Ecosystem Alliance: Strategic collaboration to evolve faster

Name Ecosystem Alliance
Summary Strategic cooperation whereby different projects, groups or communities, while each operating independently, agree to collaborate and evolve an ecosystem collectively. They anticipate each other’s needs, align roadmaps, features, etc.
Keywords Ecosystem, Strategy, Partnership, Collaboration
Type Best-practice
FSDL position Ecosystem / Strategic alliance

This is a placeholder best-practice that came from a showerthought of @aschrijver and brought up in matrix chat.

“I was having a showerthought this morning… a commercial company wants to benefit from OSS, so they create an open core model. It is a bad model, for reasons that aren’t important here. I was thinking in a free software context, where people want earn a decent living, have a sustainable business, the equivalent could be a open ecosystem model. A strategic community-led partnership where all participants benefit.”

@Ryuno-Ki mentioned Business models for open-source software - Wikipedia but this does not describe such an alliance.

What sustainable business models the alliance participants choose is up to them. There can be rules for that though, such that everyone feels comfortable to collaborate (and coopetition is also an option). Like adhering to FOSS culture and shared values.

Ecosystem opportunities can be, among others:

  • Solution provider
  • Tool vendor
  • Implementation partner
  • Consultancy, training
  • Hosting provider

And participants can decide to:

  • Specialize ➞ Vertical supply chain
  • Diversify ➞ Explore new domains

Participants try to maximize the benefits of their collaboration:

  • “I build this feature first, so that ProjectX can align their work with it. I’ll later benefit from ProjectX’s feature FooBar.”
  • “I will encourage this UX designer to work on ProjectY so it gets more popular, and the ecosystem as a whole more attractive.”
  • “We will use the same communication tools, so it is as easy as possible for contributors to chime in where they want.”
  • “We will feature each other’s work and progress in advocacy, project marketing and PR.”


Taking another comment from chat:

With open ecosystem I was in particular thinking of the FSDL and how forge federation relates, whereby current projects can only deal with a tiny fraction of the visionary scope. But if they were in a strategic cooperation there might be a lot of synergy and speeding up of ecosystem evolution.

If you have 10 independent forge federation projects, they might choose the features they build on their own decision, rather randomly whatever individual projects prefer. But in a strategic setting they’d do it so it strengthens the next project and the next, etc.

They might all adjust their roadmaps to align in the best way possible to the other projects in the ecosystem.

This example aligns with discussions between @dachary and @aschrijver and an advocacy to Reposition ForgeFed to FSDL.

Related practices

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Idea: Fediverse Ecosystem Alliances Track (FEAT)

Copying from the Foundations chatroom:

After doing a ton of community work and advocacy for the Fediverse for the past couple of years, and making notes on some of the major challenges, I’ve come to see that part of strategy to leverage the full potential of the Fediverse is to encourage Ecosystem Alliances focused on evolving particular domains.

Rather than trying to build a single strong federated dev community, the effort of community work is best spent to setting up more specialized hubs where activities align to common goals.

The current major hub revolves around Microblogging++ kind of domain. While some of the concerns relating to ActivityPub transport protocol and related standards, as well as designing ActivityStreams vocabulary extensions are shared between all these hubs, many other considerations are unique to a particular field.

If bringing eg. apps related to Open Science to the Fediverse, then we cannot expect mature projects in the Microblogging space to be overly interested in all the ins and outs. Then it is best to organize a group of people and initiative that are dirrectly involved.

Open Science is an example where there’s a lot of interest. Another ‘hub’ where an Ecosystem Alliance would be very beneficial, and where a lot of work is already taking place, is Forge Federation.

Social Coding with FSDL has a natural fit within such alliance, but apart from that Social Coding Movement can provide guidance and best-practices for any type of alliance to be set up.

Building community for the Fediverse is like trying to “herd cats”.

By decentralizing the community organization this work becomes easier.

The idea: FEAT

The gist of this idea is to apply the Ecosystem Alliance-related best-practices to set up a track for any Fediverse interest group to organize themselves as a strong alliance, become part of Social Coding Movement and ensure that there’s also collaboration and cross-pollination between different alliances.

feat (fēt):

  1. An act or accomplishment of great courage, skill, or imagination; an achievement.
  2. A specialized skill; a knack.