Is a Major Contributor to an OSS Project a Brand?

The short answer is, I should hope so. The longer one is most definitely complicated and inexplicably ego defined. 

Most developers (or anyone really), starting dipping their toes into open source projects because they thought it was cool and saw an almost immediate return on an issue they (helped) solve or an idea which got implemented and quite possibly built themselves into a SME (subject matter expert) in that area.

This is true for almost any sort of project, I’m just using open source a handy example.

SME almost inherently sets you up to be a brand; you’re known and sought out in as part of the project (and possibly outside of) from those seeking help from you or an opportunity to work within your area. The opportunities that this could be parlayed into – whether a new job or a line of business (and quite hopefully mentoring opportunities for new community members) are a reasonable side benefit to project participation.

I had a conversation with a major contributor of a OSS project. This contributor has been involved in their community for many years and is a SME in a few areas of the project. So I posed the question of why weren’t they creating more of a public presence for themselves in blog posts, other social media, etc. – in effect promoting themselves as a brand?

Answer “Why should I run around promoting myself and my business as the (guy) person who’s developed those things?” 

Granted, everyone’s vision of what outcome their involvement in project is different, but if you’re looking to create opportunities for yourself and business by project participation, why would you ignore the opportunity to build an audience?

What do you think? Are you a brand?

After writing this and setting it down for a bit, I have some additional follow-up thoughts about this.

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