Online Community Metrics: Tips and Techniques for Measuring Participation

Accepted Session
Short Form
Scheduled: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 from 3:45 – 4:30pm in B302/03


Do you know what people are really doing in your open source project? Having good community data and metrics for your open source project is a great way to understand what works and what needs improvement over time, and metrics can also be a nice way to highlight contributions from key project members. This session will focus on tips and techniques for collecting and analyzing metrics from tools commonly used by open source projects. It's like people watching, but with data.


The best thing about open source projects is that you have all of your community data in the public at your fingertips. You just need to know how to gather the data about your open source community so that you can hack it all together to get something interesting that you can really use. We’ll start with some general guidance for coming up with a set of metrics that makes sense for your project. The focus of the session will be on tips and techniques for collecting metrics from tools commonly used by open source projects: Bugzilla, MediaWiki, Mailman, IRC and more. It will include both general approaches and technical details about using various data collection tools, like mlstats. The final section of the presentation will talk about techniques for sharing this data with your community and highlighting contributions from key community members. For anyone who loves playing with data as much as I do, metrics can be a fun way to see what your community members are really doing in your open source project.

Speaking experience


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    Dawn Foster

    Puppet Labs


    Geek, Community Manager, Blogger, Vegan and Technology Enthusiast.

    Dawn Foster is the Community Manager at Puppet Labs. Dawn has more than 17 years of experience in business and technology with expertise in strategic planning, management, community building, community management, open source software, market research, social media, and RSS. She is passionate about bringing people together through a combination of online communities and real-world events. She has experience building new communities, and managing existing communities with a particular emphasis on developer and open source communities. Most recently, Dawn was leading the Community Office within Intel’s Open Source Technology Center. In addition to working at Intel, Dawn was an online community consultant, and she has worked at Jive Software, Compiere, and a Midwestern manufacturing company in positions ranging from Unix system administrator to market researcher to community manager to open source strategist.

    While at Jive Software, she was responsible for building a new developer community for Jive’s new Clearspace product line and managing the existing Ignite Realtime open source community. Dawn was an organizer for earlier versions of Portland BarCamp, Ignite Portland and other events. Dawn holds an MBA from Ashland University and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Kent State University. Dawn occasionally blogs about online communities as the author of the Fast Wonder Blog, and she was a past blogger for GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily. She is the author of two books: Companies and Communities: Participating without being sleazy and What Dawn Eats: Vegan food that isn’t weird.