FOSS Clubs [2024-2025] Roadmap, Announcements

[FOSS Clubs - v2]

Attendees: @ansh @rahulporuri @wisharya

  • Vishal - Will write a Blog post on first batch of FOSS clubs (Feedback,
    experiences of leads)
  • The first cohort of FOSS Clubs started with 14 leads - 13 colleges
  • 3 did not work out (Mumbai (2) and Pune(1)) and the leads withdrew from the program within the first 3 months.
  • Partnered with 4 existing clubs - OSDC(Noida), Mukti (MSRIT,Bangalore) , KOSS (IIT KGP), Open Lake (IIT Bhilai)
  • Suggested Events - Linux Installation Party, Expert talks, Workshops
  • I (Ansh) was interested in joining FOSS United in some capacity. FOSS Clubs was a new upcoming project. Started as the FOSS Club coordinator in August - acting as a bridge between FOSS United and club leads.
  • Initial difficulties faced - Lot of inconsistencies with the colleges - bureaucracy (administration), bandwidth, leads were involved in too many activities.
  • These nuances will increase when the program is scaled.
  • Setting up a club is a time taking process which requires regular communication with the club lead, different requirements of different colleges which need to be brought into the existing framework
  • We need institutional energy/support to handle FOSS clubs. We were hoping to spend time providing such support but it hasn’t scaled as of now.
  • For the first cohort, we only picked leads who understood the philosophy of FOSS and what FOSS United does, with a preference for students who also had experience building communities.
  • We were able to identify various personas within the batch of leads selected. Some are exceptionally good at kickstarting, managing and scaling communities,
    evangelising FOSS while some have a very thorough understanding of FOSS and technical background.
  • It is important to identify these individual personas and tune our efforts accordingly to determine who needs what kind of support from our end.
  • Overall, the first cohort of the program was okay.

The FOSS Clubs backstory

  • Vishal met an alumni of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, who was contributor to VLC at a FOSS meetup in 2021. They mentioned about a program called AMFOSS.
  • The community has been doing activities as a FOSS club - scaled over the decade. Similar case at OSDC, Noida (also OSDG hyd).
  • The alumni network continues to support the communities which is a major reason of the success of these programs.
  • Another major reason of its success is the Assistant Professor behind the club. They had a decade of IT experience and an enthusiasm towards FOSS. This person started the program and was the anchor point of AMFOSS.
  • The next batch of club members is expected to have same set of values and motivation and uphold the quality of events.
  • Over the last few years they have been able to create a culture where people come and join a club and participate in FOSS related activities.
  • OSDC (noida) - alumni are very actively involved in mentoring the next batch.
  • The fundamental problem with student clubs is that students come and go. However, it’s the faculty in charge who is going to stay there for a long time. If this person understands our philosophy and is enthusiastic about the club, it can create a huge difference.
  • Rahul mentioned how he was active in one of the student clubs back in college because of supportive faculty who mentored them.
  • Our idea for the next cohort will be to find faculties who are ready to start things up and fundamentally aligned with our vision. Latch on to them and asking to be faculty mentors ensuring they are anchor points.
  • The faculty (along with the club leads/members) will be the anchor point of these individual communities, while FOSS United will help them with a nationwide network and resources.
  • We’ll try finding professors who have been doing ground work in this domain and support them to scale their efforts.
  • We will still need to make sure that the student leads understand our values and are just as passionate about the program.
  • More than events, organising regular catch-ups with hands on stuff is important. Students need to regularly sit down and hack together. We can not implement the city chapter (monthly meetups) approach with clubs.
  • The next cohort needs to be a bottoms up redesign of FOSS clubs.
  • The clubs’ program will have a rolling application and anyone can apply throughout the year. The first week of every month could be spent to review new applications.
  • For now, we will bring back the number of FOSS clubs back to 10, and start small.
  • Professors and students who are interesting in starting a club can reach out to the foundation.
  • We don’t have the energy and bandwidth to scale this program with the ongoing approach.
  • [Ansh] will draft a manifesto for the v2 of FOSS Clubs.
  • Building a hacker oriented community, not career oriented.
  • Long term goals will be convincing the university to adopt an elective/course around open source. FOSS United will provide necessary support here.
  • We will help club members get involved in national level FOSS United activities (IndiaFOSS and FOSSHack)
  • Try to pull club members and faculties to our events, as speakers.
  • The process will start from reaching out to professors we know - and get more contacts from them of people who might be interested.
  • The metrics of the success of a club would be contributions to projects, talks by members, building and maintaining FOSS projects and encouraging newbies to get into FOSS.

Action Items

[Ansh] Draft FOSS Clubs v2 Manifesto. Start conversations with potential club leads and faculty mentors for the next batch.