One thing that makes communities so interesting is their diversity, which can be characterized by how the community structures itself. Compare openoffice.org vs. tigris.org, for example. While both are focused on building open source applications, they differ in how community efforts are organized. Where tigris.org is organized by
tool type (scm, issuetrack, requirements), openoffice.org is categorized by product management (product development, promotion, distribution, language
development and support).
So, how do communities categorize? Sometimes natural groupings form around areas like technology drivers, organizational alignment, partner alignment, and
application type. For others, the need to categorize manifests later when the community realizes that there’s lots of good stuff out there, but no way to find it all.
If it becomes your task to assert some community structure, consider the following:
- How would new community members easily find stuff? Would they start out looking for efforts within a specific branch of government or efforts that relate to a
specific type of artillery used in any government branch?
- How do community members characterize their efforts? Do they align with .Net vs. Java code efforts or accounting apps vs. marketing apps?
- What type of alignment supports your Community Goals? Would having a category for each Reference Architecture help you identify improved levels of knowledge sharing and compliance? This typically resonates with Enterprise communities, who want to prove the value of their community investment.
Community categorization reinforces the mission of the community. As many thriving communities have discovered, having a strong categorization helps new community members understand how to successfully participate within the community.
How is your community categorized?