Build Your Own Contributors (One Part at a Time)

Denise Paolucci (Dreamwidth Studios), Mark Smith (Dreamwidth Studios)
Focus on Community
Location: 2009 Level:
Average rating: ***..
(3.67, 9 ratings)

Dreamwidth Studios, a code fork of the LiveJournal open source blogging software, averages 50 commits a week from over 70 unique contributors. Over half of those contributors have either never programmed in Perl or never contributed to an Open Source project before, and roughly 75% of those contributors are women.

Mark Smith and Denise Paolucci, owners of Dreamwidth Studios, will discuss the tactics they’ve used to make their project successful, including:

  • Lowering the barrier to entry for new contributors, both experienced programmers and newcomers to the Open Source world, and how doing so creates an environment that enables the experienced developers on the project to work even faster.
  • Creating a mentoring program that accepts anyone who wants to learn that teaches programming in Perl (the project’s language), using Linux, designing good code architecture, and navigating the social norms of an Open Source project, without sacrificing your project’s ability to innovate advanced features.
  • Fostering an atmosphere of collaboration, not competition.
  • Harnessing users’ passion for the product and turning them into contributors passionate about the project.
  • Adapting these techniques to projects of all types, sizes, and lifecycle points, with practical tips for easy implementation.

If you want to broaden your contributor base and build an inclusive, passionate developer community, come and learn how to apply Dreamwidth’s methods to your own project.

Denise Paolucci

Dreamwidth Studios

Denise Paolucci is the co-founder of Dreamwidth Studios (, a blogging and community platform. She also serves on the board of directors of the Ada Initiative, a nonprofit working to improve the representation of women in “open stuff”. She’s been working in open source for fifteen years, and will talk your ear off about accessibility, disability, diversity, creativity, community, privacy, and knitting, although probably not all at the same time.

Photo of Mark Smith

Mark Smith

Dreamwidth Studios

Mark Smith began volunteering with in 2001. He joined the staff in 2004 and concentrated on backend development, where he contributed heavily to systems such as Perlbal (load balancer) and MogileFS (distributed file storage).

He has since worked for companies such as Six Apart, Mozilla, and Google on tasks from systems administration to software development to site architecture.

Mark resides near San Francisco, CA, USA with his partner and two children.

Silverlight Showcase
  • Microsoft Corporation
  • .CO
  • Adobe Systems, Inc.
  • Ericsson
  • Germany Trade & Invest
  • IBM
  • Berlin Partner
  • blueKiwi
  • EffectiveUI
  • HP
  • Neustar, Inc.
  • OpenSRS
  • OpenText
  • PayPal
  • Pearltrees
  • The Planet

Rob Koziura
(415) 947-6111

Kaitlin Pike
(415) 947-6306

View a complete list of Web 2.0 Expo contacts.