Yesterday, Josh Matthews posted a very interesting blog about building up data about Mozilla’s community. It caught my eye.

It surprises me a little bit that we have so little data on our community, and I think it’s exciting that Josh has started the ball rolling on gathering data in the area.

I have a few questions for the wider internet about Josh’s post:

1) What do other open source communities do in this area? How do they go about gathering data about the community?
Other large open source projects must have their own strategies for community engagement. I wonder what they are doing to drive engagement. Are they making educated “shots in the dark” as Mozilla has been doing, or are there existing solutions to measure and benchmark the effects of community engagement processes?

2) How can we use the data that we gather to change our goals for community building and involvement?
This is a problem that many startups deal with on a day-to-day basis. There are always more feature and product ideas than there is time to implement them. The key challenge is to decide what to do, and that decision requires careful data analysis. Can we use some of the strategies and tools that for-profit startups use?

3) What other data should we be gathering? What other data visualization will help us make decisions and drive community involvement?
We have a goldmine of data in Bugzilla. How can we make more use of it?

Unfortunately, I don’t have answers to these questions. However, I do think it’s a great opportunity. We know there’s plenty of room to improve community engagement and we know the impact is huge. Let’s continue to explore, and let’s see if we can learn from other projects who have similar problems to solve!