Open Source Community Awards, A Personal Perspective

I asked Giuseppe Maxia, formerly MySQL Community Team Lead and now Director of QA at Tungsten, to tell us more about his personal experience with community awards.

Giuseppe, you have been awarded twice as community contributor, in 2006 and in 2011. What’s the difference and what did you learn from 2006?

In 2006 I was a consultant, working mostly on open source products, of which MySQL was the most used one. I got the award then because I was contributing to spreading knowledge about the newest versions of MySQL, with blogging, bug reports, and talking at conferences. What happened between the first award and the second one? I was hired by MySQL (then the MySQL AB company) as a QA engineer first and community manager later on. Actually, MySQL hired all three people who were awarded that year. About 6 months ago, after passing through two acquisitions, I left the MySQL group, now under Oracle, and accepted a job at Continuent, Inc, as QA director. With this move, I went back to the origins, and I started doing the same things that I did before joining MySQL, namely blogging a lot, reporting bugs, and talking at conferences.
In this context, nothing has changed. While my work is different, in both cases my business depends on the flourishing of MySQL. By doing community work I am helping the MySQL ecosystem to grow, and from this growth my work, and ultimately the work of most of the people working in the same ecosystem, will benefit.

In addition to your award, also one of your company’s products was awarded as application of the year. Is this a coincidence?

It was a surprise for me and for other people in the company. We did not expected the award, although we have been working very hard to make Tungsten Replicator a product that the MySQL community could accept and adopt. I’d like to think that the two entities were looking for each other, and by lucky combination we ended up together. I entered Continuent when they had a mature product in need of a public shape, and I was an experienced community manager in search of a challenge. The credit for Tungsten Replicator success must go to the developers who have created such a robust tool. I am only the one who has suggested to focus on usability, and have beaten the drum to let everyone know about Tungsten progress.

What could you recommend to the ones who want to follow in your path? How can anyone get a personal award or make a product that gets recognized that way?

The recipe is not magic, but it is not universal either. To be a community contributor you need to have a certain degree of passion about what you do, and whatever you do (blogging, talking in public, bug reporting, participating in forums) you should do it because you can help others, rather than trying to gain some benefits for yourself. Granted, you need to take care of your business, but you must position your business in such a way that your public engagement is indirectly beneficial for you. In all community work there is a strong desire of helping others. If you lack such impulse, you should not even start.