in the community is what really got me kind of hooked on open source. Previously all I had my experience with it was people telling me to go read the manual and you're stupid and that kind of thing. But when I actually met real people in person, they were an open source community that, that really got me.

Mark: But to be fair, Bob, read the, read the manual, will ya?

Bob: Yeah, of course.

Mark: It was really great talking to you, and that's it for today's show. Thanks for joining us. Looking for more useful tips, technical takeaways and creative insights? You want to go visit media current.com/podcast for more episodes, and to be able to subscribe to our newsletter. Thanks for playing.

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