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How To Spread Word About My FOSS Project?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the luck-plays-a-role dept.

Social Networks 244

An anonymous reader writes "I'm in a bit of a bind with an open source web software project of mine. It's a very small project that I've been developing for over three years. By now it's got a promising feature set, but very few users and virtually no community around it. The problem is that people I have asked to try it refuse to do so because it doesn't have a thriving community. It's an infinite loop: without users, we won't have a community, and without a community, users aren't coming. So, Slashdot, my question is: how can I build a community and help get the word out about a project led by 2 people and with only 5-6 regulars on our forum and IRC?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Talk to your users (5, Insightful)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926448)

1. Developers are king. If you could attract one more developer, your project would stand a much higher chance of success.

2. Just because you open-sourced your project doesn't mean it's useful to anyone. No matter how much we geeks don't like marketing [fairsoftware.net] , you have to think hard about your users: where are they, what do they care about and what do they really need?

It's normal for all new projects to languish for a while. If you think twitter was an instant success, remember that it had 2 years of null traffic before taking off. Go out and ask users what they want. Think. Then implement. Your #1 potential mistake today: feature creep. Don't think that if only you added this one more feature, the crowds would come. If anything, try to simplify things :-) and start communicating (posting on slashdot is not ideal, you should post wherever your users are, not talk to developers).

Re:Talk to your users (3, Insightful)

Walker_Boh_Druid (864617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927026)

In the same post you say devs are king, and attracting them is key, then go on to say that posting on /. is a bad idea. Contradicting yourself much?

Re:Talk to your users (3, Insightful)

Razalhague (1497249) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927178)

If you look carefully, you might notice that the project is neither named nor linked. It's kind of hard to attract devs that way.

Re:Talk to your users (3, Insightful)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927596)

It's also kind of hard to answer the question asked without knowing much about the software involved. We know it's a web project of some kind, but that doesn't do much to narrow things down. If it's a web application framework like Rails then promoting it would be a very different task than if it's a blog publishing application like Wordpress. Hopefully, it's not an exact duplicate of some other common open source project, of course. If, however, it does perform the same function as another well known program, particularly a closed source one, you might want to start by listing it on AlternativeTo. [alternativeto.net]

Re:Talk to your users (5, Insightful)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927940)

I suspect they purposefully didn't give a link to it or name it, so that the thread wouldn't be perceived as an ad, and would simply be looking for general advice that could be applicable to others.

Re:Talk to your users (4, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927430)

You didn't do well in reading comprehension in school, I'm guessing.

The poster asked about attracting users. MOST of the GP's post was regarding attracting users. Slashdot really doesn't make a very good advertising vehicle for attracting new users, it's a one-shot deal and that's pretty much it. Plus, most Slashdot folks are going to do exactly as he described - they'll say "hey that looks neet, but I don't want to mess with it if it doesn't have a good community", and with only one shot to make an impression you are likely to get pitifully few new users. Getting involved in a general OSS user's forum is a much better idea, as you can build a presence and start attracting users in spite of a lack of community.

For the exact same reasons, Slashdot is probably mediocre at best for attracting developers. However, getting involved in a good sized OSS developer's forum would be a great place to both advertise to try to attract new developers and to get more advice about getting your project out in the open.

Re:Talk to your users (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30928056)

I don't agree. If I thought it was an app that was useful to ME, regardless of whether others were flocking around it, then I would be interested.

On the other hand, if it's just yet another "social" app, I would probably reject it anyway, regardless of how many were involved with it. As far as I am concerned, the market for "social" apps is saturated, unless somebody comes up with a real, brand-new idea for them. And I don't see that as being likely.

I Spread my software using Pornography. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30927326)

Hi there, I'm The Sharecash Professor. You probably know me from /b/, /k/, and /u/ on 4chan. I've recently entered into giving great advice on 4chan's most recent sections /adv/ and given excellent news on savings for participitating on /new/.

My software delivers Lesbian Strapon Porno to anyone that answers a series of fun and easy questionaires in the promise of granting access to download the free data.

You see, my product is a consumable where only the easy-minded can access the prize.

If you want to by-pass the free questionaires because of your time or difficulty doesn't allow you to abandon the complexity and cares of your life to answer them, then just send $1 to a representive through PayPal and you'll get the content cheaper than an iTunes account.

Please, pay for my product... (you freeloaders).

Re:Talk to your users (3, Informative)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927600)

spot on. no one wants to commit to using software that will disappear if you get hit by a bus.

