Open source marketing is like manning an info desk

At the Openismus party in Berlin a few weeks ago, I had some interesting conversations about what marketing for an open source project like GNOME should be. What’s our core message and who are we targeting? (I think the best ideas come from discussions with others who care about the subject. Luckily with open source, everyone is passionate about the projects they work on so I get to have lots of really interesting discussions and hear lots of good ideas. I realized later I always talk shop at open source events. So if you don’t like talking shop, you should probably avoid me at the next open source related party, although you can sidetrack me by talking about kids. 🙂

There was one comment that we all thought was funny and right on. Jos van den Oever observed that marketing for an open source project is like working at an info desk. In a sense that’s true for all companies. Marketing departments give the rest of the world information about the company. But it’s even more true for open source because the marketing project doesn’t set the direction or strategy or even know all the answers. You direct people to the people that have the answers. Or at least that’s what I feel like I’m doing. Getting questions, finding answers, relaying back … like an info desk.

An infodesk model also implies that you are applying less of a slant to your messaging …