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BelFOSS - Marketing your FOSS open source project to increase contribution

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Marketing your FOSS project
to increase contribution
#BelFOSS 2018
Heather McNamee
@nearlythere
heather@openstrategypartne...

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Communicate. Connect. Grow.
Tracy Evans
@kanadiankicks
Jeffrey A. “jam” McGuire
@horncologne
9 174 990 2665
Heather McName...

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A better definition of marketing
Your goals and message
Your contributor’s goals
Connecting the dots
Practical tips
In thi...

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BelFOSS - Marketing your FOSS open source project to increase contribution

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Are you managing an open source project? How much does this matter to your reputation, business, or bottom line? This session will provide practical takeaways to help you reach the right audience and open up productive lines of communication with your project’s users and community members.

From predictable release schedules and release notes; to the differences between tutorials, guides, and documentation; and yes, to your promotional schedule–marketing touches on all aspects of communication between your users and your product.

We’ll look at open source contribution from a marketing perspective, and draw on research into barriers to contribution for newcomers. There are some surprising onboarding gaps overlooked by most open source projects, and they are easy to bridge, for example with containerized applications.

Are you managing an open source project? How much does this matter to your reputation, business, or bottom line? This session will provide practical takeaways to help you reach the right audience and open up productive lines of communication with your project’s users and community members.

From predictable release schedules and release notes; to the differences between tutorials, guides, and documentation; and yes, to your promotional schedule–marketing touches on all aspects of communication between your users and your product.

We’ll look at open source contribution from a marketing perspective, and draw on research into barriers to contribution for newcomers. There are some surprising onboarding gaps overlooked by most open source projects, and they are easy to bridge, for example with containerized applications.

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BelFOSS - Marketing your FOSS open source project to increase contribution

