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Making an Open Source Project Press-Friendly

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the spreading-the-word dept.

Software 169

blackbearnh writes "Corporations know that part of launching a successful project is projecting the right image to the media. But a lot of open source projects seem to treat the press as an annoyance, if they think about it at all. For a reporter, even finding someone on a project who's willing to talk about it can be a challenge. Esther Schindler over at IT World has a summary of a roundtable discussion that was held at OSCON with pointers about how open source projects can be more reporter-accessible. 'Recognize that we are on deadline, which for most news journalists means posting the article within a couple of hours and for feature authors within a couple of days. If we ask for input, or a quote, or anything to which your project spokesperson (you do have one? yes? please say yes) might want to respond, it generally does mean, "Drop everything and answer us now." If the journalist doesn't give you a deadline ("I need to know by 2pm"), it's okay to ask how long you can take to reach the right developer in Poland, but err on the side of "emergency response." It's unreasonable, I know, but so are our deadlines.'"

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169 comments

Gentoo?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29238047)

I use Gentoo; how does this affect me?

For one thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29238085)

don't do it on Linux. Open source windows 7 will work.

Re:Gentoo?? (4, Funny)

drseuk (824707) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238097)

Can I get back to you in a few days when I've finished building?

FOSS (3, Insightful)

jesset77 (759149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238577)

Most open source projects get no press because most open source developers do not want arbitrary people to use their software.

Arbitrary people using your software means you will get demands for support from people who "Just Don't Get It".

Re:FOSS (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29238597)

lol most open source developers would be happy to have any users at all!

Re:Gentoo?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29238151)

I think you may have been shipped a copy of Snow Leopard by mistake...

Reporters Need A Story (4, Informative)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238093)

The reason most open-source projects get no press is they have neither a story to tell nor a storyteller to tell it. Linux is a good example. There was a story to tell--the story of Linus Torvalds. Windows--always meant telling a story of Bill Gates. Likewise, the Mac story always equates to a Steve Jobs story. Then you have the case of a Gaving King, who never misses a chance to be rude on the forums, who is always irascible--he does his cause no good. If you want good press, you need a story and a messenger.

Usually, poorly communicated in every way (4, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238233)

Another reason most open-source projects get no press is that they are very poorly communicated in every way. An example is LaTeX [wikipedia.org]. It requires two paragraphs in the Wikipedia article to explain just the name.

Another example is GIMP [gimp.org]. One of the meanings of gimp is "cripple".

Another example is UltraVNC [ultravnc.org]. UltraVNC is excellent. The UltraVNC web site is a mess.

The open source experience is often "It's free, but you must spend a very frustrating week learning how to use it." Those who write for publication don't have a week to understand a project, and they don't want to write about something that would frustrate their readers.

Re:Usually, poorly communicated in every way (2, Insightful)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238295)

Excellent points all. It pertains to a larger geek problem: poor communication skills. How many brilliant developers have you met who send emails that sound like they were written by a 4th grader? Too many...

Re:Usually, poorly communicated in every way (3, Insightful)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238625)

"How many brilliant developers have you met who send emails that sound like they were written by a 4th grader? Too many..."

Not a single one. It's true I found a number of bozos that out of their ignorance think they are ununderstood prima donnas that write like 4th graders. But really good professional developers? They all have above-average comunication skills. What of extrange do you find in people able to express difficult concepts in computer languages being able to express simpler concepts in natural languages too?

Re:Usually, poorly communicated in every way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29240603)

What of extrange do you find in people able to express difficult concepts in computer languages being able to express simpler concepts in natural languages too?

Good question. Fourty-two I think.

Re:Usually, poorly communicated in every way (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239245)

That's true of a lot of tech stuff in general. What the hell is going on at the Oracle [oracle.com] website, for example? About 40 links to some random downloads, middleware, etc.; impossible to find anything if you didn't already know exactly what you wanted.

Re:Usually, poorly communicated in every way (2, Insightful)

jgrahn (181062) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240739)

Another reason most open-source projects get no press is that they are very poorly communicated in every way. An example is LaTeX. It requires two paragraphs in the Wikipedia article to explain just the name.

It's a word-play on TeX, on which it is based, and it also inherits its purposely silly pronounciation and typography. Surely, that's all that needs to be said? I don't mind that the Wikipedia article provides more background, though.

