I got an email today from a friend who's trying to gather "community" around his project. More people should be involved in this, he said. Do you know any contacts, tools, or resources that might help? This was my reply. (Methinks I should start a 'community' tag in my blog, and aggregate these notes better for the CommArch team, but I'll settle for getting material out there first.)

Don't expand yet. I know it's tempting, but don't expand - you need a stronger presence and a tighter focus before inviting more people in. Until I can look at a webpage without talking to anyone and say "okay, this is what you're about, here is what's going on, here's how you're moving forward and how you work together, and everyone is obviously in touch with one another," you need to concentrate on strengthening the bonds between the people you already have rather than bringing new people in.

This doesn't preclude transparency - radical transparency is still vital. It is perfectly all right to say "hey, this isn't ready for participation yet, but here's everything we're doing, you can see everything that's going on." And they might surprise you and find ways to help out anyway - so long as they know it's not ready for new volunteers and they should expect a bumpy ride.

So: contacts this week = the folks already on your team. You know them already, but are you being good resources for one another? What is everyone doing? What could you help them with? What are they aiming for?

And here's what you tell the interested people in the meantime. "We want you to contribute. What do you want to do? What do you want to work on? We're still trying to figure out how people can help, so if you join this mailing list you can see everything that's going on and we'll give a loud shout when we have ways for you to participate. Better yet, if you have your own ideas in the meantime for what you think you could do, please share them and start them - you don't have to ask permission, we're all experimenting with this. What do you think you could do? What would you like to learn?"

Something like that, but more coherent. ;)