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Marketing Your Open Source Project

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Linux Open Source Summit session http://sched.co/BCtS

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Marketing Your Open Source Project

  1. 1. Marketing Your Open Source Project Deirdré Straughan
  2. 2. About Me Bio • 30 years in tech: documentation, customer support, community, open source, books, articles, blogs, videos, and, yes, marketing. • Lots more about me – mostly not tech – at beginningwithi.com, @deirdres Disclaimer
  3. 3. What you’ll learn in this talk • What is marketing (for open source) • Why you need it • How to do it
  4. 4. “If you build it, they will come.”
  5. 5. Just “building it” is rarely enough.
  6. 6. A Tale of Tracers
  7. 7. DTrace
  8. 8. ftrace • A general-purpose tracer written by Steven Rostedt. • Integrated directly into the Linux kernel since 2008. • Great technology, great code, great documentation. • Critically important: it was in mainline Linux. • But, by 2014, practically no one had heard of it and no one used it.
  9. 9. (screenshot ftrace repo)
  10. 10. Sysdig
  11. 11. BPF/bcc • Based on Berkeley Packet Filter (1992). • PLUMgrid extended BPF (eBPF) to do software- defined networking, and added tracing features. • PLUMgrid is no more, but eBPF is in Linux. • Provides programmatic capabilities necessary for an advanced tracer. • bcc: a front end for BPF.
  12. 12. Moral of the Story • Four tracers: All good, two well known, two not. • The difference is marketing.
  13. 13. What is marketing? “The process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.” Merriam-Webster
  14. 14. “Why does my open source project need marketing?”
  15. 15. What does it mean to market open source? You’re not selling “stuff.” You’re selling ideas. You’re asking people to dedicate something valuable – their time and attention – to your ideas.
  16. 16. Why is this difficult?
  17. 17. The open source world
  18. 18. How did YOU choose which projects to work on?
  19. 19. How many great projects did you miss because you never heard of them?
  20. 20. In open source, marketing is about capturing attention and resources in a crowded environment.
  21. 21. What resources do projects need? The time and effort of people: • Users • Contributors: independent, and/or assigned to a project by their employer (or hired specifically to work on it).
  22. 22. What resources do projects need? Money: • Sponsorships, salaries, bounties, investment, donations – whatever will allow people to keep working on it.
  23. 23. Nevertheless…
  24. 24. In open source, marketing often fails to happen. Why?
  25. 25. Some reasons marketing doesn’t happen “Eww, marketing.”
  26. 26. Some reasons marketing doesn’t happen Marketing is considered a “soft” skill.
  27. 27. Some reasons marketing doesn’t happen For a project in its early stages or without financial backing, “we can’t afford it.”
  28. 28. Some reasons marketing doesn’t happen No one working on the project knows how to do marketing.
  29. 29. Marketing is not evil.
  30. 30. Good marketing does not happen by accident.
  31. 31. The Tools of Open Source Marketing
  32. 32. Code • The basic code – Architected for participation – Well-commented • Tools • Tests • Examples and sample code
  33. 33. Documentation • Good documentation is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL. • It can also be very hard to achieve.
  34. 34. Non-Code Content • How to’s, blueprints, architectures, and other technical material • Blog • Videos & Screencasts • Articles and Press (trade press, scholarly journals, refereed conferences) • Books • Education • Logo/mascot
  35. 35. How-To’s, Blueprints, Architectures, etc. • Good documentation explains what you can do with the software: commands, parameters, how to interpret output. • This is necessary, but not sufficient. • Other kinds of technical content are needed explain how and why to use it.
  36. 36. A note about white papers • Have an even worse rep than marketing in general. • Nowadays tend to be aimed at C-level execs. • …which may be relevant to your project, especially if you are going after an enterprise market.
  37. 37. Blog • Yes, have one! • News and technical posts are both appropriate. • There is no canonical length. • If you’re not a great writer (that’s ok, most people aren’t), get help.
  38. 38. • Videos of people (talking). • Screencasts. • Not “slick” may be more appropriate. • YouTube is your friend. • Attention spans are short. • Subtitles/captions. Video and Screencasts
  39. 39. Articles and Press Refereed journals: • Communications of the ACM • USENIX ;login: Trade press: • Get PR help with this. Getting press coverage is an art, not a science. • Yes, PR does still matter.
  40. 40. Books • Great marketing tool. • Possibly a great career move. • Tons of work. • Never write a book for the money!
  41. 41. Education • Tutorials • Workshops • Classes • Certifications
  42. 42. Content Efficiency Time needed to create different kinds of content: • Informal talk (video it!): 10 mins-1 hour, not counting video edit time • Blog post: 1-10 hours • Formal presentation: 3-10 hours • Published article: 3-30 hours • Technical paper: 5-50 hours • Book: 2000 hours
  43. 43. Shortcuts to Developing Content • Bug database • Email threads • irc/Slack discussions • Code comments • Rule of thumb: if you have to answer the same question more than 3 times, put the answer somewhere easy to find (FAQ, blog post, wiki).
  44. 44. Places to put content • GitHub repo (necessary, but not sufficient) • GitHub pages • Other website and/or wiki • Blog
  45. 45. Discoverability • Project names • Use keywords, tags, and categories: – GitHub topics – Blog tags and categories – YouTube tags – SEO keywords
  46. 46. Search Engine Optimization • Content, content, content! • …and keep it fresh.
  47. 47. Meetups, talks, and conferences • Are a source of content. • Help with community building. • Earned speaking slots > paid ones. • Start small / local, work your way up to large national and international conferences. • Can’t do them all? Have technical evangelists. • Run your own conference?
  48. 48. Social media • Twitter • LinkedIn • Facebook? • Whatever else comes along
  49. 49. Two-way communication • Mailing lists • irc • Slack
  50. 50. Have a Cute Logo / Mascot
  51. 51. This one marketing secret will change your life…
  52. 52. Everything that touches the customer is marketing.
  53. 53. EVERYTHING
  54. 54. Community • Culture • Code of conduct • Diversity • Responsiveness • Kindness
  55. 55. Attitude Matters “Around 50 percent of respondents had witnessed bad behavior in open source, and they said that's often enough to keep them away from a particular project or community.” Wired on the GitHub Open Source Survey
  56. 56. The newbie experience • Welcome • Getting started materials • FAQs • Responsiveness and friendliness
  57. 57. Growing Pains • Losing responsiveness • Forgetting or alienating your founding community
  58. 58. Conclusion • Marketing is not evil. • You may already be doing marketing – you just don’t think of it that way. • The marketing appropriate for open source is mostly stuff you’re comfortable with, and probably also good at already. • Ask for help.
  59. 59. Thanks • Brendan Gregg • Laura Ramsey
  60. 60. References & Further Reading • https://www.wired.com/2017/06/diversity-open- source-even-worse-tech-overall/ • http://opensourcesurvey.org/2017/ • Building Compassionate Communities in Tech, @izs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kLIonLrKdQ • http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_u sers/2005/05/users_dont_care.html • http://www.writing-world.com/tech/tech4.shtml

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