Re:Talk to your users (1)

YGingras (605709) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927966)

Go and meet people, give a talk at a local user group. At Montréal-Python [montrealpython.org] , we love when people present their personal projects. These are usually very interesting presentations because you know the code very well and you can answer deep technical questions.

Re:Talk to your users (1)

topnob (1195249) | more than 4 years ago | (#30928168)

is twitter that popular? i hear a lot of people talk about it(and websites) but I don't actually know anyone(outside celebrities that use it)

It's simple (3, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926452)

Ignoring asking about it on the Ask Slashdot section (which you intelligently avoided);

Get friendlier with the people that are interested in the project. Not just answering their questions, but actually become a friend with them. Then ask them to do the same to other people. And get friendlier with many of them. It works in real life circles and it works in computer circles - some people are just going to lose interest no matter what you do, so you're better of getting to know as many people as you know (as you're better of getting to know as many girls as possible)

Spreading word about FOSS project is actually no different than what it is in the real world. Charisma, getting people to work with you and having a reason to do so. We would all like everything to be just on mere technical terms, but it really isn't so. Learning to interact with people the best way goes a long way - in business world, in FOSS world, with girls.

Re:It's simple (4, Insightful)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926726)

And some product, no matter how great they are at what they do will never appeal to a large crowd because of the focus. For instance, anyone maintaining a FOSS project targetting left-handed fim-bozzles will only ever appeal to people interested in left-handed fim-bozzles not matter how good of a product your FOSS iLHFB app is. Making friends will help it grow, but making friends with left-handed fim-bozzle enthusiasts will help your project grow even more.

Re:It's simple (3, Insightful)

humphrm (18130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927268)

Very good point. And I would add one additional suggestion: go to open source conventions. I'm not going to name any, dare I get labeled a shill, but it's been my experience at open source cons that people with very narrow scope tend to run into other people with very narrow scope at these events. If possible, get on the con's speaker list, and talk about your product. People who aren't interested will skip the talk, but then you'll end up with a room where all the attendees *are* interested in your product. Great networking potential!

Of course, that's just one way to go about it, there are many other valid suggestions here that you should do as well, not just one.

Re:It's simple (4, Funny)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927280)

Last time I got "friendlier" with one of my users I got into a law suit.

This would have been a great start (4, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926482)

If there were any info. on what the project is and where to check it out. (I realize a lot of people would have made snarky comments if that info had been included too. A regular catch 22 -- but this is a great opportunity and you should post a description and link to the project in this thread.)

Without any specifics I would think most answers are going to be just as generic. Post about it in different message boards, post about it at aggregator type sites (reddit, digg) - use twitter, facebook or whatever else might help people find out about it.

Who are the intended users? Where would those people be that you might show up and promote your project? Are their user groups that might be a good place to frequent?

Would a publication/site that deals with FOSS or whatever problem your project solves be interested in doing a write-up? Will they accept one from someone on the project or one of the users?

If it runs on Linux is it available through the package management systems of the major distros?

PSST! (3, Insightful)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927608)

Hey you! Open source developer! This is your chance! Post the name of your project and pretend you posted the original question!

I am Brian... and so is my wife! (1)

tdobson (1391501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30928112)

Our open source project is a new an exciting social network, Pokebook.

You can check out our website at http://www.pokebook.co.uk/ [pokebook.co.uk]

You can clone our git repo from: git://libreapps.com/pokebook.git

Code Licence: MIT/X11

And here is our API documentation: http://paste.ubuntu.com/364225/ [ubuntu.com]

How should we improve and grow our project?

Love,

Tim xxx

Post to Slashdot! (1)

davecrusoe (861547) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926498)

And, oh, send notes to bloggers and twitters, too. But hey, if you get Slashdotted, you're in a good zone!

Re:Post to Slashdot! (3, Insightful)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926560)

I'd agree, except it might help to a) not post Anonymously b) include a link to the project in the posting c) say what it does and why it would be good for us. If you do none of the above, then the reason why your project is unheard of becomes obvious.

Re:Post to Slashdot! (3, Insightful)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926740)

Agreed. Even if 99/100 people say "this project is useless", "you suck as a coder", or they just flagrantly troll you, if you inform even one person who says to themselves "I sure wish someone had an open sourced lolcats generator" that you, in fact, have a feature rich and maturing open sourced lolcats generator, you are still increasing your community by a significant percentage.

