Software projects as "Community Digital Gardens"

In the recent Forgefriends webinar Cory Slep of Go-Fed and speaker at the webinar referred to working on the project as ‘gardening’ instead of ‘maintaining’. Nick Sellen, another speaker, chimed in to say that he’d adopt the term for his project Karott (where the fit is even more perfect). Gardening is a very appealing term, and allows a different perspective on the software development. “Maintenance” implies the project is more or less done and just needs to be upheld. But in reality it continues to evolve in all kinds of ways.

For a side-project of mine, innercircles, I already bumped into “Communty Digital Garden” as a concept to explore, and I made some notes that I will copy below.

I would like to explore the concept further and see if it can be turned into a nice ‘recipe’ to be included in the Social Coding practitioners guide.

Community Digital Gardening

(The nice thing is that the idea of an ‘organic garden’ as analogy also fits with evolution and growth as applied to innercircles)

Building a Community Digital Garden

Quoting from the article:

What is a Community Digital Garden?

Wikipedia: A community garden is a single piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people.

Joel Hooks: The phrase “digital garden” is a metaphor for thinking about writing and creating that focuses less on the resulting “showpiece” and more on the process, care, and craft it takes to get there. A garden is usually a place where things grow.

When you build a community digital garden you are building a mini searchable powerhouse for your niche and you can become the first place that people go to search for information.

Howto maintain a community digital garden?

When I think about what is needed to maintain a community digital garden, I think of these things:

  • the need for curation: the world moves fast, there needs to be a way to constantly stay on top of what is happening in your industry
  • the need for expertise: we need to be constantly tapping into people and their knowledge
  • the need for a process: just like a business, a community digital garden will die a death if there isn’t some kind of process to keep it in place.
  • and of course, the need to build community around all of these things

@mariha at SocialHub provided a great add-on to the analogy of gardening:

I strongly prefer English gardens style to French one, might be a good inspiration/metaphor/parallel for open source projects maintenance too…

When I did a DDG search on “garden english vs french style” to demonstrate I found this spot-on infographic: - What is your collaboration style? French Garden or English Garden?


Lol, very accurate!

(also I have nothing against French gardens, just a personal preference for aesthetics)


Note: This topic has moved to the new Social Coding forum at: