There was once a time when we marveled at the global nature of the open source user and contributor community, when it was a thrill to get a question or patch from an address ending in .nz or .jp or .cl., or to hear about your software running at the Vatican or the International Space Station. These days, it’s a given that the more popular an open source project is, the more likely its user and contributor community span continents and cultures.
Well-run open source projects recognize that fact, and often take a series of steps to build their global user and contributor base. Those steps can include basic ones like ensuring Unicode and 8-bit-clean text handling in their UI, providing localization via resource bundles, or translating documentation. Others realize there’s often a human and cultural gap to cross, so they invest in growing local user communities and support forums, or flying core maintainers to present at conferences they might not otherwise reach. The hardest, but potentially the most important thing, is for projects to look at the pathways for users to become participants and contributors, everything from the forums and mailing lists to regular conference calls all can inadvertently create barriers for people in other time zones and who use other communication methods.
We are just beginning this journey at OpenSSF. To date the vast majority of active contributors are based in the US, with a smidge in Europe and Australia. However, the people we’d like to reach with the OpenSSF’s different guides, specifications, services and software are global, and we know there are potential contributors to our efforts everywhere too. To support that, you’ll see us start to prioritize things like moving meetings to more globally convenient times; investing in translations of our work products; and putting together more virtual (and eventually face-to-face) meetings focused on the global audience.
On Thursday, March 24th, at 11am Hong Kong time (also 8:30am IST, 11am SGT, 12pm Japan, Korea and 2pm Australia) we’ll be hosting a virtual event introducing OpenSSF to the Asia-Pacific audience. David Wheeler, Julian Gordon and I will be joined by VM Brasseur from Wipro to give an overview of what we’re doing and how people from the region can get involved. Please come if you’re at all interested!
If there’s other things you think we can do to be more globally accessible, don’t hesitate to jump on the OpenSSF Slack, we’d love to hear from you.