Re:Post to Slashdot! (2, Informative)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927818)

"I sure wish someone had an open sourced lolcats generator"

cat cat | sed 's/Meow/I can haz cheezburger?/g'

Easy (2, Funny)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926510)

1) Post a message to slashdot
2) ????
3) Profit

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30926644)

Give away free laptops to tech reviewers and bloggers. Some other companies have found that a good way to get good PR.

Re:Easy (3, Insightful)

BlindSpot (512363) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926686)

Nope, Slashdot is actually an exception to the three-phase model, because this is what happens:

1) Post a message to Slashdot
2) Get Slashdotted
3) Spend all potential profits on bandwidth charges

Re:Easy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30926880)

3) Spend all potential profits on bandwidth charges

Cleverly avoided because however much we want to check out the project and join the community, there's no link.

Re:Easy (5, Funny)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926852)

1) Post a message to slashdot
2) ????
3) Profit

Except in this rare case the mystery step 2 is easy to identify:

1) Post a message to slashdot
2) Include a link to your project
3) Profit!

Re:Easy (1)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927636)

In reality it's more likely to be:

1) Post a message to slashdot
2) Include a link to your project
3) Site get's Slashdotted
4) ??? 404 ???
5) no Profit (it IS foss after all!!)

Tell us what it's called... (4, Informative)

hhappy (28340) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926540)

some of us might be interested in it. You've just missed your best PR opportunity yet!

Re:Tell us what it's called... (1)

macintard (1270416) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926728)

Agreed. I'm always on the lookout for useful software.

Re:Tell us what it's called... (3, Insightful)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926760)

Some of us might be interested, other might consider it shameless self promotion. If slashdot was doing front page adverts for every tiny FOSS project, we'd never hear any real news.

Re:Tell us what it's called... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30926812)

Some of us might be interested, other might consider it shameless self promotion. If slashdot was doing front page adverts for every tiny FOSS project, we'd never hear any real news.

So, kind'a like now? :)

Re:Tell us what it's called... (5, Informative)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926774)

I disagree. I think he's doing it perfectly.

He's asked a generic question, without shilling in the article section. That means it's less likely he's just out spamming, because he hasn't identified who he is or what the project is. So he's largely avoided the shitstorm of angry slashdotters accusing him of spamming.

But in doing so, he's piqued the curiosity of a few of us, and we've ASKED him to post details of his project now. If he does so, that means he's actually spent a few minutes here reading the responses. This marks him as someone who at least isn't doing a drive-by spamming.

Either very good and sophisticated marketing, or an honest question from a manager of a small project. I can't decide which. But either way, it works, and I'm curious about the project.

Re:Tell us what it's called... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30926872)

Oh no, a nerd shitstorm. What ever would a person do that has aroused the anger of nerds? The gigglefit that results at the ineffectual whining might be fatal.

Re:Tell us what it's called... (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927232)

I agree. I'm curious as to what it was, but appreciated that he took the time NOT to shill for it. The comments above about building social circles of shared interest, and of trying to cater to what users need (rather than adding features in hopes that they might attract users). Both were great and generic advice.

Re:Tell us what it's called... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30927256)

I may be wrong, but my guess is it is called fairsoftware.net.

No obvious shilling in the intro, but quick in there in the thread with a link. Seems to me that domain shows up a lot in posts that seem to dance around this issue. I wonder what fairsoftware is all about?

It's OK though, this comment will get modded troll or just vanish anyway. So whether it is right or wrong won't matter.

Re:Tell us what it's called... (1)

Raptor851 (1557585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927406)

"piqued the curiosity of a few of us" Is an understatement...I can't be the only one who started monitoring freshmeat for the inevitable post...even if it is just to know what the project is this is genius marketing even if it was unintentional :)

Re:Tell us what it's called... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30928002)

(I'm the anon who submitted the question)

You're correct. I avoided revealing my identity here because my goal is to learn, not to spam Slashdot.

I'm sorry to those whose curiosity is ebbing. I'm dying to post a link to the project, but am afraid it would be in bad taste, and I doubt our VPS could handle the traffic.

Re:Tell us what it's called... (2, Funny)

dandaman32 (1056054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30928022)

Shit. My sense of vocabulary is fail. Must be this ice cream. I meant "effervescing."

>_<

Re:Tell us what it's called... (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30928108)

My sense of vocabulary is fail. Must be this ice cream.

