How Rasa Supercharged their Contributor Program using Orbit

Customer Stories
How Rasa Supercharged their Contributor Program using Orbit
Welcome to The Observatory, the community newsletter from Orbit.

I'm Rosie, and I'll be your guide for this mission. Each week I'll go down rabbit holes so you don't have to. I'm here to share tactics, trends and valuable resources I've observed in the world of community building.
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About Rasa

Rasa is an open-source conversational AI platform used to build virtual assistants and chatbots. They have an established contributor program with a Discourse support forum and contributor Slack. They manage a community-run events program, receive documentation, blog posts, and code contributions via GitHub, and highlight top contributors through their Rasa Contributor Program.

The Problem

Rasa has been community-led from day one. "Community is at the center of everything we do," says Emma Wightman, Developer Community Manager at Rasa. "We're focused on developers, and their contributions and feedback all help improve the quality of our product."

Artificial intelligence requires specialist knowledge, but despite this, Rasa’s developer community is growing very fast - by 2020, Rasa Open Source reached 10 million downloads. "Rasa is super customizable, so it covers a ton of use-cases," says Emma. "Integrations are a critical piece for us. We couldn't conceivably integrate with everything by ourselves. The community plays a big part in helping to create and maintain those integrations, as well as other resources that combine to produce an ecosystem around the platform".

While this growth has led to lots of value for the community, it can be challenging to scale meaningful interactions as their community expands for Rasa. "Community work can be very manual," says Emma. "Some of that's deliberate—I want my outreach to be personal and not some stock message we send out. But with other parts, it's just busywork that takes up a huge portion of my time, like hunting down contributor contact details and finding content.”

The Solution

So with their community flourishing, Rasa began using Orbit in March 2020 to help them with  "recognizing member achievements, tracking activities, and automating day-to-day community management tasks. Orbit speeds all this up, saving me many hours per week. When I want to do pretty much anything where I'm trying to write something personalized, like a hero announcement, I first go to Orbit so I can see who they are and what they've done".

A Single View of Community

This consolidated view of a member is achieved by connecting the various channels Rasa’s community is active on with Orbit. From there, membership data is enriched, and activity data is brought together. "Orbit not only allows us to monitor and interact with community members as individuals but also react to community-wide milestones," says Emma.

"It's helpful to be able to see a member's full activity. So I can see when their first PR has been merged so that I can acknowledge and recognize that almost immediately. Speedy recognition is imperative for building our community - it's the most important thing I do. Orbit helps me do that in a faster, better way. I don't have to cross-check databases to see who has made the contributions. It's now much cleaner and more straightforward" than it was before. 

"We now know whether someone in the contributor program has also joined our Slack, for example. That's even more insightful than Slack's own analytics, as they don't have that unified view. We also use Orbit to gain insights into contributor onboarding, which we couldn't do before".

Improving Programs with Community Data

By leveraging data integration and automation, Orbit has helped give Rasa insight into their membership. "Our contributor program has three tiers of members: contributors, heroes, and superheroes. Through analysis in Orbit using Orbit levels, we noticed we lacked contributors at the hero level. We had plenty of contributors, so we knew we needed to focus more on that middle tier by helping them level up. So part of our strategy was to figure out what heroes most liked to do, whether it's making videos, writing tutorials, or coding, and we created an engagement initiative for contributors based around that".

To refine that process, Rasa uses the member tagging facility within Orbit. "Tag reporting is critical to us. We tag users in Orbit with their contributor status. This enables us to filter reports by those levels, so we can see how our activities are impacting them." 

Enabling Cross-team Collaboration

"We share Orbit data in our communication with other teams too. We do a community deep-dive at our all-hands with the entire company. We flag new insights, go into Orbit reports, and show high-level growth changes and where folks are most engaged. We also highlight individual contributors and talk about who they are and what they're all about. We publish a report each week, showing new heroes and superheroes in a Slack channel for marketing, product, engineering as well as leadership to see."

"Orbit's Chrome extension for GitHub helps out these other teams. They can access Orbit data when they need it, so product, for example, can see a contributor’s tags, their hero status, and use that understanding for context on a contribution so they can potentially tailor their responses accordingly.

The Result

"Orbit is helping us hit our goals of increasing hero engagement and activity over the year, as well as retention of users. It helps us to make good projections that inform our strategy. We're investing in community and Orbit long-term. We've integrated our community data, and we’re creating better quality data by adding supplementary information from our interactions, like notes and content. In the long run, this helps make our work so much faster and our outreach better. By improving the quality of data, Orbit is more powerful now and in the future."

"What makes such a difference for me, too, is that the Orbit team are great. They're proactive in responding to product feedback and listening to their community. Orbit is aligned with our mission and goals - we see so much potential for greater use of it in the future."

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