Jono Bacon‘s book The Art of Community makes a very interesting reading despite the misleading title. I manage a few online communities and I was interested in learning from an experienced professional (Jono) on how to improve my communities and my management style. The title of the book, as well many of the reviews I read, were very promising. Only after reading a few dozen pages I recognized that this was not the book I was expecting. “The Art of community” is not about all online communities, it’s only about specific online communities for open-source software. Great topic, if your community is about developing some piece of software in an open-source context, but not very useful if your community is a group of people sharing a common interest but not working together toward a common goal. Jono tries to generalize his experience for a wider audience presenting a few non-open-source cases and examples. But it’s evident he has neither experience to support such generalization nor a real interest in adventuring outside the familiar open-source territory.
If your community is an open-source community, get the book and religiously read every single word of it. If your community is about cars, movies, commercial software, or something else save your time and your money.