This past Wednesday I dialled into the Mozilla's weekly delivery meeting for Firefox and Gecko. Unfortunately, this required a long-distance call; my schedule constrained the meeting I could “attend”. On the up side, as an end-user I had some context to understand what was being discussed. Listening in on the developer meeting held Tuesdays might have been more arduous, if the wiki notes are anything to judge by.
It was of interest that the meeting's wiki page was used by the speakers. Each speaker edited in a summery of their points prior to, and sometimes almost right before, their turn to speak. One could tell who was absent simply by observing the empty sections on the page! Aside from leaving a record for the future, the wiki page content also helped me understand the point being discussed whenever it became difficult to hear what was being said; I suspect the meeting participants also appreciate the alternate channel the wiki provides.
Next I viewed a lecture by Mike Beltzner. He gave a brief overview of some of tools used for development and communications by Mozilla, such as Bugzilla and IRC. Beltzner also spoke about netiquette and how to go about communicating and asking for help, of respecting other people's time by being up front with what you need help with, doing the research before hand, and of course listening and implementing feedback. This was related to the brief section on “social capital” and the relationship between the influence of a person with the perceived value of the person by the community. I touched on this in a previous from a wiki sysop's perspective post where I related how a contributor's enthusiasm was no substitute for integration when seeking to become a valued member of a project.
Finally there was David Humphrey's lecture “Learning to be at the festival”. Humphrey emphasized the most important element of open source is the community rather than the code. The prominence of the code and product as the public face of the project makes it easy to forget that the participants, the community, are the project's fount and true source of influence. He also touched on ways to help new contributors submerge themselves into the project, such as existing contributors acting as mentors.