Regional groups have been proposed by Louis Suarez-Potts, our Community Manager. The concept of regional groups has been discussed from time to time in the NLC Project, and we discussed it again during OOoCon2009 in Beijing.
The concept of Native Language communities has worked very well for some languages, but we see that for some places it is still very difficult to build a community even if members contributing to the project are already there. For example Africa and India have several different languages for one large region, or Australia and England have the same language but very different cultures.
It is very difficult to get members connected if we rely only on the language concept for those places. We need some people able to coordinate communication and actions between Regional Groups and the International Community.
The most important step is to identify the methodology or model we can use to federate those Regional Groups. It should be easy to set up and further help should be easy to find. The Native Language Confederation has a role to play here in this identification and mentoring. This is especially true for those projects who are representing the community in events, and who have already organized RegiCons or who federate several FLOSS projects together.
Regions do not need to be defined by countries. For example if we identify that we need more communication and meetings between groups based in Europe, we can form a European Regional Group. When discussing it with the members of the NLC present at OOoCon, we decided to try to set up a face-to-face meeting first and then see how to go further with a larger meeting.
To be able to go further, we also need a dedicated budget for this group in order to be able to meet, and organize our communication.
What kind of contributions?
The main goal is to meet people and talk to them about the project: how it works, who are your neighbors, and how to meet and talk to them. We can meet with other FLOSS groups and share our experience. Connecting people (sorry Nokia ;-) ) everywhere, every time, and help them to enter the project by any door.
Well, of course 2009 is a developer dedicated year, but some examples of contributions are:
- L10nQA: We have now around 100 localized version of OOo, but only a few get out of the RC stage because of lack of testing.
- DevQA: We need more people participating to QA on the developers build to improve the overall quality of our product. OOo3.0. was not so good in this regard.
- We need people localizing the OOo satellites (extensions, templates,...).
- We need people able to attract new developers.
- Documentation is another important area, being for the developer and the end user.
- RegiCons : Workshops, conferences, BOF, meetings between developers and contributors.
Regional Groups should be seen as a continuation of the Native Language Confederation in the continuous effort to grow the community. I think that it should also help MarCon to feel less isolated in their countries and provide opportunities for them to meet and exchange information about their local interventions.
Being an interface between the community and users is not an easy task that will happen quite often to Regional Group members. I don't know how to legitimate this role of coordinator in the project, however I think it is important. They will be locally visible and need to know that they have full community support. This lead to the question, how does someone become a coordinator? This needs to be defined in a 'Who' part.
We should have a dedicated meeting once a year for the coordinators (and the members who want to attend of course) to get the feedback on what has been done and where we can improve the task. We currently really lack this kind of meeting, even for NLC members.