[...] The open source experience is often "It's free, but you must spend a very frustrating week learning how to use it." Those who write for publication don't have a week to understand a project, and they don't want to write about something that would frustrate their readers

Isn't that the case for every piece of software except maybe Microsoft Word? And should people stop working on advanced software so that the people who read the glossies don't have to be frustrated by articles which don't get written anyway, because the frustrated journalists don't have a week to spare to understand it?

Re:Reporters Need A Story (1)

seifried (12921) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239637)

I completely disagree. Linux is the archetype David vs. Goliath (aka "challenge") story. What makes it even better is Microsoft itself was once a David playing with Goliath (IBM). Empire creation and decline make for fascinating tales.

On a more recent note there are tons of stories about Linux (hint: there's about a half dozen English language Linux magazines publishing monthly). You have to remember, reporters usually look for stories, stories looking for reporters often mean someone has an axe to grind, which can make for good press sometimes but not always (whistle blower stories being one huge exception, must of us looooove muck raking and outing naughty people). I never have a shortage of stuff to write (my emergency list for Linux related story ideas in case I get writers block or something is about 20 entries, and that took about half an hour to jot down).

I think the real reason the mainstream press doesn't cover Open Source much is they flat out aren't that familiar with it. You tell a reporter that Apple runs on Open Source, or that their favorite website is largely Open Source powered and they'll probably grunt. Remember: these people generally took journalism in college/university, not a tech related degree.

Reporters aren't the only one with deadlines (5, Insightful)

dark_requiem (806308) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238103)

Simply put, FOSS developers usually fall into one of two categories: hackers coding in their spare time and those who work on FOSS projects as part of their job. Those in the former category likely have day jobs, and are already short on time. They do this as a hobby, and if their spare time is spent coding, they don't necessarily have spare time to devote to commenting for reporters. The latter category is contributing code as part of their job. They likely don't have the authority to comment on the record regarding their work, or they have to get permission from the marketing trolls to do so. Either way, if you're getting a response, it's not likely to be quick.

The lesson here is plan ahead. As soon as you know you're going to be working on a story, start asking for comments. If you wait until the last second, you're likely to not get a reply. Yes, reporters can get short deadlines, but you can't expect volunteers contributing their spare time to jump at your say-so, and you have to allow time to get the corporate wheels rolling in the latter case.

Re:Reporters aren't the only one with deadlines (2, Informative)

2muchcoffeeman (573484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238393)

The lesson here is plan ahead. As soon as you know you're going to be working on a story, start asking for comments. If you wait until the last second, you're likely to not get a reply. Yes, reporters can get short deadlines, but you can't expect volunteers contributing their spare time to jump at your say-so, and you have to allow time to get the corporate wheels rolling in the latter case.

A lot of reporters aren't given the luxury of oodles of extra time by their assigning editors and those editors expect results, not requests for more time because "they have to get the corporate wheels rolling over there." The reporter might have hours from the time it's assigned to the deadline for turning it in ... and to some people outside of and ignorant of the writing/editing/publishing process, that short amount of time can be misinterpreted as "waiting until the last second." It's not. It's the nature of the beast.

Re:Reporters aren't the only one with deadlines (2, Insightful)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238631)

"A lot of reporters aren't given the luxury of oodles of extra time by their assigning editors and those editors expect results, not requests for more time because "they have to get the corporate wheels rolling over there." "

Then it is the reporter the one with a problem, not the happy hacker or the professional developer paid to do different things than attend the press. When somebody has a problem is both good education and proper path to resolve it to take himself the path to its solution, not trying to pass the problem to other that neither ask for them nor will feel the result one way or the other.

Re:Reporters aren't the only one with deadlines (2, Insightful)

2muchcoffeeman (573484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238651)

In that case, I have no option but to finish the assigned article as best I can within the deadline given by my editor. That may mean that somebody's getting left out of the article. That is also the nature of the beast.

Re:Reporters aren't the only one with deadlines (2, Informative)

maharb (1534501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238835)

If you want information fast then ask the people that stand to benefit from the article, you will be much more likely to get a quick response. If you think you can contact a random developer or coder and get a response fast you are batshit crazy. Developers have enough to do and the last thing they are worried about is making sure some reporter is going to meet a insanely short deadline when they don't get any direct benefit. The reality is that reporters should not expect anyone to bend over for them. Warn the parties you want information from in advance or suffer the consequences. If you aren't given warning then that is still your problem, don't try and push it on someone else other than those who gave the short deadline. The article is a reflection of the reporter and thus it is no one else is responsible to ensure its quality.

Re:Reporters aren't the only one with deadlines (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238953)

"In that case, I have no option but to finish the assigned article as best I can within the deadline given by my editor."

