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Want to Build Your Community? Take Notes from the Django Project.

Use this checklist if you want to make sure a community doesn't form around your project. (Or take tips from Django to build and keep an enthusiastic community.)

I first heard about the Django project a few years ago when I talked to a fellow attendee at an industry event in San Francisco. When I told him that I'm from Lawrence, Kansas, he replied, “That's where the Django project started.” No love for the University of Kansas Jayhawks, William Burroughs, Dorothy and Toto, or the apocalyptic movie The Day After, just enthusiasm about meeting someone from the Land of Django. Then I noticed the pattern: Every open source-focused event I attended attracted engaged Django community members. Or was it that the Django project fostered an engaged, enthusiastic community? This list will show you what to do if you don’t want a community to form around your project, and what the Django project is doing to foster their community: 1. Play hard to get: The Django project makes it easy to get involved. Just look at that website — Community gets top billing as if it's as important as code. As if! 2. Do not attract new and diverse contributors: Django is extremely inviting to new contributors. If contributors couldn't make it to Amsterdam for recent DjangoCon EU 2011 sprints, for example, they were encouraged to participate on freenode IRC. And core developers were available to review tickets and assist in the process! The Django project goes out of its way to help members of the community. The website includes an FAQ, invites users to file a ticket if their questions aren't answered in the FAQ, and encourages users to chat live in the #django IRC channel or ask questions on the Django users mailing list. 3. Do not engage or energize your community: On the Django Community page, the project lists community blog posts, Django jobs, an RSS feed with Django Q&A, Django links, and a list of updated packages. The site also has a Tell the world section with a list of Django-powered sites so you can add your site to the mix, Django badges so you can show your support, and Django logos and wallpaper to download. 4. Make sure your scope is too narrow so you won't have any users: Clearly the scope of the Django web framework project isn't too narrow because DjangoSites.org showcases 4,162 websites powered by Django. 5. Make sure your scope is too broad so you won't have any maintainers: The Django Project has three buildmaster maintainers and an international team of volunteer developers. 6. Do not listen to the user base: File a ticket, add to the wiki or documentation, leave comments on the website, chime in via IRC, ask questions on the mailing list, or email one of the maintainers – Django makes easy for users to be heard. 7. Do not value all levels of contributions: Do you think your criticism is a form of contribution? The Django project wants to track criticisms and improvement suggestions, so use an official ticket tracker for that. Notice an error in the documentation? The Django site says, “Please open a ticket and let us know!” 8. Do not communicate: The Django project communicates on Twitter and IRC, via mailing lists and email and weblogs, at events, and through various official and community RSS feeds. Way to go, Django. You'll never kill your project at this rate. (Special thanks to everyone who chimed in on Twitter and contributed to this article!)

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