This is the Judo blog of Lance Wicks. In this blog I cover mainly Judo and related topics. My Personal blog is over at where I cover more geeky topics. Please do leave comments on what you read or use the Contact Me form to send me an email with your thoughts and ideas.

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Open Source Development for Sport and Judo 

Last week I posted a job description for a Community Manager for Judo ( HERE ). It has been interesting to watch the statistics and read the emails that came as a result.

For those of you who didn't realize, the role does not (yet) exist, but it should.

communities already exist
Those of you who know me, or read the blog frequently will know that I believe strongly in open source and in community development. What people often do not realise is that I believe what works in IT also can work in Judo/sport. In fact the reasons it works for IT are the reasons it will work for sport and for our sport, Judo.

Open Source is a collaborative process where interested parties contribute to a project to create something greater than the sum of all the contributions. In the Judo world we see this all the time. A Gold Medal is the product not of one man or woman's efforts but of years and years of contributions from the people involved with that player.

In a wider view, the Judo and sports associations are again typically not the effort of one person, but of a group of like minded individuals.

I doubt many of you reading this are disagreeing with me so far, it is common sense; if we work together we achieve more than if we work independently or worse against each other.

So why do I so often see Judo (and sport) tearing itself apart?

The easy answer is "politics". Another common answer is "self-interest". But for me these are excuses not genuine reasons for the problems we encounter. In the world of Open Source it is the same, people have their own agendas and also politics has an effect. Yet Open Source is dominating the online world in ways that are quite staggering.

My desire is to see Judo be a leader and adopt the methods of successful open source projects and grow and excel in a similar manner.

For me this extends beyond methods but down to values and beliefs, the Judo world could do worse than to read the Open Source Initiative website (

For me, the magic of open source happens when people with different objectives and needs meet and help one another. For example a developer is nothing without users and vice versa. In Judo coaches are nothing without players to coach. NGBs are nothing without members.

One of the key components of open source communities is the efforts taken by those involved to meet the needs of the other parties involved in the project. I love the inclusive nature of open source. If you are a programmer, then you can contribute there. If you are a user you can test and give feedback. You might contribute a logo, or some documentation, or simply encourage people. People find niches for other people and for themselves that help grow the community and the projects.

Often this happens naturally, people with a shared interest and understanding of the open source values will start working well together. But often and increasingly ina formal roles, a person will help guide people to their place in the community and help them contribute positively.

This is the community manager role, and it is the role I would like to see Judo and other sport start considering and hiring people to do.

Within Judo it is needed urgently I think. I watch the Judo community here in the UK, in the US and world wide and the opportunities for us are amazing. Yet they are being missed as people are working in isolation or often against each other (either by choice or simply because they don't realise they are in conflict).

Here in the UK I probably have the best vantage point, and I would challenge the Board of Directors and management of the BJA to consider seriously the idea of hiring a community manager. That said, I think the EJU and IJF have a great need for this sort of role also.

For me the community manager role in Judo is vital for our survival and growth. I talk Judo with people everyday and everyone is working hard on great projects. The BJA itself is pursuing a vast number of great projects and (despite what some may believe, or believe I believe) they are trying to make the Judo world a better place.

What they are doing very badly is engaging with their community. They are failing to appear to be transparent and the servants to the members and the member clubs. The communities faith in the BJA is stretched to breaking point and now is coming when the community will have had enough.

It is not because the BJA are "evil", it is not because they are doing the wrong things. IMHO it is because they are failing to be participating members in the community they are the governing body for.

I feel that one salary (out of the almost 80 paid employees) should be to engage with the Judo community and act as a hub between the BJA and the Judo community. This person (and yes I am angling for the job!) would be an advocate for the members and member clubs, a voice inside the BJA from the membership. They would also be an ambassador for the association communicating what is happening to the members and making sure that the right people on both sides of the fence are aware of and working with one another.

The Judo Community Manager needs to be someone the community will trust despite their being paid by the BJA. They need to believe that this person will not just "tow the company line" but will genuinely work to express their views at HQ.
Equally, the BJA needs someone who will work with the community to ensure that the community understands what the hard working staff of the BJA are doing and help them understand why things can't always be the way they want.

I have posted in my previous post a job description, I hope someone in the BJA looks at this post and that one and considers it seriously.

The open source methodology and the community development model is now well established in the IT world. Some of the largest and most successful businesses in the world rely on the methods and result of open source development.

Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun, Facebook and virtually any business you care to mention either are users of or are contributing to the code for open source projects. This includes the BJA itself, their website is written in a Open Source language. Their email newsletter delivered via open source mail servers. Their computers all have open source software in there.

The sport itself is open source, nobody owns Taio Toshi. We pay no royalties to the Kodokan to use Judo or to share it or to change it. The BJA/EJU/IJF etc have been collaborative communities from their inception, Judo is open source and can grow by borrowing even more from the open source software community.

The first step they need to take is that of hiring a community manager to help ensure that everyone in British Judo finds their place and their way of contributing to the sport that we all love.

Come on Loughborough, give me a call... I can start on Monday.


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