Why FLOSS projects may gain from Community Managers

A discussion on identi.ca started by Bradley Kuhn when he said

I am becoming increasingly convinced that if your #FLOSS project needs a “Community Manager” or similar position, it’s in trouble.

The conversation that followed on identi.ca  doesn’t seem to consider two things: FLOSS projects are often the effort of for-profit (or simply revenue seeking, as you prefer) organizations and that there is lots of interesting projects out there. Putting aside the objectives to raise funds, the competition between FLOSS projects is what’s interesting most. As a community manager I have learned that projects compete for attention of contributing developers. Attention is rare and to find it is a full time job.

A good community manager focuses on getting the attention from developers, so they chose to contribute to your project instead of going to another one. While others in the organization can focus on developing software, finding sources of revenue, assuring quality and the rest of the stuff, the community manager must focus on grabbing attention.

I think that when FLOSS projects outgrow the basement where they start they need somebody inside the group that can look outside, to users and contributors.