I can honestly say that, before today, it never occurred to me to try to correlate those two events. Bravo!

Re:Tell us what it's called... (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#30928024)

He's doing it perfectly if he wants to continue in obscurity.

I'm not in marketing, but even I have learned in my career that the overused adage "there's no such thing as bad publicity" is almost always true.

To be topical, look at the Apple announcement today. The product they announced was basically a larger version of something they have been selling for 3 years, and yet through absurd "shilling" they have already managed to convince a large segment of the population it's a heretofore unknown tablet created by a supernatural power and discovered by Moses in the desert.

Put an Apple on it (0, Flamebait)

macintard (1270416) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926598)

You'll have people lining up overnight regardless of substance.

Re:Put an Apple on it (-1, Offtopic)

macintard (1270416) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926622)

Awww, did somebody get upset and mod down?

Re:Put an Apple on it (0, Offtopic)

kellin (28417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926646)

Flame bait? Mod this up! Its sooo true! LOL.

Re:Put an Apple on it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30926706)

You'll have people lining up overnight regardless of substance.

mod parent up!

freshmeat (5, Informative)

mrflash818 (226638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926724)

Try posting to freshmeat?

http://freshmeat.net/about [freshmeat.net]

Re:freshmeat (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30927222)

ohloh is another good place to have your project linked. Shows the development activity, which counts to some people when choosing between multiple projects in the same niche.

Re:freshmeat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30927964)

Posting to Freshmeat is far from a holy grail. I'm a member of a FOSS web app platform that's been on FM (and a few other places, like HotScripts) since the project was forked from its predecessor. We've never really had a thriving community, and 90% of the original developers, including the most prolific ones, left the project long ago for various reasons, including endless bikeshedding at every level.

The small community we have is enthusiastic about the product and won't touch anything else, but none of them seem to feel capable of making the jump from user to contributor. My theory is that when the project was as it most vibrant (its first three years), a strong Cathedral mentality (as opposed to Bazaar) was created where the team would implement anything the users wanted, which spoiled them. Recent efforts to tear down the Cathedral and foster contribution have been ineffective. A "code uber alles" mindset never helped either.

The project has been forked and the forker seems determined to undermine us; he uses our communication channels to troll us and redirect users to his fork. I've wanted to ban him for a long time, but no one else wants to pull that trigger.

In a lot of projects, the developers usually lack two abilities: good UI design (where applicable), and marketing.

This story is similar to one I've been considering posting for a while now.

(Posted anonymously to avoid being a slashvertisement)

Seriously (1)

aitikin (909209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926770)

You have a crew of nerds here who are all about open source and you refer to your project as "an open source web software project of mine" and are asking for more users?! You must be new here. It's kinda sad that you didn't put it in the summary, as others pointed out before me, you really did miss out. Good luck getting it in in the comments, everybody who skims the summaries won't even see it...

Re:Seriously (5, Insightful)

Eudial (590661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926962)

You have a crew of nerds here who are all about open source and you refer to your project as "an open source web software project of mine" and are asking for more users?!

You must be new here.

It's kinda sad that you didn't put it in the summary, as others pointed out before me, you really did miss out. Good luck getting it in in the comments, everybody who skims the summaries won't even see it...

If he -had- posted it in the article, 70% of the comments would berate him for slashvertisement. So it's a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Re:Seriously (0, Redundant)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927646)

Only if you give a shit about what slashdotters say. If you develop a genuinely useful free software project you deserve the free advertising for the time you've spent.

Not really... (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927872)

If he -had- posted it in the article, 70% of the comments would berate him for slashvertisement. So it's a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't.

So here's the thing: He didn't even say WHAT the app did, never mind a link to the project.

Had he at least done that, he would have either been told that's it's a great idea (or not) or been told that a similar project already exists and should probably be putting his energy toward the other, already established project.

My guess is he was afraid that there was already another similar project and didn't want to be compared to it - fairly or unfairly.

Sucks, but that's usually how things go.

Slashvertisement Fail (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30926882)

So basically.. this is a Slashvertisement without the name of the project? Brilliant.

Re:Slashvertisement Fail (1)

gbelteshazzar (1214658) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926978)

gold!

Re:Slashvertisement Fail (3, Insightful)

Razalhague (1497249) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927286)

So, it's like... an actual question? On "Ask Slashdot"?! Wow.