Your choice, of course.

"That may mean that somebody's getting left out of the article. That is also the nature of the beast."

That may mean the due to both your ignorance and your hurryness your article will be an utter nonsense. On one hand, I may prefer not being relationed with such abhorrence; in the other me and a lot of others may take some fun laughing at a slower pace at your ignorance and inconsistences as you yourself can guest in places like, right here, Slashdot, when put on your place. That is also the nature of the beast.

Re:Reporters aren't the only one with deadlines (3, Informative)

2muchcoffeeman (573484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239351)

There'll be a graf that says "Representatives of (ORGANIZATION NAME) did not return a request for comment" or a phrase to that effect. The effort to make contact was made; for reasons out of my control, it was not successful. My editor gave me a set amount of time; the sand in the hourglass ran out. There's nothing I can do about that. And there's a lot less of that time in the 24/7 online news cycle than there was in the printed media news cycle when the presses rolled at midnight.

If you want me to have fuller information, please answer my phone call or e-mail. Or, as suggested elsewhere, if you don't have time then designate somebody as your press representative and tell him/her to return my phone call when it comes ... and also tell him/her to register with Peter Shankman's Help A Reporter Out [helpareporter.com] initiative. Or, as suggested in Ms. Schindler's IT World article, create a /press page or section on your Web site like the big companies do. There you should have information about what your project is about, why you think it matters, its current status, who to contact for more information, screen shots (please remember that print media require high-resolution versions of screen shots or other images for the printing press), press releases and other mentions in the media. (That's not the same as an FAQ and I won't quote an FAQ. I want to hear from the people behind the project what they're doing and why they're doing it. People make news stories interesting. There's a human angle to everything.)

Use plain language, not jargon. If you translate that page into a foreign language, have someone fluent in the language (preferably it's his/her native language) double-check your work. If it's a bad translation, it reflects badly on you. I've lost count of how many foreign businesses have an English press kit that reads as though a fourth-grader wrote it up and I have no doubt that many businesses from English-speaking countries have non-English press material that is equally poorly translated.

Ms. Schindler's Care and Feeding of the Press [netpress.org] is excellent. Everyone trying to get press coverage should read it -- hell, I've dealt with public/media relations professionals who could learn a lot about doing their jobs from reading that -- and a lot of people who don't currently think they need press coverage might want to take a look at that, too. In many cases, the information that reporters are looking for is precisely the same information developers and end users are looking for.

Ms. Schindler makes a solid point on the second page: "(Y)ou've gone deep with your project, and I haven't. I may not be familiar with the problem that it aims to solve. So tell me about it."

Re:Reporters aren't the only one with deadlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29239463)

And there's a lot less of that time in the 24/7 online news cycle than there was in the printed media news cycle when the presses rolled at midnight.

When the presses roll at midnight, the story is written and you can't change it before everyone reads it. If the developer responds two hours after you post the story online, update the story.

Re:Reporters aren't the only one with deadlines (1)

2muchcoffeeman (573484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239533)

And in the meantime, it's still sitting out there for two hours without your input. And I will probably be working on something else with an equally-tight deadline at that point, too.

Of course, if it's past the end of my workday and my co-workers can't reach me, I may not be able to get back to you until tomorrow morning.

Believe me, I'll move heaven and earth to get in touch with you before the story's due but if I'm doing that, please appreciate what I'm trying to do and what constraints I may be under.

Re:Reporters aren't the only one with deadlines (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240335)

Case in point: Articles on the SCO appeal are often ill-informed about the viability of SCO's claims, since they spend no time talking to open-source dev's and all time listening to SCO upper-management bitch.

Re:Reporters aren't the only one with deadlines (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239721)

"A lot of reporters aren't given the luxury of oodles of extra time by their assigning editors and those editors expect results, not requests for more time because "they have to get the corporate wheels rolling over there." "

Then it is the reporter the one with a problem, not the happy hacker or the professional developer paid to do different things than attend the press.

I couldn't agree more. Half the skill of actual reporting is knowing who you can talk to in order to get a quick reply, and in some cases, knowing how to get any reply at all. That means maintaining a long list of contacts, being a total gossip-monger (having something to interesting to tell others is a great way to get them to open up) and always always always having enough information before you ask for comment to write about the topic anyway.

That last one is incredibly important. I produce about 2000 words a week for publication, and even with people I've dealt with dozens of times in the past, only a few of them are prepared to offer a relevant statement at the drop of a hat. If you can't ask the right question, you'll never get a useful answer. That usually means not asking questions that will take days or weeks to answer. (If you're really good, you'll have already had the necessary conversation with the right people, so you can just call them up and ask for a quote on the subject for attribution.)

