social media guide for free software projects

Lately more and more people come to me with questions like “What does $randomsocialmediaterm mean?” or “How does $socialmediasite work?” or “How do I do this on $socialmediasite?“. It seems people start to understand that social media can be a huge thing for free software projects but don’t really know where to start or where to look for help.

So I sat down for a few hours and wrote the Social Media Guide For Free Software Projects. Download it and find out how social media can help your project stay in touch with your users and make it rock even more. Learn about digg, Twitter,, and more. The guide includes basic intros to different sites as well as advanced tips for how to deal with social media in general.

Enjoy and please leave feedback for the next version of the guide 🙂

13 thoughts on “social media guide for free software projects”

  1. Awesome work, Lydia! Well researched and easily understood, and a great intro to the huge world of social media. Your guide should be useful to lots of different groups, not just free software projects!

    One thing I do think you should stress in your next release though – the importance of spell-checking posts and communication with users. Nothing is more annoying than poorly written releases! While free software trancends language barriers, it’s important that (for example) non-$LANG speakers find a native speaker to read through, and correct if necessary, articles before they are published.

  2. I am not so fond of Digg, as it is heavily biased towards proprietary software. Or when did you last see a Linux related topic not disappear within hours or even minutes from the front page (if we ever make it there, which is extremely rare), whereas other news, seemingly far less important, suddenly shoot up like rockets?
    Also, the comment style on Digg is extremely rough and trollish and takes away a lot of energy from all of us. When I would have to qualify poisonous people amongst new sites, then Digg is heavily loaded of, hence to avoid.
    There seems to be an army of people well paid to down-vote everything…
    If I would recommend one site with a far better culture (and far nicer and intelligent commenters), then I would recommend Reddit anytime and forget about Digg, we never achieved something there and most likely will not anyway.

  3. @Mamarok I don’t actually think digg is that malicious. And even if: every free software story we get up there gets read by _a lot_ of people, making them more aware of free software alternatives.

  4. Hi Lydia

    A good paper I totally agree with it, but always remember you can not control the mass on the internet. You should read about the black swan theory, I think you’ll enjoy it. 🙂

    ps: a small typo: is now

    cheers bernd

  5. Looks good.

    You should include alternatives to YouTube and Flickr (do some research, I know there are alternatives but I don’t know much about them), and add something about Creative Commons-options on mediasharing sites.

  6. @Bernd I know about the black swan theory 😉 Thanks for your comment.

    @Audunmb I know the alternatives. The point is to keep the list people should concentrate on small for maximum impact. Unfortunately nothing beats Flickr and YouTube there. Flickr let’s you license under CC just fine. I’m not sure about YouTube.

  7. Good guide. 🙂

    Haven’t we more or less given up on Digg? I agree its good to get on Digg frontpage if we can, especially if want to reach the Firefox-using Windows user, but it seems to be nearly impossible recently.

  8. @eean thanks 🙂 yes it has become harder to get on digg’s frontpage. But that affects every story you want to get there. Not just free software related stories or technology stories. OTOH every KDE release made frontpage lately afaik. (Thanks to some good networking for example.) It’s all about how you go about it 😉

  9. Really well done, I enjoyed it. Kudos on the simple, yet pretty document graphics — a lot of people try to go overboard designing that, and end up with something that looks like a cross between the horror of 90s HTML-web and the GIMP puking into a PDF.

    Free software is definitely weak when it comes to acknowledging and interacting with social media. I think the biggest problem is the sheer amount of energy it sometimes takes to maintain a social presence within various online networks, especially when their communities don’t overlap much — you can end up feeling halfway-schizophrenic trying to keep up while remaining interesting and approachable. I think your guide will help with that, even if by just providing contexts in which a certain medium is best used (as you did with microblogging).

    That’s a big reason why after the initial boom of MySpace, I’ve abstained from most social networks (except a few that are dear to me, like Well, that and privacy issues. But if it got to be a hassle for me as an individual in such a short time, I can only imagine the hell someone must have to go through to increase awareness for their project and build communities around it.

    Anyways, thanks! I know a few people who could definitely make good use of this.


  10. @maniacmusician Thanks a lot 🙂
    You make a very valid point about the energy it takes. I’ll think about how to integrate that in the next version of the guide.

  11. @Fabian thanks 🙂 I’ll think about putting it into a wiki. You’re the second person to suggest it. Since I am not too big on wiki’s myself I started it as PDF also to make offline reading and so on easier. Let’s see what I can do.

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