I'm writing this blogpost to simultaneously (1) inform the Fedora community about what's up with Fedora Marketing, (2) display my thought processes from working through a non-CS way of contributing to OSS projects in the hopes that POSSE profs will get  ideas on how to get their non-technical students involved, and (3) propose an answer to the Sugar Labs question "how do we clone Greg Smith?" (Greg == superstar product manager and fellow OLPC alumni.)

I wrote earlier about Fedora Marketing's schedule for the F12 release, which has now been finalized; you can see it at https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Marketing_F12_schedule (currently in extraordinarily nonchronological and ugly wiki formatting, soon to be replaced by a link to somewhere that won't make you want to gouge your eyeballs out).

The F12 schedule was made by taking the generic Marketing schedule template and tweaking it to have the proper dates for the F12 cycle. Incidentally, we need someone to convert this file to taskjuggler format - see https://fedorahosted.org/marketing-team/ticket/1 - and we're trying to create self-encapsulated starter tasks like this that newcomers can Just Pick Up (professors with marketing students, take note!) We're using a ticketing system for tracking tasks now instead of Mediawiki table syntax, so that's... a huge improvement. I'd also like to get the triagebot that was used for OLPC release management running on this as well - ping me if you know where to find the code.

Anyhow. While I was working on getting all this together, NC Central professor Cameron Seay and I tossed around an idea for getting more project managers (PMs, or "People Like Greg Smith") into OSS. Because we need more good cat-herders. Because student PMs need practice parachuting into a project they're unfamiliar with and not in charge of and being able to get that house in order.

Do you think there might be a PM class that would be willing to act as PM coaches for OSS projects? A class with at least a few students who'd be interested in teaching someone(s) the stuff that they've just learned. It would be really awesome if, every week or every other week, I could pop into an IRC channel with PM students there, and say "hey, this is what's happening, I'm really confused about X, can you help me figure out what ways to think about it, what frameworks and tools and tips you're learning that we could use?"

So, questions for the metabrain:

  1. Anyone interested in getting PM classes to participate in OSS projects this way (holding office hours) or some other way (any ideas? I'd guess that assigning students to PM a project for the whole semester only works if the semester and release schedules align, which seems unlikely.)
  2. Is there a better way than (1) of solving the "we could use PM volunteers" problem?
  3. Anybody want to help out with the PM infrastructure of Fedora Marketing?

Note to self: it's hard to write something that tries to simultaneously cater to three different audiences. Must experiment with different ways of doing that.