Netdata users and contributors comprise a large, global, but somewhat fragmented community – or a set of communities. You can find us on IRC (#netdata on freenode), on Reddit, on social media, and, of course, on GitHub, where the main open-source Netdata project repo lives. And yes, you can find us on other platforms as well.
GitHub is a great way to get in touch with the Netdata team and project contributors to tell them about bugs or to discuss new features. But we realized that bug reports are not a conversation that works for everyone. A more informal and easier-to-access communication channel would provide a better way for the community to congregate and engage, and would also provide an easier way for everybody to talk to the team. We wanted to provide the community a home.
To us, the various communication platforms we have access to are like hotels (perhaps except GitHub, which is closer to being our virtual office building!). You can go there, and you can get what you expect: a very well-defined and well-supported set of features, but without the personal touch and without the ability to customize the experience to our project’s and our community’s specific needs.
Our community has been very helpful with providing feedback about improving existing features in Netdata. We’ve decided to be more open about upcoming features, so that we can close that feedback loop as early as possible. We want to be able to listen to your feedback even while features are being planned and developed. And we believe that, in the future, this will also allow us to provide users with early access to certain features. Furthermore, there are vastly more people using Netdata in production environments and with complex infrastructures than there are people contributing to the project! The community can be a great source of ideas for new features or features we may have omitted, but are necessary for specific use cases.
While we have been successful at providing support and answering questions on Github and via email, we believe that having a fully online knowledge base will be very beneficial for the project. We plan to move a lot of our technical support questions into the community. Github integration will be provided, and the team will be there to respond as needed, but we will also have the additional benefit of users being able to help each other and read through previous responses.
Apart from technical questions, we often get questions about the project itself, or about the company, or about our team’s philosophy and approach to solving problems and software development. We plan to run Q&As with various people from the team to help give our community a better understanding of who we are and why we do what we do.
Our open-source contributors are an important part of the team. We hope to see many of them on the new forums where we can talk to each other outside of Github and get to know each other better. We are also considering moving our contributor-of-the-month award to the community rather than handling it on GitHub.
Lastly, we expect to see a user advisory board emerge from the community with our help. Having a group of dedicated community members who understand Netdata well and also understand their specific infrastructure monitoring requirements will help the project stay on track and grow the community around it.