Just time... (3, Insightful)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926908)

Like some have already said, time is your only enemy. Websites that need numbers to thrive take time. It is like a snow-ball effect, at first you'll have only 4-5 people (probably your friends), but that friend will tell the next person, and you'll be up to 10 users, and so on and so forth. Eventually it'll grow on its own without any need for intervention from your side.

My bittorrent tracker took probably 6 months before it started taking off thanks to word of mouth. Now maxed out at 8,000 users and that's only because of server limitations. Perseverence and waiting is your only choice at this point.

And remember, your only chance of making it ahead of others is offering something that nobody does, so ask yourself what *new* are you bringing to the playing field? If the answer is "not much" then I'm afraid you'll have a tough time.

And like others said, you failed to list your website, which was a big mistake - don't worry about looking like you're trying to use ./ as a way to promote, it's obvious you are - so USE IT!

Make it good (1)

kikito (971480) | more than 4 years ago | (#30926992)

That's the best thing you can do. Make it ROCK.

Re:Make it good (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927534)

This project goes to 11?

Re:Make it good (0, Offtopic)

narcc (412956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927704)

For $3000, I'll make it go up to 12.

It might be helpful to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30927022)

post a link?

Not only would that immediately incite us to click to your site, but it's helpful to us if we know what we're looking at before providing marketing advice.

Oh come on... (0, Redundant)

Simulant (528590) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927030)

    Submitting this to /. is like putting up a billboard that says only, "Please check out my product."

If you'd said what it was you'd be half way there.

Re:Oh come on... (2, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927088)

No it's not. He didn't name the product and he even posted AC. You can't get any more "This is not an advertisement" ... unless he's REALLY good at it, and is drumming up curiosity.

Heh. (5, Funny)

lattyware (934246) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927032)

I like how when there is a slashvertisement, everyone bitches.
This guy sidesteps, and everyone is complaining because there isn't a slashvertisement. Oh the irony.

Also. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927080)

... when there is a slashvertisement, everyone bitches.
This guy sidesteps, and everyone is complaining ...

Also: There are people bitching about it being a slashvertisement ANYHOW. B-b

Re:Also. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30927156)

Yes, guy should just GTFO my lawn and post the nonposted information in a post after the post! /rant over

Re:Heh. (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927794)

It's a slashdot conspiracy! It's like there's two teams, an offensive team and a defensive team, and whenever one of them stays quiet, the other one takes over.

Re:Heh. (1)

Nightspirit (846159) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927842)

People here hate marketing but there is a reason why companies like MS and Apple spend so much on it, it works even if people complain about it. The end result is now no one knows what this company is, but if they mentioned the company people would have complained, but maybe a couple people would have found something they wanted.

Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30927058)

Have you tried plugging it in a Slashdot story?

Seriously, what is it?

find a similar product (1)

enter to exit (1049190) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927072)

find a similar piece of software and be helpful in their forums/IRC chanel.
When a user wants to do something that you feel your project can handle better or do easier, give yourself a free advertisement.

Why would anybody want your project? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927120)

Why would anybody want your project?

Without knowing what your project is, it's hard to say, but in the Open Source world there are probably hundreds of competitors. Make sure you stand out amongst the others in a positive way and make sure people can read about it on your project's website.

call me crazy, but... (1)

foreboy (879499) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927136)

When you get an opportunity to publicize it, try telling us what it does! Seems like that would be the best first step. FOSS is Darwin - you have to be confident that you are solving a problem, or at least solving it better than its been solved before. If you have, you'll be able tto defend against the inevitable cynicism.

Make them want to use your project (2, Insightful)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927148)

By now it's got a promising feature set, but very few users and virtually no community around it. The problem is that people I have asked to try it refuse to do so because it doesn't have a thriving community.

Your project will have to stand on its own merits then and you will have to be focal about what those merits are. Hold talks at conferences, mention it to your friends, keep an updated blog, use FLOSS-distribution sites like freshmeat. If people are interested you will hear from them.

If that doesn't help and you are sure your project is worthwhile you should investigate in your competition, take a good unbiased look. If there are a couple of large projects with large communities that accomplish something similar make sure you differentiate yourself from them. What makes your project unique and better than the rest? Perhaps those projects have something your project doesn't. A large community may be a plus but it isn't the only reason why users pick a certain project.

If you can't make your project grow, relax and don't force the issue. If your project is truly worthwhile people will find it and the ones using your project will spread the word. If it doesn't gain popularity you can at least enjoy working on it and take pride in what you accomplish: the FLOSS community isn't a popularity-contest and there is no free car waiting for the one project that trumps the rest.

