What is an Open Source Community? with Thierry Carrez
Play • 23 min

Trying to define what an open source community is might sound like a simple task, but it is a layered, nuanced collective with many moving parts. Today's guest, Thierry Carrez, has been in the open source community for years and is currently the VP of engineering at the Open Infrastructure Foundation. In this episode, Thierry sheds light on some of the key traits that characterize open source communities. We hear about the importance of governance, principles, scope, and documentation and find out how everyone, even those who do not code, can contribute. As Thierry notes, it is not about your technical ability, but rather about adding value where you can and being an engaged member of a community. Building a sustainable community requires effort, but that transparency and collaboration make it a worthwhile endeavor.  

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The characteristics of an open source community; it’s more complicated than it appears. 
  • Two major motivations for why people contribute to an open source community. 
  • The three fundamental tenets every open source community needs, according to Thierry. 
  • How someone can get involved in an open source community. 
  • The bar for contributions is not very high, so any input is likely to be valuable. 
  • Some advice on the complex topic of starting a new open source project. 
  • Why open source that is owned by one body defeats the point of collaboration. 
  • The Four Opens principles and how they facilitate sustainable, inclusive communities. 
  • How you can build a reputation in the open source community.


“An open source community at the very bottom is all the people who contribute to an open source project but obviously, that just kicks the can down the road and now the question is, what is a contribution?” — @tcarrez [0:02:10]

“Even if you don’t write code or if your time is limited, you can definitely participate in and be part of a community.” — @tcarrez [0:12:51]

“Having an open source project is ultimately to avoid the waste of having several parties develop the same thing on their side while they could collaborate and contribute and avoid wasting that energy by doing it as a collaborative project in open source.” — @tcarrez [0:16:02]

“It’s really not about code, it’s really not about being a technical rock star. It is really more about being useful to others.” — @tcarrez [0:23:44]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Thierry Carrez

Open Infrastructure Foundation

Alan Clark

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