The DevRel Digest August 2023: Measuring Metrics and Maturity and Members of Community

The DevRel Digest
Published in
4 min readAug 26, 2023

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

This quotation has been attributed to both Albert Einstein and William Bruce Cameron. The less famous of the two is the author of Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking, in which he wrote:

It would be nice if all of the data which sociologists require could be enumerated because then we could run them through IBM machines and draw charts as the economists do. However, not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

Either way, as Richard Rodger points out on Twitter, this quotation is strongly applicable to Developer Relations. As many of us in the field are experiencing the elimination of our roles from organizations, the question of proving our business value has never been more relevant.

Everything is a Hero’s Journey

Okay, okay — I admit I am a little obsessed with the hero’s journey and I will be the first to admit that a lot of the significance and reverence we place on the hero’s journey is maybe kind of unwarranted and it is a framework that can be helpful when evaluating progress or maturity — and by extension — value.

I’m not quite sure I’d call Jordan Violet’s Developer Relations Capability Maturity Model a hero’s journey, but I do find some similarities between it and the Major Arcana in tarot (which is maybe also a flavor of hero’s journey). Violet proposes five levels of maturity where Level 1 is “characterized by disorganized efforts, individual dedication, and the budding potential of a formalized program” and Level 5 is when “the value of developer relations is understood and efforts can be quantified.” Similarly, in the Major Arcana, we start off as The Fool and end up as The World. Either end of the journey represents a state of growth.

The Fool and The World — either end of the journey represents a state of growth.

It will be interesting to see how this current layoff trend affects the growth of Developer Relations programs at different companies. Will it stunt growth? Or — as is sometimes the case in plant care — will it stimulate growth?

Tell Me You’re in DevRel Without Telling Me You’re in DevRel

How does the word “metrics” make you feel?

That’s what I thought!

The Cameron/Einstein quote begs the question, “Okay, so what do we count?” In order to determine a program’s maturity, we need some data, right? It can’t be all just vibes. This post from DevRelX cautions against relying too heavily on vanity metrics such as number of followers or number of clicks. In contrast to vanity metrics, the post recommends focusing on actionable metrics. In other words, metrics that “help you make informed decisions on what needs to stay the same or what tweaks need to be made.”

Of course, the next question then is: How do metrics relate to maturity? I wonder if someone has already thought about this. I’ll have to look into it and report back.

Don’t Neglect Community

But no matter which metrics you’re collecting and evaluating, if community isn’t part of your program, then you might be missing out on an invaluable resource. As Bryant D Nielson writes for DevRel Core, “In an interconnected digital world where collaboration reigns supreme, developer communities are flourishing as epicenters of innovation, growth, and sustainability.”

Of all the points the post makes about “harnessing the community,” this is the one that is most impactful to me: The “power of peer-to-peer troubleshooting.” This strikes me as the most deeply emblematic of the developer experience. When engineering is at its best, we are helping each other out of those brain ruts we all sometimes get stuck in. Whether it’s debugging code or debugging your brain, outside perspective is a catalyst for problem-solving.

More importantly, I feel like the ultimate goal of Developer Relations is nurturing champions of your solution. These are the developers who heard about your solution, tried it out, persevered through the challenges of onboarding and implementation, and can now go back to other users of your solution and help them out. These are the developers we advocate strongly for. As my friend and one-time co-worker Jorge Castro once said, “We want to help them become better developers as a whole.”

Speaking of community, I have been thinking about starting a co-working/support group for those of us in DevRel who are currently job hunting. If you are interested in participating, here’s a Google Form to fill out.

Events and Resources and Other Notable Things

  • DevRelCon is September 7th and 8th in London. I don’t think there’s a virtual option, which is kind of a bummer, but if you happen to be local to the event and have been recently laid off from a DevRel or community role, you might be able to snag a free ticket!
  • However, if you are not in London, check out the DevRel Meetup virtually on August 30th.
  • I stumbled upon David Neal on LinkedIn. David Neal is in DevRel and like most people in the field, I would say he’s quite a multipotentialite! He is offering illustrated headshot commissions and as soon as I find a picture of myself to draw from, I am going to get one!



The DevRel Digest

Relentless optimist | Artist turned software developer turned developer advocate