Where did /. go? (0, Redundant)

Joucifer (1718678) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927152)

Shouldn't there be about 9 links in there to your project of shameless self promotion?

Please stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30927162)

You are taking the jobs of commercial software developers.

Re:Please stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30927454)

You are taking the jobs of commercial software developers.

Uh, ok... Let's assume that things are that simple as you say.
What if the "commercial software developers" are in a foreign country... Why should one care?

Open Source Development HOWTO (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30927330)

  1. Introduction

    As everyone knows, Open Source software is the wave of the future. With the market share of GNU/Linux and *BSD increasing every day, interest in Open Source Software is at an all time high.

    Developing software within the Open Source model benefits everyone. People can take your code, improve it and then release it back to the community. This cycle continues and leads to the creation of far more stable software than the 'Closed Source' shops can ever hope to create.

    So you're itching to create that Doom 3 killer but don't know where to start? Read on!

  2. First Steps

    The most important thing that any Open Source project needs is a Sourceforge page. There are tens of thousands of successful Open Source projects on Sourceforge.Net; the support you receive here will be invaluable.

    OK, so you've registered your Sourceforge.Net project and set the status to '0: Pre-Thinking About It', what's next?

  3. Don't Waste Time!

    Now you need to set up your SourceForge.net homepage. Keep it plain and simple - don't use too many HTML tags, just knock something up in VI. Website editors like Expression Web and DreamWeaver just create bloated eye-candy - you need to get your message to the masses!

  4. Ask For Help

    Since you probably can't program at all you'll need to try and find some people who think they can. If your project is a game you'll probably need an artist too. Ask for help on your new Sourceforge pages. Here is an example to get you started:

    "Hi there! Welcom to my SorceForge page! I am planing to create a Fisrt Person Shooter game for Linux that is going to kick Doom 3's ass! I have loads of awesome ideas, like giant robotic spiders! I need some help thouh as I cant program or draw. If you can program or draw the tekstures please get in touch! K thx bye!"

    Thousands of talented programmers and artists hang out at Sourceforge.net ready to devote their time to projects so you should get a team together in no time!

  5. The A-Team

    So now you have your team together you are ready to change your projects status to '1: Pre-Bickering'. You will need to discuss your ideas with your team mates and see what value they can add to the project. You could use an Instant Messaging program like MSN for this, but since you run Linux you'll have to stick to e-mail.

    Don't forget that YOU are in charge! If your team doesn't like the idea of giant robotic spiders just delete them from the project and move on. Someone else can fill their place and this is the beauty of Open Source development. The code might end up a bit messy and the graphics inconsistant - but it's still 'Free as in Speech'!

  6. Getting Down To It

    Now that you've found a team of right thinking people you're ready to start development. Be prepared for some delays though. Programming is a craft and can take years to learn. Your programmer may be a bit rusty but will probably be writing "hello world" programs after school in no time.

    Closed Source games like Doom 3 use the graphics card to do all the hard stuff anyhow, so your programmer will just have to get the NVidia 'API' and it will be plain sailing! Giant robot spiders, here we come!

  7. The Outcome

    So it's been a few years, you still have no files released or in CVS. Your programmer can't get enough time on the PC because his mother won't let him use it after 8pm. Your artist has run off with a Thai She-Male. Your project is still at '1: Pre-Bickering'...

    Congratulations! You now have a successful Open Source project on Sourceforge.net! Pat yourself on the back, think up another idea and do it all again! See how simple it is?

Re:Open Source Development HOWTO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30927634)

Troll? Seriously? this is hilarious and it isnt just some crude shit eater stuff.. this is funny to read and marginally on topic

Re:Open Source Development HOWTO (2, Insightful)

keeboo (724305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927996)

The MSN part is troll-ish, some parts are oversimplistic and troll-ish aswell but...

While I'm a supporter of FOSS software, things like that do happen. There's a great deal of truth in that text.
Ironically, it also applies to proprietary software. The difference? We never hear about that.

Make it do something useful (4, Insightful)

takowl (905807) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927338)

I've been involved with a project which fitted this description almost perfectly: FOSS webapp which was dependent on a community it never really had. I almost thought the question could be about it, until I visited its page to find that it's being closed down. It may sound obvious, but I think what really did for that project was that it didn't do anything people could already do. Specifically, a large part of its functionality was replicating things that Facebook did, and maybe 99% of its target users were on Facebook. Without a compelling reason to use it, it never really took off, and the developers weren't enthused enough to create the grand new features that had been planned.

