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Build Your Own Contributors, One Part At A Time

Time:10:30 - 11:15
Day:Wednesday 20 January 2010
Location:Renouf 2 (MFC)
Project: Dreamwidth Studios

Dreamwidth Studios, a code fork of the LiveJournal open source blogging software, averages 50 commits a week from over 40 unique contributors. Over half of those contributors have either never programmed in Perl or never contributed to an Open Source project before, and roughly 75% of those contributors are women.


Mark Smith and Denise Paolucci, owners of Dreamwidth Studios, discuss the tactics they've used to make their project successful, including:

  • Lowering the barrier to entry for new contributors, both experienced programmers and newcomers to the Open Source world, and how doing so creates an environment that enables the experienced developers on the project to work even faster.
  • Creating a mentoring program that accepts anyone who wants to learn that teaches programming in Perl (the project's language), using Linux, designing good code architecture, and navigating the social norms of an Open Source project, without sacrificing your project's ability to innovate advanced features.
  • Fostering an atmosphere of collaboration, not competition.
  • Harnessing users' passion for the product and turning them into contributors passionate about the project.

If you want to broaden your contributor base and build an inclusive, passionate developer community, come and learn how to apply Dreamwidth's methods to your own project.

Denise Paolucci

Denise Paolucci began working on the LiveJournal.com project in 2001. Since then, she's done everything from customer service to product planning to documentation to user advocacy to QA testing to falling over exhausted because she's trying to do too much at once. Denise lives in Baltimore, Maryland, USA with her long-suffering girlfriend, who fortunately enjoys the frequent "c'mere, look, isn't this cool?" invocations, and two cats, who don't care about the internet as long as they get fed on time.

Mark Smith

Mark Smith began volunteering with LiveJournal.com in 2001 in technical support and code development. He joined the staff in 2004, concentrating both on feature development and backend development, where he contributed heavily to utilities, such as Perlbal and MogileFS, that are in wide use by many other sites. After transitioning to Six Apart, Mark worked to design and build out the systems infrastructure for the Vox.com product launch. He currently works for Google. Mark resides near San Francisco, CA, USA with his wife Janine and their canine companions.