Ubuntu Community Lexicon, Part 2

This blog post is a follow-up to UDS-P, the Ubuntu Developer Summit.

"Ubuntu Community". What does it mean?

During UDS-P, I asked publicly for a favour: When we speak about community, lets use adjectives. Let's use more than one adjective if one isn't enough. Let's use precise language to help frame the problems we are trying to solve in the Precise cycle.

To that end, and being a visual thinker, I have begun to map out the Ubuntu community as a first step in developing a lexicon. I hope this will help us frame our discussions and develop a common understanding of what our community looks like.

The words in black are the adjectives that help scope out different parts of the community. The words in blue are processes.

From the map we can see that:

  1. There are far more "non-consumers" of Ubuntu than there are "consumers",
  2. Not everyone who consumes Ubuntu contributes to Ubuntu,
  3. There is a small group of "core" "contributors". Some of them work for Canonical. There are many "contributors" in the "core" and outside the "core" that do not.
  4. Not all "consumers" of Ubuntu are part of "loco teams",
  5. Not all people in "loco teams" contribute.
  6. Some Ubuntu Members "consume" only.
  7. LoCo teams currently play a role in onboarding "contributors".

There are two key processes we need to build/optimize:

  1. Contributor Onboarding: How do we turn "consumers" into "contributors"? Though I've shown the process flowing exclusively through LoCo teams, that's likely not the only on-ramp. Consider the case where a "consumer" hits the boundary of "contributor" on their own. Do we have a process for that? Do we need one?
  2. Consumer Onboarding: How do we bring those who don't currently "consume" Ubuntu into one of the inner circles as quickly and as smoothly as possible?

The diagram has (at least) two distinct cultural boundaries. "Non-consumers" are immersed in a different culture (paradigm) than "consumers" (I pay for my software and I get what I get. My software provider has only a passing interest in me and only where it satisfies their business plan.) "Consumers" are immersed in a different culture (paradigm) than "contributors" (Software is done TO us rather than software is done BY us.). We need to think about these boundaries as potential points of friction.

This is just a beginning of what will become a much richer picture and I've only really scratched the surface of what this depicts. Please add your thoughts in the comments on how we can improve this map. And, if you know of similar work elsewhere, please let me know.



Hi Randall.

Very nice article which points out the core problem Ubuntu has. What is it worth to have consumers in a Free Software ecosystem (besides if you want to earn money from them, which is one of Canonicals target). If we really want to make Ubuntu a good place for contributors, we need to welcome them and let them feel home.

Besides that contributions aren't that hard and if one just spreads the word and helps others he/she is already contributing.

Marcus ;)


At least, I believe the word "consumer" is not so well chosen. Maybe it is more explicit (did I hear "precise"?) but I feel it is less adequate than "user".
For example, we use more often the expression "power user" than… "power consumer".


I prefer "consumer" over "user" since the term "consumer" more clearly represents the non-contributor nature of the relationship. I also refrain from "user" as it sometimes has a negative connotation in IT/tech circles.


Contributing in some way is a requirement to become a Member.


@Mackenzie: I drew it that way as there are some Ubuntu Members that are former contributors. Initial membership requires a sustained contribution, but I don't think contribution level is reviewed after that is granted.


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Tip Jar

Liked one of my articles? Please consider clicking the "Donate" button above

Namecoin (NMC) is also appreciated:

Thanks! Your support helps keep this site free and interesting.

An Ubuntu show right from Vancouver!

Real Local Community