Getting critical mass in the first place is hard. I wonder if there's any stories out there about how Facebook/Myspace/Twitter first got started. As others have said, you'll need to sell it to your friends first, then work at keeping them happy until they're happy to recommend it to their friends. Perhaps focus at first on the non-social aspects of the site, that don't depend on community, then be ready to shift to a more social model once you've got a couple of dozen users. An empty forum is just depressing, but some old-fashioned content is useful even for the very first visitor.

Oh, and since everyone's busy berating you for not giving the name: well done on not Slashvertising! Although I admit I'm also curious about it.

subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30927392)

adding to the above good advices, include a link to your project's website in your forum signatures. wording and info about what it links to should ideally be as concise and short as possible.

Be careful what you wish for! (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927398)

You have to ask yourself honestly what you want to gain from starting a large community around a FOSS project. Even very small communities take a huge amount of time and effort to hold together, and it really is a lot of work. Rarely do people simply tell you what a great piece of work you've done; much more likely they will be finding fault and questioning your design decisions. If you are ready for that and genuinely see it as a way to build a better product, then great, go for it. But if your real (possibly subconscious) motivation is kudos and ego-massaging, forget it. If your project is useful to you and serves a need, that may well turn out to be good enough - if a few others also find it useful, that's a bonus. But beyond that, the overhead of support for a larger group will probably take up all your time. Is it worth it?

Is it actually a good project? (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927450)

Are you sure a "promising feature set" translates to "solves a problem people actually have"? Or is your software a solution in search of a problem?

I would think that if you have a compelling solution to a real problem, you would be able to attract some new users and grow that community. If somebody else is already solving your problem successfully, think long and hard about whether or not your approach is different enough to warrant a new solution; if it is different enough, make your case to that software's community and see if any like-minded people are inclined to join your team. If it is not, then throw your weight behind the existing solution and help make that existing solution better.

My suggestions. (3, Interesting)

Tei (520358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927496)

Have good documentations, screenshots, maybe a video. A good website (cms + nice theme, maybe).
Then, wen you do big releases, poke the bloggers or news posters about it. People like to read news.
You can even poke the news-guys if you have something interesting, fun, amazing, to show.

And wen you give articles to news-guys, make these article very good. avoid spell errors, use your better english, etc.. your text must be perfect. This really help these people, and your opportunities, everyone.

Maybe the problem is not the community? (3, Insightful)

Ekuryua (940558) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927536)

Am I the only to think that if a project doesn't get a grip at all it's MAYBE because it is not that useful to people? In my experience, projects do benefit from a community boost, but 90% of the work is still having a useful application that people desire.

Same as Fox News (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30927558)

Add more chicks in bikini's

The sad fact is... (3, Insightful)

simaul (594771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927580)

For every successful FOSS project there are
hundreds of wannabes. Most are ignored, and
rightfully so. Yours might be different... you
do have more than just yourself involved.

But so often one hears the whine, "won't someone
please join my little project" and there's just
nothing there worth looking at. Could this be you?

The real reason people aren't using it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30927628)

Actually, the real reason those people don't use your software is because it's shit. If it was worth anything, it'd be used.

Code Offset (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927756)

If it's good, but needs a push, why not submit it for the Good Code Grant [codeoffsets.com] ?

From the FAQ:

The Alliance for Code Excellence wants to help in its own small way. The $500 Good Code Grant could provide the one small spark that might ignite some bright idea gnawing at some developer somewhere. That idea, once enabled, could shine the light of code excellence around the worldwide code base.

Tell us about your current free and open source project or your idea for a new free and open source project. Be sure to describe how your idea or project decreases the propagation of bad code as it increases the excellence of the worldwide code base. Finally, let us know how you think that $500 grant will help your project blossom as it aligns with our vision for the future.

I've used your software (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30927760)

And it sucks balls dude. Sorry. Just being honest.

Marketing advice (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927782)

I wanted to look at your project...
- no link in the post
- no link on your blog
- no link on your /. journal

so, step 1 would be to let people know what you're working on.

Sex (0, Redundant)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927808)

It sells.

Why hasn't another FOSS project hijacked this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30927846)

Since this was posted as anonymous, it seems to me like anyone could say that this referred to their project...

Reduce the barriers (2, Informative)

plcurechax (247883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927858)

Make it as easy as possible for users to try your software.