  1. 1. Marketing your FOSS project to increase contribution #BelFOSS 2018 Heather McNamee @nearlythere heather@openstrategypartners.com
  2. 2. Communicate. Connect. Grow. Tracy Evans @kanadiankicks Jeffrey A. “jam” McGuire @horncologne 9 174 990 2665 Heather McNamee @nearlythere
  3. 3. A better definition of marketing Your goals and message Your contributor’s goals Connecting the dots Practical tips In this talk
  4. 4. bullshitbingo.net/cards/marketing/ “Marketing Fluff” Bullshit Bingo
  5. 5. The Dark Arts of Marketing
  6. 6. Has Bean
  7. 7. Authentic Communication: Compelling & Accurate Understand your stakeholders and their needs. Genuine, hype-free content. Amplify the voices of your communities. Value propositions organized by themes, messages, & channelsEmpathy Clarity Trust (authentic communication)
  8. 8. Community Authentic communication drives connection ... Community creates business value. Communication Connection Connection drives community ...
  9. 9. Your goals & message
  10. 10. commitstrip.com/en/2014/05/07/the-truth-behind- open-source-apps/
  11. 11. What do maintainers need? Via TideLift - “Pay the maintainers!” supporting open source through subscription model. https://twitter.com/tidelift/status/971403 351312224262 https://twitter.com/teabass/status/7956 16915540545536
  12. 12. I want more contributors so that... I can have more help. More eyeballs is better quality. Keep it relevant. I want to widen my network. Potential hires / staff. Potential customers. Why?
  13. 13. Facebook’s motivations - It makes them write better software - It reduces onboarding time https://code.facebook.com/projects/ https://twitter.com/sarahmei/status/971483363344228352 https://osls18.sched.com/event/Djtb/building-facebook-open-source- christine-abernathy-facebook To win hearts and minds?
  14. 14. Side Project? Mitchell Hashimoto’s “Side project” Vagrant Now Hashicorp Raised $74.2M
  15. 15. Your message Value proposition What is unique about your project? Differentiate. Call to action (CTA) Why should contributors get involved? What do you need?
  16. 16. Your contributors
  17. 17. What do we mean by Contribution? Code contributions Monetary contributions Feedback, testing Triage, support, helping others Documentation, tutorials Promotion
  18. 18. Why do they contribute? ● Clear and easy contribution process. ● Feel good factor give back to community ● Gain reputation and prestige ● They needed the fixes done! http://www.igor.pro.br/publica/papers/saner2016.pdf More Common Than You Think: An In-Depth Study of Casual Contributors http://www.igor.pro.br/publica/papers/saner2016.pdf
  19. 19. ● Lack of time ● No income from it ● Limited skills or knowledge ● Code/project is hard to learn ● Casual contributors are usually active in other projects ● Setting up development environment drud.com/removing-the-biggest-barrier-to-contribution/ Supporting newcomers to overcome the barriers to contribute to open source software projects http://www.teses.usp.br/teses/disponiveis/45/45134/tde-30112015-131552/pt-br.php More Common Than You Think: An In-Depth Study of Casual Contributors http://www.igor.pro.br/publica/papers/saner2016.pdf Why don’t they contribute?
  20. 20. Casual Contributors are “Leads” Casual contributors are responsible for only 1.73% of the total number of contributions in our corpus of OSS projects More Common Than You Think: An In-Depth Study of Casual Contributors http://www.igor.pro.br/publica/papers/saner2016.pdf 28% of casual contributions to open source are documentation such as a typo fix, reformatting, or writing a translation
  21. 21. Used with permission “Effective Open Source Interactions” by Mike McQuaid speakerdeck.com/mikemcquaid/effective-open-source-interactions?slide=18
  22. 22. Communicating your message
  23. 23. Marketing to developers Allergic to aggressive marketing. They are ad-blockers. They make a bee-line for good content. They are curious autodidacts! commitstrip.com/en/2018/02/16/just-a- few-ads/
  24. 24. Customer Journey Touchpoints 1. First contact 2. Seek information 3. Download & Install it 4. Seek help 5. Contribute!
  25. 25. README https://github.com/matiassingers/awes ome-readme
  26. 26. A license! https://choosealicense.com/
  27. 27. Project maturity level and roadmap Is it clear what kinds of contributions you’re looking for? What you will NOT accept? Known issues? Lots of greenfield work to be done? Is this project on life support?
  28. 28. Contribution guidelines The contribution steps Expectations Example https://github.com/drud/community
  29. 29. Consistent release and versioning Predictable releases. Consistent cadence for communications. https://wiki.ubuntu.com/TimeBase dReleases Consistent version scheme, tag names. 1.0.0-alpha1, v1.0.0, v1.1.2. Use Preview/Snapshot Versions For Development. 1.1.0.pre1 1.1.0- alpha1 https://producingoss.com/en/dev elopment-cycle.html
  30. 30. Lifesigns! Responsive on the issue queue. How long should people expect to wait? Delegate triage. http://edunham.net/2016/09/27/rust_s_co mmunity_automation.html
  31. 31. Recognition Record contributions. Recognize outstanding contributors. Also NON-code contributions! Gather stories about people behind your project.
  32. 32. Community Speak with your contributors Run Sprints! Check out my guide! https://github.com/drud/sprint_guide
  33. 33. https://unsplash.com/photos/D2K1UZr4vxk Docs = Map Tutorials = Travel book Training = Guided tour
  34. 34. Recap! ● Understand your own goals. Your WHY. ● Understand your users, your target audience. ○ What are their pain points? ○ What are you offering them? ○ Talk with them! ● How can you communicate your message best? ○ Predictable cadence ○ Strong, consistent signal ○ Responsive interaction ○ Help people learn!
  35. 35. Who’s buyin? Attribution Richard Stallman speaking in Oslo as Saint IGNUcius. 2009-02-23. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Richard_Stallman_by_gisle h_01.jpg
  36. 36. Resources ● http://www.writethedocs.org/guide/ ● https://opensource.guide/ ● www.sideprojectchecklist.com/ ● betta.io/blog/categories/developer-onboarding/ ● github.com/nayafia/contributing-template ● makeapullrequest.com/ ● producingoss.com/en/publicity.html ● wiki.ubuntu.com/TimeBasedReleases ● about.gitlab.com/2015/12/17/gitlab-release-process ● github.com/zalando/zalando-howto-open-source/blob/master/producttemplate.md ● edunham.net/2016/09/27/rust_s_community_automation.html ● http://yourfirstpr.github.io
  37. 37. Questions? Ping me @nearlythere Run a sprint, check out the guide https://github.com/drud/sprint_guide

