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The CiviCRM Community

Like many open source projects, CiviCRM is shaped, guided, and driven by its community, a far-flung ecosystem of users, developers, and implementers who utilize CiviCRM in many different ways and bring to it a wide array of skills, experiences, and perspectives. These varied and diverse offerings are crucial to the continued success of CiviCRM, but they can move the project forward only if they find their way back into the public stream of discussion and collaboration. This chapter is a guide to finding and engaging in the community of people who are working together to make CiviCRM what it is and what it will become.

Finding the Community Online

As might be expected of a web-based software project, much of the CiviCRM community's activity occurs online. This means that if you have access to the Internet you also have access to and can participate in the CiviCRM community regardless of where you live or work. English is the predominant language for discussion and contributions.

The CiviCRM website itself is a good starting point for exploring and participating in the community. In addition to general information about getting and using CiviCRM, you'll find blog posts from community members, announcements about upcoming events, and a Get Involved section that lists and links to many of the resources described below.

The CiviCRM Stack Exchange site is specifically designed for asking and answering questions about CiviCRM. This is now the primary site for getting answers to questions on installing, upgrading, configuring, using and customizing CiviCRM. It is a great place to find answers to the millions of questions that have already been asked about CiviCRM, and to ask ones that haven't been asked already.

Mattermost offers live discussion in chat rooms and direct messages. It's a great place to go for any technical questions. Here, with a bit of luck, you'll often find an instant answer to your question or a pointer in the right direction.

The CiviCRM Forums are a location for language and locality based CiviCRM discussion and support.

You'll hopefully find that both Stack Exchange and Mattermost are great sources for help, support, and good ideas. That's all attributable to the good will and generous efforts of people like you! Everyone who visits these sites is encouraged to give back to the community by responding to questions and requests for help and contributing their own ideas and feedback to the conversations. And simply asking your own questions is also a significant contribution to the community. It's likely that someone else is having the same problems or wondering the same thing, and the responses you solicit help build the community's knowledge base.

The CiviCRM blog is another good source of information and discussion. Blog posts are written by both the CiviCRM core team and other community members and cover a wide range of topics, including general news and announcements, upcoming events and accounts of events that have occurred, case studies, use cases and ways to get things done with CiviCRM, and new features and development. Comments are encouraged and can create lively discussions that can in turn direct future CiviCRM development. If you've got something that you'd like to post on the blog, we encourage you to write to info@civicrm.org with your ideas and your request to post.

Much discussion of CiviCRM also occurs outside of these official channels. Using your favorite engine to search for CiviCRM will turn up many articles and posts from other folks' websites and blogs. The CiviCRM team is good at keeping an eye out for these posts and often publicize them through Twitter. To keep abreast of the stream of comments, follow @civicrm and find CiviCRM tweets and tag your own tweets with the #civicrm hashtag.

Finding the Community Offline

Though the online community is both accessible and active, participating in the CiviCRM community offline can be even more rewarding and can help you connect with others in your area who are developing, implementing, and using CiviCRM.

Many cities and regions hold CiviCRM meetups where people gather to learn about CiviCRM, share new ideas, developments, and use cases, and meet other folks involved with the community. CiviCRM also conducts user and developer training in cities around the world. Stay abreast of local events, whether meetups, trainings, or sprints here.

There are also more formal gatherings for CiviCRM users and developers. CiviCRM held the first CiviCon conference in April 2010 in San Francisco. CiviCon brings together prospective and current end-users, administrators and developers of CiviCRM for content-rich discussions, lectures and networking. The number of CiviCons hosted around the world each year is growing.

CiviCamps are one-day, action packed meetups where you can learn about CiviCRM, connect with other users, ask questions, share tips, and more. See if there are any upcoming CiviCamps near you.

CiviCRM core developers and community members also make appearances at other conferences, including DrupalCon, the NonProfit Technology Conference, Joomla! events, and Aspiration Tech events.

Open Source = Community Sourced

Here are some additional ways that you can participate in and contribute to the CiviCRM community.

  • Contribute to CiviCRM documentation. This book was written by community members; you can contribute to it by following the instructions here.
  • Contribute content to CiviCRM's website. You can share use cases and case studies that describe how your organization uses CiviCRM and the solutions and processes you've developed around the software. See existing case studies here. You can also share your successes, experiences at Civi-related events, interesting customizations, etc. on the CiviCRM blog. You can add content by becoming a member or emailing info@civicrm.org with a request to post.
  • Share your training resources and materials with the rest of the community through posts on the CiviCRM blog or on your own sites.
  • Register your organization on CiviCRM's website. This will add your site to a publicly searchable directory and map of CiviCRM installations, supporting CiviCRM's marketing efforts.
  • Contribute code you've written to extend CiviCRM, because it's likely that someone else out there needs the same functionality. Check out the recommended steps for developing and contributing to the CiviCRM how you can help contribute to the core codebase in the Developer Guide. If you've developed a Drupal module, you should contribute it to Drupal.org; see their site for more information on contributing modules. Joomla! extensions can be posted here.
  • Sponsor development of new features. If your organization needs certain features or functionality that doesn't yet exist for CiviCRM and can't develop those features in-house, you can sponsor their development by outside coders and developers. This can be a solo effort on the part of one organization or a coordinated effort sponsored by multiple organizations in need of the same set of functionality. Find out more on CiviCRM's website or write to info@civicrm.org for more information on sponsoring development.
  • Report any bugs that you find in CiviCRM. See the Bug Reporting chapter of this book for more information.