November 13, 2017
The Monero Project differs from many, if not most, projects in the cryptospace by being, at its core, a grassroots community project. Some cryptocurrency enthusiasts may be surprised to know that open source does not inherently mean community-driven. One has only to look at several major coins to see many have official foundations (many times corporations) behind them that guide the development process, with the weight given to community input varying from project to project. These foundations generally comprise of departments, such as developers, marketers, stakeholders, PR representatives, and more, with the amount of external contribution (i.e that doesn't come from one of the foundation's internal departments), once again, varying depending on the project in question.
As with most things in life, there are pros and cons to the aforementioned approach, with one of the greater strengths being everyone (generally) knows who's in charge of what, leading to ease of communication, and clarity for newcomers on where to direct questions or contributions of their own. A disadvantage to this method is it is a form of centralization, with the question of whether or not the project would survive should the foundation shut down for any reason.
The Monero Project has chosen a different approach to contribution, namely making all of it 'external'. While there is a Core Team in place, they are, at best, an informally affiliated group who have proven to have Monero's best interests in mind, and view their role as 'stewards' rather than CEOs or managers. This approach is powerful, in that it leads to minimal centralization, while still enabling the community to have a trusted group that can set a philosophy and direction for Monero, as well as, on a practical level, facilitate project critical transactions (Forum Funding System or FFS), mediate disputes, merge code, and be trusted with funds to be used on Project matters (the general donation fund).
One of the drawbacks of such an approach however, is that if the Core Team is not directly responsible for development, marketing, and support, then who is? The answer is: you!
The Monero community is in complete control of all forms of contribution. Nobody is anybody's boss, and, with the exception of individuals funded by the FFS, nobody reports to anyone. This can, at times, be frustrating to the community as an individual might want to see some work done, but nobody is doing it, and it seems there is nobody to talk to about getting it done. The beauty of this system however, is that nobody needs to be talked to to get it done. The same individual that would like to see an area of Monero improved can take the initiative to see their idea to completion by doing it themselves, either alone or with a group.
A Monero workgroup is defined as any small group of contributors that work together to see an idea (beneficial to Monero in some fashion) become reality. Workgroups can vary wildly in members, governance structure, ideals and goals, and marketing. The Monero Economy Workgroup (MEW) was one such workgroup that existed in the past, with a very formalized structure, including dues, elections, and more (this workgroup ultimately disbanded). Read the BitcoinTalk thread for more information about what their stated goals were, and how they wanted to accomplish them. Some workgroups may choose to take a more informal approach, with fluidity in membership and utilizing donations instead of dues.
While the name 'Monero Workgroups' may be fairly new, the idea has been in practice for some time. A non-comprehensive list of existing workgroups as of this writing are: Kovri, Monerujo, Translation, the Monero Meetup Kit and Community. Each of the aforementioned workgroups has its own structure, preferred meeting places, subculture, and more.
In order to facilitate the organic creation and growth of workgroups, the Core Team saw fit to invest in resources that will be freely available to any aspiring contributor or workgroup, so as to make the transition from idea to finished contribution as smooth as possible.
Taiga is an open-source, self-hosted project management platform with an emphasis on agile development. It can be used to organize teams, solve issues, set User Stories, track progress, and host files. It utilizes such Agile tools as Kanban boards, Scrum, and Epics.
Taiga is meant to be the non-developers alternative to Github (although it can be useful for software development too), by providing a common environment with an easy-to-use interface where workgroups can track productivity.
Mattermost is an open-source, self-hosted Slack alternative. While Monero has a Slack (with relays into IRC), many in the community voiced that it was not in the spirit of Monero to so heavily utilize a proprietary software wherein you don't control the data. For this reason, a Mattermost instance was launched, with the same relays into IRC channels (more actually), as well as integration with Monero's Taiga instance (updates to User Stories are sent via a bot to a specified channel).
The Taiga and Mattermost instances have been deployed for a couple months now (big round of applause to
pigeons for deploying everything), but have been kept in a sort of 'beta period' where things could be fine-tuned, integrated, and fixed should the need arise (another big round of applause to
pigeons for his integrations and fixes). But this didn't stop one brave workgroup from being the beta testers.
The Monerujo team has their own Taiga project as well as several private Mattermost channels where they conduct weekly meetings, share files, and, many times, just have fun!
You (yes, you!) are invited to do the same. Brainstorm, envision what you want Monero to be, make a project, turn your ideas into reality, and have fun! Monero depends on you.