Community managers and corporate structure

Community managers and corporate structure

Summary: Stormy Peters reflects on where community managers ought to reside in the corporate structure. According to Bernard Golden, community managers ought to be in the support structure of a business.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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Stormy Peters reflects on where community managers ought to reside in the corporate structure. According to Bernard Golden, community managers ought to be in the support structure of a business. I've heard sillier things, but I'm not convinced by a long shot.

Right now, most of the community managers I know (and it's a rapidly growing field, I didn't know any "community manager" types when I started working in the open source market in 1999) work in either marketing or engineering. The problem, of course, is that community management (whatever it is -- few people agree) doesn't fit precisely into either of those areas. It's probably easier within smaller companies that have a flatter organizational chart.

A community manager can "live" and do well in either group, but the group you're in obviously tends to influence your objectives and what you spend your time on. If you spend your time working with and being managed by engineering types, your objectives won't look quite the same as if you were working with and being managed by marketing folks.

The idea that a community manager should be in support, though... I guess that really depends on the company. In my experience, the support group would almost certainly be the wrong group to work in. Support, in my experience, spends its time mired in problems with the company's products. It might make for a good perspective for a company that has focused on building a strong user community -- but doesn't put the community manager in a good place for working with a developer community or putting in place the tools that contributors (and future contributors) need to participate.

At least I hope we can all agree that the community managers don't belong in sales...

Topic: Open Source

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  • Honoured to see you here!

    This is an unexpected pleasure for me: to meet here an important representative of one of the main Linux distro's: openSUSE. :-)

    I love openSUSE 11.0; it's the operating system that I use most on my multi-boot laptop (my desktops run exclusively on Ubuntu 8.04). It's a fine OS.

    I hope to read more from you here, especially about openSUSE.
    Keep up the good work!

    Greeting, Pjotr.
    pjotr123
  • RE: Community managers and corporate structure

    It seems like most organizations with a 'community manager' read the 'community' as 'developer community', which I find interesting. Even at Ubuntu, this is the case (Jono Bacon is the community manager there).

    I'm the 'community manager' for Mandriva, but that 'community' is the *user* community, not the *developer* community. We don't have a manager for the 'developer community' as there's very little difference between a contributor and a paid maintainer at Mandriva, they all just muck in together.

    I view the role as a combination of PR and support, as for me it essentially involves two major things: a) finding people who run Mandriva, helping them solve problems and getting their input, and b) advocating for Mandriva within 'the community', usually by trying to make it as prominent on websites read by regular end-users as possible.
    AdamWill