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Justin Nemmers for novu

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Why we're all in on community at Novu, and how you can be, too.

TL;DR; We’re re-defining and relaunching our open source community to add structure, clear definitions, and galvanize how Novu the business will work hand-in-hand with our community to change how notifications are created, managed, and monitored.

A community of IT staff all working together for a common outcome.
Image credit: Lucy Aksek
Why a community at all?

We believe that open source and user communities go hand-in-hand. Technology-focused user communities have existed since the advent of the modern computing and software industry, but it’s been the combination of commercially-backed and supported open source projects that have presented a unique opportunity for both communities and businesses.

In my experience, few companies (and sometimes customers) fully understand that open source is a development methodology, not a business model. When businesses get this wrong, it makes it difficult to build a business and community that fundamentally support one another.

This only grows more important when you consider software that lives as a core part of your infrastructure. Notifications infrastructure, although a relatively new concept, is an increasingly important component of larger applications. Our question is simple, and familiar to open source consumers: why would you trust basing such an important part of your business on something that’s not open source?! It’s the ultimate insurance policy.

In open source, it’s been proven over and over that all of us are better together. Open source-backed software is more secure, gets updated faster, creates more innovation, offers more flexibility and choice, and ultimately, more freedom.

And so, the choice is clear: you wouldn’t build your own SSL library or operating system… so why build your own notifications infrastructure? While there are other available SaaS-based tools, Novu is the only open-source backed platform out there. And it’s the community that will continue to help make it even better.

Why is open source important for notifications?

There’s little doubt that open source-based development models have revolutionized—and in many ways enabled modern computing and software in massive ways. Now commonplace methodologies like DevOps and cloud computing are all fundamentally rooted in open source.

The reasons open source and notifications go hand in hand are the same as other industry-leading libraries and tools are the same reasons basing a key part of your application stack such as notifications is a smart move, and it all comes back to community.

  1. Communities drive innovation.
  2. Communities drive security.
  3. Open source gives you the freedom to take (or leave) a vendor that doesn’t provide you value.

But this isn’t a post about why open source. It’s a post about the awesome community!

Traits of a Successful Community

Clear vision and goals

Everyone must understand why the community exists, and what we’re working to mutually achieve. This happens with communication of clear objectives and asks.

Structure, active leadership, and sustainable governance

Strong leadership and structure is crucial for community guidance, decision making, and conflict resolution. The sponsoring business needs to be approachable, responsive, and inclusive. It should also be built in a way that ensures sustainability over the long run, allowing for community input and joint decision-making.

The structure also ensures that community members understand how to progress their skills and involvement.

Engaged contributors

Build processes and rules of engagement that solicit feedback and input from a diverse group of community contributors. Work to actively involve community members in a variety of discussions, decision-making, and not just project development.

Open communication

Create an environment of open communication, discussion, and transparency. Ensure that community members know where to participate in discussions, what the goals are, and ways to keep updated on outcomes through regular meetings, planned events, etc.

Documentation and resources

Comprehensive documentation, resources, and other content that reliably helps new users get started, guide contributors, and provide clear channels for input on documentation, new content ideas, events, as well as software development.

Recognition and rewards

Formal programs that recognize and reward top contributors for their impact, whether through public acknowledgment, awards, or other incentives.

Events and activities

Plan and support ongoing community events such as hackathons, meetups, conferences, and user groups to further foster collaboration, networking, and idea sharing.

Clear business support, and a clear benefit

There should never be a question about how the business is directly supporting the community, and how the community member and business alike benefits from that support.

There are well-defined boundaries between the project and the product

The open source project must provide real and sustained value, and how the product and project differ is well understood and defined. For example, Ansible the CLI was clearly different than the thing that managed it at scale, Ansible Tower. Two tools, two value propositions.

Here, we have the Novu Project, which is completely open source, and Novu the Product, which is based on the open source project, and offered as a paid service, where we handle all the hosting, scaling, and more.

(Re) introducing the Novu Community

The size and engagement from the Novu community to date has been a significant driving factor in our growth as a business. Over the past several years, we have successfully adopted several of the traits I listed above, but equally lacked many of the key areas that lead to continued community adoption and participation.

Our commitment to you, the community, is that we are going to formally do every one of these.

Over the next few days, we’ll be publishing and opening comments on a number of community structure documents that will add a tremendous amount of structure and definition, and therefore clarity to our valuable community.

Whether you’re a consumer of our open source project, a builder of solutions, a channel provider/partner company we connect to, or a code contributor, we want to hear from you, and support your continued involvement in our community.

Join the conversation

Ready to get involved? We have a number of useful resources to get you engaged:

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