DevSummit07:Making Social Source Commons relevant to Nonprofit Developers

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Facilitated by Allen Gunn and Tim Wescott, Aspiration

The Social Source Commons platform (SSC) has been developed with the ultimate goal creating a "knowledge commons" that maps the NPO/NGO software space and makes sense of the collective expertise related to all that software.

SSC aims to provide those who need information on NPO/NGO software access to lists of what's available, with each list item linked to relevant documentation, localization tools, services and events, user reviews and a place to request the tools and features they can't find. It is envisioned to catalyze a network of shared resources and contributors rather than simply building a single comprehensive web site or database, connecting the rich but relatively unlinked array of NPO/NGO-focused software information resources that already exist and building upon it.

The current version of the platform focuses primarily on empowering eRiders and others doing technology support and integration to know "what's out there" and "what the options are" for given categories of tools and applications. But a longer term goal of the project is build better bridges between developers and user communities, and to provide software developers with information on how to apply their skills to nonprofit software needs.

gunner and Tim will open the floor for discussion on how SSC can be enhanced to provide nonprofit developers with unique value relevant to their work.

Session notes

Story of SSC

  • Got 250 grand from OSI to do a "SourceForge" for Non-profit sector
  • Convinced them that sucked
  • In 2005 idea spawned that it would use the Flickr model
  • And uses a metadata schema called DOAP that gives software tools a unique identifier

Big holes

  • Big hole number 1 - Collaboration layers
  • Big hole number 2 - Making the software more useful for developers
  • Need the hard-to-find vertical tools in there

Long term vision

  • Got an agreement in principle to share data with TechSoup and IdealWare
  • Creating a knowledge prism

Demo of SSC

  • Goes through front page
  • Profile
    • Tools you've added
    • Recent activities
    • Tools that people in your network have added
  • Tool (Firefox)
  • Collaborative filtering (People who use this tool also uses)

Long term visions

  • Map what's out there for people
  • But really help people connect with developers
  • Show equivalents between open source and proprietary software
  • Be an aggregator of all this rich data -- not a content provider


  • Having a place where support can aggregate and glom onto is really important
  • How do you keep desktop software from dominating?
  • There is an existential dilemma between services and tools? What is a tool?
  • Having a list of these things (ie hosting) would be extremely helpful, but not good if it cluttered the dataspace
  • Quality issue is unsolved, but want to steal the digg model of ups and downs.
  • Do chronological list, and put an event for the version
  • Allow people to link tools together as a single tool
  • Maintain a wishlist of things you'd like people to help you out with (interface designer, just feeback, etc) -- a LinkedIn question model
  • Flagging sponsoring organization (advocacy, etc)
  • Flag via language
  • Flag via number of contacts
  • Show me orgs like me
  • Show me what they are using
  • Role-based toolboxes in terms of home, work, etc
  • Is there a marketplace for developers that can work

For developers

  • What's working currently?
  • What is the value proposition for developers
  • Idea: Maintain a wishlist of things you'd like people to help you out with (interface designer)
  • Idea: Donation-ware -- fundraising opportunities
  • Why do you want developers there?
  • Glaring need for warm-body support
  • TechFinder isn't doing well, how can we be a USABLE TechFinder?
  • Model for bringing in developers
  • Is there a place where you can list developers? (Gunner: Don't want to create a developer user type because of blurs, such as eRiders)
  • Is there a place for higher-level discussions between users and developers?
  • Developers: how findable do you want to be?


  • Is there a place where developers can find human resources?
    • Tool specific forums (Drupal paid)
    • Craigslist
  • What are motivations that reach developers?
    • Passion, "my code made a difference"
    • Recognition
    • Compitency -- more skills, get a better job, personal growth
    • Neil -- not interested in getting feature requests
    • Neil -- would find data useful in AGGREGATE
    • Trading development time for usability and documentation
    • A way to stop developers from making bad Drupal sites would be great


  • You don't want developers, you want supporters
  • Willingness to help developers


  • Certification services
  • Reputation marketplace for developers
  • Service to funders as an oversight organization
    • How to scale would be to create a good system for recruiting account managers
  • Build out a portfolio of projects that need funding -- a social venture approach