Editor's Notes

  • I bring you a background in technical communications, instructional design, documentation, and training.
    My open source story is: I started using OSS, Drupal, in 2002, and came for the code and stayed for the community Most of my contributions have been non-code, event organization, teaching, and docs.
    I work with Open Strategy Partners - we collaborate with open-source-focused companies to communicate value, connect with the people who need to hear their story, and grow their communities.
  • We’ll look at fostering open source contribution through the lens of marketing.
    We may have some preconceptions about marketing that I’ll address head-on.
    And I’ll leave you with some practical ideas for how you can get more contributors.
  • When we think of marketing we think of bullshit bingo and buzzwords
    I want to talk about two kinds of marketing- here online digital marketing…
    And two of my favorite beverages.
  • I think Naked Wines is a good example of turning on all the bells and whistles of manipulative marketing tactics.
    Many discount pricing incentives (also confusing!)
    Virality - OMG share and you’ll get more.
    Social proof - everyone else is doing it.
    Scarcity! List is FULL?? them my credit card info I WILL get an invitation.
    Gamification - you have no friends!
    Urgency - OMG the clock is ticking. I get stressed out just looking at this.
    I get stressed out just visiting this site. The service was poor, and the wine was mediocre.
  • Compare to HasBean - they don’t use manipulative marketing tactics. They don’t even use discounts and pricing incentives, which consumers expect.
    Narrative - They connect you to the stories behind the product.
    Now when I sip a cup, I’m buying from a coffee farm that provides education for the employees and their kids. I’m making the world a better place by drinking coffee. It’s an emotional connection.
    CLICK They TEACH people about the product.
    They use marketing to connect the users to get the most out of the product, and understand the WHY behind the product.

  • Marketing people are well versed in behavioural psychology, and that’s one of the reasons we have bad experiences. These two online digital marketing examples give us a comparison we can relate to.
    When this is applied to software, it turns into false promises, manipulative sales tactics, and erosion of trust.
    If you want to learn some of the dark arts of marketing, so you can recognize them! i highly recommend starting with this book by Daniel Kahneman.
    There IS another way!
  • This is why at OSP- we have a better definition of marketing that focuses on strengthening relationships.
    Marketing is about knowing your market and responding to their needs with authentic communication.

    We use empathy to put ourselves in others’ shoes, to understand their needs.
    We try to be as clear as possible in the topics we communicate, to whom, in which channels.
    We build trust by avoiding as much Marketing BS as we can.

    Authentic content is both compelling and accurate.
  • To build a strategy you will identify your audience. Define your message. And communicate that message.

    We see a pattern (easily recognised in open source software)
    that communication drives connection,
    connection builds communities,
    and communities create business value.

    This is a virtuous circle
  • Let’s look at your goals first . ASK
    Are you involved in marketing (what % raised hands?)
    Are you using open source > contributing > maintaining? (what %?)
  • Shout out to the maintainers! What we think of maintainership versus the reality.
    It’s lonely out there.
  • Incidentally this is from Tidelift. They are building sustainable open source support through a subscription model.
    Commercial companies who use open source need to step up.
    END SOAPBOX
    70% of respondents are employed full- or part-time
    85% of those contribute in some way to software development
    94% of those who are employed use FOSS at work
    GitHub http://opensourcesurvey.org/2017/


  • Why do you want contribution?
    To get help - Distribute effort among others.
    Better quality - Bring in outside expertise - you don’t know everything. It will improve the quality. Testing, eyeballs. Making it easier for people to use.
    Relevance - Keep your project relevant in shifting market.
    Widen your network - such as for hiring, getting hired, or getting business.
    Ask audience: Why do you want contribution, did I miss anything?
    Final click: Your goals are your marketing objectives
  • Perhaps you want to even sell ancillary services.
    Or like facebook you want to grow the community, and perhaps recruit?
  • Is your side project something that could become an entire company?
    Mitchell Hashimoto with Vagrant, and it became Hashicorp
  • Are you taking an approach where you offer freemium try-before-you-buy software?
    This is somewhat a negative example. This company has almost abandoned their “open source” version. CLICK
    They’ve gone dark on their issue queue while they work on their proprietary version, keeping development under wraps.
    This is a continual problem in marketing open source. Open source is used - “crippleware”
    Reminder: The discussion of open source business models is outside of scope for this talk but it’s good to know the pitfalls.
  • Prepare a value proposition.

