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DNNCon Session: Everything I Need to Know about an Open Source Community, I learned in Kindergarten – Part 1

I had the great opportunity about a month ago to attend DNNCon in West Palm Beach.  And although I knew it before attending the conference, my understanding of our Community as being full of smart, inventive, dedicated, and passionate people was reaffirmed through the event.  As most DNN users would agree, the DNN Community is one of the greatest advantages of using DNN.

Comprised of administrators, developers, business owners, module and theme vendors, Partners, Platform users, Evoq customers, DNN employees, and more from across the globe, the Community is also a diverse and complex group, and within such a group, sometimes it’s important to go back to the basics – in my session at DNNCon, and in this blog, you aren’t going to learn any cool or unique tricks.  You won’t see a new product or technology, but hopefully you’ll think about where we have come from as a Community, where we are now, and where we are headed through some simple lessons most of us learned in Kindergarten.

I asked several questions throughout my presentation, and I’ll ask them here too.  And I want your honest feedback!  Reply in the comments below, or email me at  

Most of us remember Robert Fulghum’s “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” perhaps from a poster on a teacher’s wall in grade school, or maybe given as a high school graduation present.  In his book, Fulghum suggested that simple lessons most of us learn in early childhood are just as important when applied on a larger scale.

A few of these lessons I find particularly relevant to our Community, but before discussing them further, I think it’s important to think about what makes a Community strong.  Outside of DNN, what are some communities that you’ve felt a strong association with?  What made those communities so strong?  There are a few that stand out for me.

  1. Camp Hanover – I started attending summer camp when I was 7.  I only went for 3 days that first summer, but I was hooked. As I got older I stayed for a week, then 2, then a month, finally working at the camp each summer during college.  We didn’t have soda or cell phones at camp; “bug juice” was served at special meals, and handwritten letters were required to communicate with the “real world.”  And I doubt many who didn’t attend a session there could tell you what the Mudslide was (a set of 3 ditches/slides dug out of the hill next to the lake.  Lake water was carried to the top of the hill and poured down the slide, while campers sloshed down to meet in a mud pit at the bottom.  It was magical, and it was only something that we at Camp Hanover got to do.)
  2. Virginia Tech – I attended college at VT in the mountains of Blacksburg, Virginia.  From the time students step foot on campus for orientation, they are brought into a community of students, faculty, and alumni with a culture rich in its traditions.  Students not only gain the knowledge needed to complete their degrees, but they also learn to gobble, and to not only wear but love maroon and orange. They learn the best route to get across campus on a windy day and are taught the school’s history along with its football cheers.  Through all this, there is something that connects Hokies, whether they were on campus in 1960, or 2014.

There are a few reasons I tell you all this – 1) I believe that a sense of Community is only strengthened when it’s members get to know each other, so now you know a little more about me, and 2) the reasons these communities felt so strong to me then are the same things that make any Community strong - the things we need to continue to develop to ensure that the DNN Community remains one of its strongest assets.  Whether at camp, or at VT, or with any group I have remained committed and connected to, there are a few things community members have in common:  

  • Shared goals/beliefs
  • Shared experiences
  • A shared sense of enjoyment in those experiences  

I hope the following lessons, as simple as they may seem, are things our Community can share:


In what is probably the most famous line from his book, Fulghum advises, “Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.”  Yes, we are all like that – individuals, businesses, and even open source software.  

The DNN Platform, originally released as IBuySpy Workshop on December 24, 2002, has developed considerably, now on v. 7.4.4.  Here are a few significant events in our history:

  • February 2, 2003, A rebranded DotNetNuke is launched
  • September 6, 2006, DotNetNuke Corporation is founded
  • June 8, 2008, OpenForce Connect was held in Orlando 
  • June 13, 2009, First Day of DotNetNuke held in Tampa
  • August 2009, Partner Program Launched and SnowCovered acquired by DotNetNuke
  • March 9, 2010, DotNetNuke Professional Edition launched, and Sales and Support teams created.
  • March 19, 2013, DNN Social Launch
  • July 9, 2013, DotNetNuke rebrands to DNN

For more dates and events, take a look at our Project History.

Yes, DNN has grown and changed considerably in the last 12 years, but it is important to note, that many things have not changed.  For example, at that first Day of DotNetNuke in 2009, Joe Brinkman gave the keynote address, just like he did at DNNCon a month ago!

DNN Today
(*Please note: the data in the paragraph below was pulled on 11.6.2014.)

In the last 6 months, over 9,000 Community Members have been active on  In that time, we have created 9576 posts in the Community Forums and asked 750 questions in the Community Exchange (with a total of 2177 total posts in the Exchange – questions, answers, and comments).  With 446 Forge Projects and about 2500 products listed on the Store, there are many options to extend the functionality of DNN.  And users are taking advantage of these options!  There are over 2000 transactions on the DNN Store each month, and top Forge projects have hundreds of downloads/month (for example, 810 for DNN Blog, and 872 for DNN Events).  Although the average number of Community blogs/month is only 11.3 in the last 12 months, activity has recently increased, and the average over the last four months has nearly doubled, with 22.25 Community blogs/month.  

Unfortunately, not all numbers are as positive.  Only 54 ideas have been created through the Community Voice in the last 6 months.  We know there are many Community members out there with ideas on how to improve the DNN Platform, our website, and our Community; please share those ideas!

The DNN Platform and Community are our roots, and the plant that has grown includes DNN Corp and Evoq Solutions, our Partners, Store vendors, and the businesses, websites, and communities that have been built on DNN.  Whether a Platform user, Evoq Customer, Partner, Store Vendor, DNN Corp. employee, etc., we could not exist today without the Platform.  We are all important parts of the same organism – the plant cannot exist without the roots, and the roots are nothing without the plant.  As such, it is all our responsibilities to continue to enhance the Platform and grow the community.


In Kindergarten, sharing everything meant our toys, books, crayons, and even our snacks.  In an open source Community, the things we have to share are a little different:

  • We share our plans through the Roadmap.
  • The DNN Working groups help facilitate the sharing of work.
  • We share knowledge through the Community Forums and Community Exchange.
  • We share ideas and feedback through the Community Voice and through reviews on the DNN Store.
  • We share our expertise through the Community and Store Blogs.
  • We share our extensions through the DNN Store and DNN Forge.
  • We share DNN News through social media, blogs, emails, and here on
    • Follow us on Twitter.  @DNN is our Community account; @DNNCorp is the account for DNN Corp., and @DNNStore shares news about new products and reviews on the DNN Store.
    • Like us on Facebook.
    • Join DNN groups on LinkedIn
    • Subscribe and/or contribute to our blogs
    • Sign-up for emails from DNN. (You can update your subscriptions here.)
      • DNN News and Events
      • Weekly Store Newsletter
      • Monthly Community Newsletter

Share your feedback: How do you get your news from DNN, and how do you share your DNN news with others? Do you feel you are notified of DNN news and events in a timely manner?  Are there other ways you’d like to receive information from DNN?  

Part 2 of this blog will have information about 3 additional lessons: Live a Balanced Life.  When you go out in the world watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.  Warm Cookies and Milk are Good for You.


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