5 qualities of great open source developer advocates

5 qualities of great open source developer advocates

The developer relations job category is less than 10 years old, and the developer advocate role is even newer. In essence, developer advocates represent the voice of the user—in this case, that's usually the developer—internally to the company and the voice of the company externally to the community.

The developer relations job category is less than 10 years old, and the developer advocate role is even newer. In essence, developer advocates represent the voice of the user—in this case, that's usually the developer—internally to the company and the voice of the company externally to the community.

Mattermost depends on its developer advocates to be the bridge between the community and the organization. At Mattermost, a developer advocate's three primary areas of responsibility are:

  • Raising awareness among developers about the open source project, including educating users and helping them get the most out of the platform
  • Building strong relationships with users across open source and developer communities
  • Advocating for users internally with the product team by sharing the community's feedback and challenges

Not everyone is cut out to succeed as an open source developer advocate. With that in mind, here are the top five qualities we've identified in outstanding developer advocates.

1. A genuine passion for helping others

Developer advocates often start as developers or in other highly technical roles. They excel at their job but get less pleasure from creating solutions than they do by helping others do the same.

Over time, they turn this enthusiasm into enabling and empowering other developers to be successful. They naturally evolve into developer advocates by educating and helping users get the most out of the platforms they're working with.

Passion is one of the most important qualities of a developer advocate. To advocate for the user both internally and externally, they must put the user and the community first. This does not happen without genuine motivation to help others succeed.

2. An authentic communication style

An outstanding developer advocate has a passion for writing and talking about technology—whether they're solving technical challenges, providing knowledge about specific frameworks (e.g., Kubernetes), or sharing solutions built on top of a platform.

But when they share their knowledge, they must be careful not to be perceived as promoting a specific platform or product. If any group is turned off by inauthentic marketing, it is developers. Developer relations is not the same as developer marketing. That is why authenticity is critical when connecting with developer communities—particularly in open source.

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