Take the time to create and maintain packaging for major Linux and BSD distributions. Or at least make it as easy as possible for someone to maintain a distribution package of the current stable version.

Make it easy to migrate to, and if possible, back out of again, from the popular alternative(s). Such as Import / Export functionality from popular commercial software (if there is any). In other words, as easy as possible for people to try your software.

Improve documentation. Write basic tutorials for with specific instructions for more distributions. Ensure you have a good wiki / FAQ / knowledgebase dealing with installation and usage issues that have been already reported, and keep it up to date with new issues that arise in newer releases. I hate seeing a FAQ for project X that hasn't been updated since the original 0.9 release 3 years ago.

Of course it has to be useful. Preferably better than the other free (either gratis or open-source / libre) alternatives.

Does the usefulness of the web software itself increase with an increased userbase? Look at marketing that deals with the network effect [wikipedia.org] . In general, look at IT marketing, consider what would work with your target userbase, and try to go with that. How much do you know about your userbase? Market research is vital, even on FLOSS projects.

Whatever Works (1)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927902)

Make sure you've covered all the conventional bases, keep them up to date while swapping in and our aspects of your presentation and presence watching to see if something shows some pop. If you're not big on or strong in variations on themes and like to stick with "just the facts, mam" then fine but keep the facts current and accessible. You've already started on the second tier which is to ask for help from people and forums generally, the more especially where people might be sympathetic and may even participate and spread the word. Take every good idea in this thread and try it out while trying while not being pointedly intrusive in only tangentially related venues. Lastly persevere and try always to capitalise on the convergence of any two or more means of growth and exposure that compliment, or, even conflict with one another because when you do so and make others aware of convergence or conflict you're being open and informative rather than simply self promoting. And if someone "big" and "important" expresses an interest indirectly in something your product can really deliver on don't be afraid to approach them directly and confidently, just don't intrude and start bull shitting. above works for about anything, well works for me anyway. goodluck and never underestimate good timing.

Not useful (2, Interesting)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#30927928)

Your software is likely not terribly useful, difficult to set up, and/or not as useful as something which is easier to set up. It might also be ugly compared to the competition.

You might also have an unreasonable requirement; eg. Postgresql (not MySQL, etc.) for a backend database on, say, a note/reminder application. That's a bit of a headache to setup. Poor documentation? There ya go - most people aren't intimately familiar w/ every piece of software out there and wouldn't be able to follow the sparse breadcrumbs of documentation. (Just guessing here, I don't know your project.)

Let me take gxemul [sourceforge.net] , an architecture emulator (ARM, MIPS, Motorola 88K, PowerPC, and SuperH). It's got very limited utility - IE, mainly for nostalgic users, hobbyists, or possibly as a way to make cross-compilation easier (by doing it 'native'). I've used it for the latter two purposes, and it does a good enough job that I got what I needed to get done (mostly).

As far as I know, it's got a single active developer. The IRC channel has under a dozen users, with maybe 2-3 active at a time max (last I checked). Yet, as a project, it seems to do pretty well.

Something you might try: packaging your project for a couple distributions and trying to get it added, with yourself as the package maintainer. I know that awesome (the window manager) is packaged in most distros at a reasonably current version, despite its fast paced development (it's under 2 years old, as a project). Having those packages available has certainly helped spread its adoption.

Some Educated Guess Work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30928010)

Using Sourceforge's terrible search engine, I tried my best to deduce the software package of our mysterious author.

Things we know:
two developers
small forum base
three+ years old
web based
open source

Things we can assume:
on Sourceforge
fewer than 50,000 downloads
is listed as Production/Stable or Mature

After a bit of playing, I got the list down to 35 hits. Five of which list two authors on the info page
Limbas - very dated forum usage
vbDrupal - very active forum
Gerenciador Clínico Odontológico Smile - Spanish means nothing to me
Jumper 2.0 - no easy to find forum (which means I could not find it) additionally, they sell support...why make a forum easy to find if you want people to buy support?
The Vexi Platform - few regularish forum use

Given the limited info, I am concluding that the author is responsible for the creation of the Vexi Platform http://sourceforge.net/projects/vexi/

Like any other business (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30928100)

Find the people who are the target for your application and sell to them. Go to whatever blogs, forums, etc they hang out on and tell them about your application and be helpful. Like this guy [youtube.com] says: become a part of the community, give a crap and build something worthwhile.

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