And while I'm venting: I find spokesmen the most difficult to deal with. Their job is to protect their organisation's reputation, and that often makes them more defensive and less willing to be candid than their bosses might actually want. It's not really their fault, but they rarely have anything interesting - let alone newsworthy - to say, and they're often not qualified to talk at a level of detail that's useful. Nowhere is this more true than geek topics.

To make things worse, their role makes them almost completely incapable of speaking spontaneously. Every question results in a 'Let me check and get back to you on that.' That's the last thing anyone wants to hear when the deadline is looming.

Nope, I think the panel should have been about how reporters could integrate better into the geek community rather than a round of admonitions to play the game 'the right way'.

The Beast and His nature (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239281)

Is this why you guys tend to just regurgitate the top hit on google? If so you are missing a lot because that stuff is dynamically generated by quote engines like Enderle. They quote themselves and syndicate the article with a permuter to give discrete but similar results in seconds. This gives them high visibility because the google engine doesn't recognize synonyms as the same text and so the permutations seem to be discrete articles. This raises an article to the top spot for long enough to pwn you.

seriously, are you guys pets?

Re:Reporters aren't the only one with deadlines (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239745)

And people wonder why the "traditional media" is failing?

Unless there is sudden news to report on, you must take enough time to gather good information (or at least due diligence). By "sudden" I mean: something unexpected has come up today, and absolutely must be in the news/paper tonight/tomorrow or it will be stale. Most open source related news won't qualify as sudden (from my layman's perspective). If you don't have enough time, then your boss is killing your company. (It's called "foresight". It's important, really.) It's only "the nature of the beast" if said beast has been lobotomized.

Re:Reporters aren't the only one with deadlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29239789)

A lot of reporters aren't given the luxury of oodles of extra time

I want a story researched for MONTHS before it gets written, unless it's about something that just happened, such as "Ted Kennedy died." If you or your editor are not willing to do that, I'd rather the story didn't get written than see a story in print that you took a day to get a bunch of quotes, try to understand it and put it context, then write something hurriedly.

So you're just going to write something hurriedly anyway? Well, that's why I don't give a shit if the newspaper business dies. No information > wildly inaccurate information.

No silver platters either (2, Insightful)

xzvf (924443) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238431)

I think most "journalist" are so busy and have such tight deadlines, that they over rely on people that are paid to speak to the press. Open source, by its nature is a low-cost, high quality grass-roots effort. Even the most successful FOSS companies are tiny and have tighter margins than the for profits. Free software is customer driven (requested not sold) and doesn't have the money or staff to generate press releases or provide a pretty marketing type to spoon feed a story.

Re:Reporters aren't the only one with deadlines (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238781)

The lesson here is plan ahead.

Yes. Put up a page with lots of clear descriptions of what you are, where you're going, what you're currently doing, who's involved, etc. Try to minimize the amount of personal interaction needed to quickly get a vague understanding of the project. Have a clear place to go to see your collective reactions to recent events, and keep it updated in absurd (but clear and easily searchable/accessible) detail.

Or if that's too hard, just find a way to edit the "news" industry to be more about in-depth content and less about "First Post!" so that by the time you do attract media attention the reporters will have longer deadlines and be able to be more respectful of your time.

Re:Reporters aren't the only one with deadlines (2, Insightful)

tech10171968 (955149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239435)

I have another theory why devs sometimes don't "drop everything" for an interview; if developers are anything like electronic engineering technicians (my specialty) then, when they're in the middle of an issue, they are on this creative and/or logical train of thought. I can tell you from personal experience that the last thing a tech wants is to have that train of thought disturbed; I tend to become rather curt if I'm disturbed in the middle of, say, dealing with some inverse Fourier transform or (especially!!!) troubleshooting a critical system. It's almost like bugging a brain surgeon in the middle of an operation; sometimes you'll stand a good chance of throwing him off track, even if only temporarily. It's not that I'm naturally rude (I usually end up feeling like a real jackass for being rude and wind up apologizing anyway); it's just that the interruption can be annoying if you're in the middle of an intensive task. Don't get me wrong, I'm not justifying the lack of communication. I'm simply stating what I believe (in my experience) to be part of the reason for that lack of communication.

It's all about the money (1)

elsJake (1129889) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238105)

>> Corporations know that part of launching a successful project is projecting the right image to the media. Large corporations pay to get media coverage , and if they don't , some journalists tend to write about certain corporations they have stocks in. I doubt they'd write much even if the developers did their job for them.

