Grants/Increasing Volunteer Engagement with Creative Commons Technology Development

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Increasing Volunteer Engagement with Creative Commons Technology Development

Applicants: OpenHatch
Affiliation: OpenHatch
CC affiliated? No
Contact: Gavin Baker
Coordinator: Asheesh Laroia
Project Start: 2010/08/16
Project End: 2010/11/01
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Describe the project you are proposing as clearly as possible in just five sentences.

Free software developers have built really important tools in the Creative Commons ecosystem, but they are not experts in building and sustaining communities around that software. OpenHatch is an involvement engine for free and open source software, providing free tools to help FOSS projects recruit volunteers and to help volunteers develop their skills and a sense of community. We aim to help CC software developers use OpenHatch's tools to turn the excitement around Creative Commons into more sustainability for their code.

Detail the tangible project output (e.g., paper, blog post, written materials, video/film, etc.; this would be in addition to the final written report that successful grant recipients will be expected to deliver to CC at the conclusion of the project).

Our project will conduct outreach to CC-related software projects, introducing them to OpenHatch. This outreach will improve the CC projects' capacity to recruit, retain, and manage volunteers. Our project will document the results of this outreach, e.g. photos of code sprints, testimonials from developers and volunteers. The output may also include presentations at relevant conferences.

Our project also will produce a brief guide on recruiting and retaining volunteers to FOSS projects, for the benefit of CC-related software projects. The guide will provide background on volunteering and social production, present case studies and lessons learned, and introduce OpenHatch and other tools for volunteer recruitment, retention and development.

In addition, our project will publish several blog posts exploring these topics and highlighting partnerships with CC-related software projects.

Describe the community you are targeting. How would the project benefit the community?

Numerous FOSS applications integrate CC license data to help users license content they create and share or to help users discover and re-use licensed content. These include authoring tools such as and Inkscape; publishing tools such as WordPress and; educational tools such as Omeka and Sakai; and discovery tools such as the CC web search engine. Several FOSS applications are developed by Creative Commons itself.

Our project would benefit this community by developing its capacity for volunteer recruitment and retention, helping projects overcome hurdles to growth and sustainability. More and better volunteers would improve the software developed by the community. By extension, this improved software would benefit CC license users globally.

In addition, our project will empower volunteers to improve their skills and gain valuable experience. By reaching out to new volunteers, our project may introduce Creative Commons to new audiences as />

What is your relationship with the community you are targeting? Why are you the best individual/organization to lead this project? Do you have prior experience in related projects?

OpenHatch is a leader in open source involvement. Introducing its innovative tools to CC-related software projects could help those projects better recruit and retain volunteers. Co-founder Asheesh Laroia is a former Creative Commons software engineer and has established relationships with many projects in the community. Asheesh is also himself a volunteer with FOSS projects.

Project manager Gavin Baker is a leader in the free culture movement. Gavin co-founded Florida Free Culture and served on the Students for Free Culture board of directors. Professionally, Gavin served as Outreach Fellow for SPARC, designing outreach projects to promote open access research. Gavin is also a published author and experienced speaker on free culture and free software.

How will you measure and evaluate your project’s impact - on your main participants? Other contributors? On the larger community?

The main participants of our project are FOSS developers who have contributed to CC-oriented software projects. Our impact on that group can be measured in terms of projects registered on OpenHatch. In addition, OpenHatch has a feature to let people register their interest in contributing to projects, which will serve as a metric for measuring our impact on contributors.

Further, our impact can be measured by the number of "bitesized bugs" registered in OpenHatch for participating projects: both those first marked as bite-sized during the project and those resolved. These "bitesized bugs" are good starting points for new volunteers.

How many participants do you expect to be involved in your project? How will you seek and sustain their involvement?

Our project will conduct direct outreach to 5-25 CC-related software projects, seeking their involvement by explaining the opportunities offered by OpenHatch.

In addition, our project will register 50-200 new OpenHatch members interested in contributing to CC-related software projects.

Describe how your project will benefit Creative Commons' mission to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in "the commons".

CC-related technology projects help people choose an open license for their work, or to locate licensed work for re-use. Our project will improve this essential technical infrastructure by building community, stronger projects, and skilled volunteers.

Describe what technologies and tools your project will use. What kinds of technical skills and expertise do you bring to the project? What are your technical needs?

Our project will leverage the existing OpenHatch technology and Web site. Although OpenHatch has substantial expertise in developing a usable, scalable Web service, our outreach project does not entail new technical needs.

What challenges do you expect to face, and how do you plan to overcome them?

Outreach projects rely on getting people's attention, which can always be a challenge. However, publicizing our project and working through the CC projects' existing communities and processes should open doors. Project manager Gavin Baker has a successful track record in this area.

How do you plan to sustain your project after the Creative Commons funding has ended? Detail specific plans. How do you plan to raise revenue to continue your efforts in the future?

Our project is designed to be self-sustaining, by integrating CC-related software projects into the OpenHatch community and publishing the guide as a lasting resource.

The guide, along with enthusiastic users, will sustain this outreach project. OpenHatch itself has adequate funding to continue operating long after this grant.

How can this project be scalable, or have a scalable impact?

Adding new projects and volunteers to the OpenHatch community will increase referrals and word-of-mouth, spreading its impact to other projects and volunteers. This project is a catalyst to that process.

In addition, this project will serve as a pilot for future outreach efforts at OpenHatch.

What resources and support do you expect Creative Commons to provide to your project to ensure its success (if any)?

We expect the support of Creative Commons in publicizing our project, such as on the CC blog. We could provide content to post, which would improve awareness and volunteer recruitment.

In addition, where CC staff have relationships with the leaders of CC-related software projects, CC could make personal introductions to those leaders as appropriate.

Describe how your organization currently communicates with its community members and network partners. (100 words)

OpenHatch communicates with our community through blog posts, email lists, a microblog on and Twitter, and maintains online discussions through IRC chat.