We’ve all heard the African proverb: "It takes a village to raise a child." I’d like to extend it to say that it takes a community to make us successful. Whether it happens to be friends, religious groups, athletic teams, or business partnerships, the relationships around us make us successful. I’d like to talk about a couple types of communities and then about a specific community that has grown over the past eight years in Minnesota to the point where it is now rumored to be the largest of its type in North America.
The Open Source community as a whole has had a major impact on my life. The knowledge that I’ve gained from adopting, modifying and deploying open source solutions is on par with knowledge gained while at university. While I have benefitted greatly from open source, so has the software itself in the form of bug reports, tutorials, code submitted, and word of mouth advertising for a particular project. Open Source Software lives and dies according to the success of its community. I never adopt anything open source unless I can see an active community behind the project. I expect frequent updates to the code base, engaged product support, progress in its feature stack, and developers listening to the end users. If any of these are lacking, the project will likely die or at the very least stagnate.