What journalists want to know about your free software project
Slashdot gets a lot of press releases and other news about software, including a lot of Free / open source software (our favorite kind). However, very often this news is submitted in ways that make it unlikely that the news will be spread. This presentation looks at why that is, and how it can be fixed, with a laundry list of things to think about, whether a project is brand new or long-established.
Detailed outline about how to get journalist’s attention in talking about software:
A) Explain what it does and what it’s for, and in short words, if it’s not utterly obvious. “Analyzes crop circles for patterns.” “Transparently compares or manipulates text in wildly different file formats to analyze freedom of information act responses.”
B) the competition, and why yours is different: it slices, it dices, it parses, it mixes, but why is LibreBungler better than the existing and widely used OpenBungler? Sometimes the obvious factor is that yours is open source or otherwise advantageously licensed.
C) Speaking of that, what a Free license (or other open source license, if you think Free is the wrong word) brings in the case of your own project. Related: which license, and why, especially if that’s a vital reason for the itch being scratched. KDE v gnome. Openbox fluxbox etc.
D) Maturity. If a project is looking for publicity per se, it’s probably not already the “market leader.” But is it the next best thing, or is it just a small personal project? Is it already used by lots of people, but was previously under a closed license?
D) Who’s using it, and why? Just you, because it’s your baby? Google, because it solves a small problem that crops up 10,000,000 times a day? Everyone who used to use another piece of software until its maintainer committed a horrible crime or it was found to send your data straight to the NSA?
E) Why it’s called what it’s called. One thing this should make everyone think about is how they name or otherwise brand their project. (The GIMP problem .. But other things, too, like Vagrant and brainfuck.)
Names can be widely, whimsical, self deprecating, recursively recursive, but names can have consequences.
F) how is it developed? Just saying it’s “Foss” doesn’t say much. Is it hosted on github? Is it hosted on sourceforge? Is it written in a new language or old, obscure or widespread? Written in perl, but with an interface that’s manipulated by a configuration file anyone can edit to change the look. Do all contributions go through a small team? (The bus factor)
G) requirements, hardware and software.
H) The story. All of the previous line items matter, or at least they might, but they are all potentially answers for the questions “Why does this exist?” and “Why should anyone who doesn’t already know care?”) And if it’s news about an existing project, what’s the new in that news?