bug repellent

a blog by @captainsafia

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Evangelizing for open source

Long-lasting open source projects require a strong community around them. Although communities can emerge organically, project evangelism is a great way to accelerate and sustain community growth. Evangelism (in the technical sense) is the process of building a critical mass of support for a particular open source project. So what things should you keep in mind when outlining an evangelism strategy for your open source project? From my experience, I’ve narrowed it down to four key tips.

Diversify, diversify, diversify

Evangelism can happen online and in real life. Note the and. It’s important to diversify evangelism efforts across both domains. You should try to write blog posts, speak at Meetups or conferences, organize Meetups or conferences, appear on podcasts, make YouTube videos, and so on. All this might sound overwhelming, so I should add that it is best to focus most of your efforts across a digital space and a non-digital space. For example, the project should have an active blog and contributors who speak frequently at conferences and Meetups to cover both domains.

Quality not quantity

When it comes to evangelism strategy, it’s best to have a few high-quality pieces of content as opposed to many relatively low-content pieces. An engaging, shareable blog post is much more likely to attract new users and contributors to the project than multiple, lower-quality blog posts. Not to mention, because of network effects, the impact of that single blog post can be magnified as time progresses and the post is shared more often.

Be kind, always

Evangelism, in the end, is about depicting the project as a friendly and welcoming space. People want to feel like engaging with a particular open source project will be fun and fulfilling. Being kind as you engage with readers, audience members, and anyone else who happens to come across your content can go a long way to increasing project engagement. Kindness is a positive externality. When people see you being kind, even if they are not directly affect by it, their trust and comfort around you (and their engagement with the project) will increase.

Pick a niche

Centering your project’s evangelism strategy around a particular niche makes it easier to create new, unique, and engaging content. Although it’s OK to write with a fresh perspective on common topics, honing in on a particular topic can make it much easier for your project to achieve reputability in a particular domain.

And finally, remember that evangelism is a long process and the returns come slowly but consistently not immediately. Given enough time and dedication, your evangelism strategy is guaranteed to help boost your project’s community.