    MAKE IT EASIER for your users! Compare - you’re like this, but not like that.

    List your Direct Competitors and Alternatives - Why your project is different?
    Strengths and weaknesses (internal factors)
    Opportunities and threats (external factors)
  • Developers mainly want to scratch their own itch — “I just need a bug fixed, I don’t aim to improve the project substantially”
  • Researchers found one of the biggest barriers was setting up a development environment so they could even test.
    The project DDEV for example, turns the install steps for a PHP development environment to a few lines of code you can copy and paste into terminal.
  • There’s a negative perception about casual conctribution. Mean to call it “drive-by-contribution”
    However! Let’s look at this positively.
    Casual contributors are potential leads, offer word-of-mouth referrals.
    The word of mouth network is strong.
    A positive experience will resonate long after.
    Think of them as “LEADS”
  • Mike McQuaid of GitHub used this “marketing funnel” to frame how we can think of the user base and contributor base as potentially growing into maintainership roles.
    His point is that no one ever became a maintainer that wasn’t first a user and a contributor.
    So how can we foster this?
  • Marketing’s role is to foster the relationship between developers and the software they use.
    Developers are allergic to manipulation.
    Developers are curious and do enjoy learning and problem solving.
  • How do people interact with your project?
    They hear about it. The see your tweet about it. Read a blog post.
    They look it up on GitHub. They view the README.
    They download it. They install it. They try it out.
    They seek help. They ask a question, offer a suggestion, ask for a feature. “I love the support.”
    They make a contribution.
  • Your README is like a brand landing page.
    A lot of what I’m going to talk about will be IN your README.
  • What are people finding when they get there?

    Preaching to the converted here, but in case any folks thinking they can just WING it, don’t.
    Released without a license is NOT open source.
  • People want to know the workflow.
    Looking for social rules and etiquette.
    GitHub and GitLab have their own flow which have you collaborate a certain way.
    But there are many other repositories.
  • Consider adopting time-based not feature based release cycle. Ubuntu and Gnome use a 6 month cycle. GitLab uses a monthly cycle. So many benefits for the users, contributors, who don’t wait long to see their contribution in use! Benefits for communication as well.
  • Here’s Rust for example - they have automated their community niceties.
  • Again, back to your contributor’s goals. They will be grateful for recognition, but it also show potential contributors that it matters.

  • Your users are your community
    Are you running sprints?

    I wrote a Sprint Guide, check this out!
  • Documentation is like the map of your project. It covers the entire territory.
    You need more than a map!
    CLICK Tutorials and Guides are like the travel books you’d pay a little extra for.
    CLICK Training is like the guided tour, you’ll get insider information.
    After spending many years convincing product managers that YES they needed to provide training. It’s not a fault of the software if you need to provide tutorials.
  • Open source communities are more porous. It’s easier for newcomers to get access and experience through open source. As gatekeepers, we have a special opportunity to increase the pool of talent by reaching out to people with less experience.
  • About business value… and the bottom line.
    I have to resist talking about open source business models but funding open source is something we have to consider.
    We have to frame the economics of your work. Tenants of open source - monetary freedom is based on the assumption that people are gainfully as the open source founders were. They didn’t have flashy lifestyles.
    Recent open source survey GitHub 75% of ppl using open source are employed full time.
    This is why relying on the effort of unpaid volunteers is suspect, and also one of the reasons the audience for OSS has mainly been educated, employed, middle-class.
    What you want to see is that the people at the centre are gainfully employed, and also contributors also in a position to put the time in to give back to the commons.
  • These slides will be available online with links to all the resources I mentioned in this talk.

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