Re:It's all about the money (2, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238551)

some journalists tend to write about certain corporations they have stocks in.

I don't doubt that what you say is true, but I'd like to point out for the people who will inevitably take your statement as gospel that this practice is generally regarded as a breach of journalistic ethics. The New York Times company, for example specifically prohibits [nytco.com] journalists who cover business stories from playing the market.

The trade press is less stringent about such things, but good journalists everywhere are well aware of financial conflicts in their reporting and take steps to mitigate such. Some tech reporters I know choose not to invest in any technology stocks. I myself own no individual stocks in any tech companies, though I do hold some mutual funds which may or may not contain such stocks. I invest based solely on the performance of the fund and make no particular effort to find out what specific companies may be represented.

As with any field, there are always a few bad apples.

What if the speakerperson is a prick? (2, Funny)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238129)

I know from experience that some of the voices on the open source movement can be really difficult to deal with (yes, RMS, I'm looking at you). So, what to do in this case? Hide them under a rock?

Re:What if the speakerperson is a prick? (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239769)

I know from experience that some of the voices on the open source movement can be really difficult to deal with (yes, RMS, I'm looking at you). So, what to do in this case? Hide them under a rock?

Look at the things they've said in the past. In most cases, you'll be able to dig up something relevant. The Internet is kind of cool that way. Call them and repeat the quote, then ask, "Does this [still] apply?" If the person says yes, you can ask them if they have anything to add. If they say no, ask them to explain what's changed. If they never reply, use the quote to indicate what they've said about the topic in the past.

Re:What if the speakerperson is a prick? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240147)

use the quote to indicate what they've said about the topic in the past.

And of course, don't forget to say that they "declined to comment when asked if this still applied." Not only is it true, it's almost guaranteed to give everybody the wrong impression and generate letters to the editor (or blog comments, or whatever) and it's hard to see the downside to that.

Re:What if the speakerperson is a prick? (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240375)

That won't fly if you put a picture of RMS in the paper -- he's visibly not the lawyer type.

It's not an emergency (4, Insightful)

harmonise (1484057) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238173)

It's unreasonable, I know, but so are our deadlines.

Then fix your deadlines. Use proper planning and communication. This "drop everything now and focus on me" attitude doesn't really work well inside of companies and certainly won't work well when you want something from some else outside of your company.

Re:It's not an emergency (3, Interesting)

2muchcoffeeman (573484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238419)

No, it's not an emergency ... but I just got this assignment five minutes ago and I have to have it done in three hours because my boss said to have it done in three hours so he can put in on the web in three hours and 15 minutes and because he's planning to drop something else on my desk in three hours and five minutes. Man, I don't have an option here. Can you help me, please?

Re:It's not an emergency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29238515)

You appear to be searching for the word "parallelize". HTH

Re:It's not an emergency (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29238819)

If you are getting assignments on that short of notice, you should know the field you are reporting well enough and be actively following it closely enough to have completed your research before getting the assignment. It is simply impossible to write a good article in that short of time, and by attempting to do so you are only going to misrepresent the issues at hand.

And if you're just going to be pumping out trash articles with no research, many of us would prefer to not be written about at all.

Re:It's not an emergency (1)

2muchcoffeeman (573484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239383)

If you are getting assignments on that short of notice, you should know the field you are reporting well enough and be actively following it closely enough to have completed your research before getting the assignment.

Some reporters have that luxury. Others are more generalists and deal with a variety of topics. They don't have that luxury. For that matter, even the specialists can't be aware of everything.

Like Ms. Schindler said, "(Y)ou've gone deep with your project, and I haven't. I may not be familiar with the problem that it aims to solve. So tell me about it."

Re:It's not an emergency (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239899)

A vast majority of Open Source projects really need a tech oriented reporter. Others need time for the reporter to acclimate. It's that simple. Unless there is a sizable company behind the project, there is no way in the world a general reporter is going to be fair and accurate (emphasis on accurate). You might as well be writing about non-Euclidean geometry or M-theory.

Re:It's not an emergency (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239847)

I think you meant "most".

(Why doesn't Slashdot support the "strike" tag?!?)

Re:It's not an emergency (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240411)

(Why doesn't Slashdot support the "strike" tag?!?)

Said tags (there are in fact two such tags) are deprecated. But apparently /. doesn't like CSS either. So you're screwed. Oh well.

