Long, long ago, back in the before-time (as time is reckoned on the internet), there was an IRC channel inhabited by the likes of Ringmaster, Jesuit, Skippy, DrBacchus and many others who enjoyed contributing to the community, writing code, and chatting. Over time, the atmosphere in that channel, as well as the attitude of the powers-that-be towards “non-official” help channels (and towards the members of the community in general) came to make the contributions of those people less enjoyable.
Then, in 2006 (I believe we were still using punch cards back then.) at the Ohio Linux Fest, 3 bearded men and Skippy had a fateful lunch. The Pope was there. (Well, a pope.) (Well, a bust of a pope.) The result of that fateful lunch was.... a fateful dinner. The result of that fateful dinner... (in the words of Owen Winkler) “The new secret project for which there are already 5 lines of code, which, by the way, I don't think should be implemented that way, Chris.”
The secret project became Habari.
The discussion at that dinner revolved around not only creating a new project, but creating a community. “I don’t want to fork the community, not the code.” said one of the bearded fellows. “What would a community that’s default position was one of transparency and inclusion look like?” they asked themselves. (We’d like to think the answer to the question is found right here.) As you can imagine they were all very impressed and thought it was worth pursuing. And pursue it they did.
Since that dinner, Habari has grown from 4 people and 5 lines of code to hundreds of contributors (beards are still entirely optional), almost 30 Project Management Committee members and 50,000 lines of code plus plugins, themes and translations. Although, there are probably still 5 lines that could be better implemented.
In 2009, there was discussion of joining the Apache Software Foundation as an incubator project. It was one of the most significant discussions in our community. Although, in the end the community chose not to follow that path, the tone set by the discussion served as a test of our community model and showed that we could make these decisions in a way that was respectful and stayed true to our open style of community participation.
Also in 2009, we had the first international Habari Party. Representatives of the Habari Community from as far away as Australia braved South American muggers to meet in Columbus, Ohio to discuss the future of Habari and meet face-to-face with other Habarians. There were also snacks.
Today, Habari still thrives on personal connections, poorly kept secrets, friendly disagreement and people who are passionate about community. IRC is still a primary method of collaboration and we still fundamentally believe that the people who make up our community are far more important than code.