Re:It's not an emergency (3, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238451)

When a reporter is dealing with a company, there is generally an information gatekeeper: either an internal PR department or an outside agency hired for the purpose. Even if you know an employee at a given company personally, usually they are not empowered to talk to the press directly without first consulting with their PR team.

This can be a drag because it means reporters are typically subjected to the usual bland, spoon-fed sing-song about how great and wonderful everything at the company is. But on the plus side it means you have a contact to talk to.

If I shoot an email to Waggener-Edstrom asking about something Microsoft is doing, I will probably get a response back within 24 hours, and often more quickly than that. The PR people will ask me the basic questions: Why do you want to know what you are asking, where is it going to be published, what is your deadline? And from then on, it will be their job to ferret out the right person to answer my questions, and if they deem that the good press I stand to give Microsoft will be valuable enough, they will take it upon themselves to pester that person into answering my questions in a timely fashion.

Obviously, this type of thing is fairly infeasible with many open source projects, why is why it's valuable to have this discussion about how to make open source projects more accessible to the press.

As a member of the press, I certainly can't make you, an open source developer, "drop everything now and focus on me." It will never surprise me in the slightest if you choose to ignore me completely -- a lot of big companies do that, too. But on the other hand, there are a lot of small companies with products already shipping who would absolutely kill for the chance to talk to me, just to get their names in print -- and often, I just don't have time for them.

It's all a matter of perspectives. Does it make sense for your open source project to get some good press coverage? If no, then my press inquiries are no burden to you. If yes, then is it reasonable to complain about the way in which the opportunities to gain press coverage present themselves? It's not like I'm asking you if I can borrow twenty bucks; I'm offering you what you want. If you don't have time or can't be bothered to take me up on my offer, then maybe it's your process that needs to be modified somehow, not mine (or those of the various publications which I may represent).

Just a thought.

Re:It's not an emergency (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240071)

An interesting perspective. It's wrong (my opinion), but valuable.

Open Source projects rarely have unforeseen newsworthy stories. A vast majority of the time, it can either wait a few days (filler material), or you should have started asking several days before the event. (An Open Source project released a new version? Oh, my! We didn't see that coming! They didn't even have a release candidate or two or three. What's a changelog?)

Programming is relatively slow, methodical work. Programmers rarely have a get-things-done-right-this-moment mindset. To make matters worse, interruptions cost time twice: once to deal with the interruption, and once to figure out exactly what they were doing before you interrupted them. A series of interruptions can quickly become a bad day. Can you see why a programmer might want to deal with a reporter when he gets around to it? (read: is no longer concentrating on code) (leads to unanswered calls and unchecked email.)

Unless there is a company behind the project (a monetary incentive), few projects are going to have a drop-whatever-you're-doing attitude favoring reporters (and most of those companies have designated PR people). If you want something that even approximates a timely response, you'll need to give your what/why/for-whom/deadline tuple right upfront. Consider asking your IT people what they know (you may be surprised, or horrified), but don't take their word for it. Ask them to point you to a good resource.

Re:It's not an emergency (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239081)

Then fix your deadlines. Use proper planning and communication. This "drop everything now and focus on me" attitude doesn't really work well inside of companies and certainly won't work well when you want something from some else outside of your company.

I would like to say the same thing to the makers of the open source projects.

annoyance (4, Insightful)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238207)

it generally does mean, "Drop everything and answer us now."

...and reporters wonder why we're not delighted to hear from them. One of the nice features of the open-source world is that projects become popular because they're good at what they do, rather than by shouting louder than anyone else. In such a world, press attention is less important. Which is fortunate, given the low quality of so much IT reporting (just because you can copy-paste the press release, doesn't mean you should).

Re:annoyance (2, Insightful)

osadmin (1626991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238279)

One of the nice features of the open-source world is that projects become popular because they're good at what they do

Most Open Source projects aren't around to make the authors money or fame. They're there to get the job done. If they do that job well, like you stated they will gain popularity. That's one of the best features of open source; the best product wins, not the most marketed one.

Re:annoyance (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29238519)

"just because you can copy-paste the press release, doesn't mean you should"

If you don't talk to them, what the fuck else are they supposed to do? Make shit up? You'd bitch about that. Ask someone who doesn't know anything? You'd bitch about that. Research something they don't understand, then report it incorrectly? You'd bitch about that.

What the fuck do you nerds want?

Re:annoyance (1, Insightful)

greenbird (859670) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238743)

If you don't talk to them, what the fuck else are they supposed to do?

I would think they would actually do some research to get their story. You know, reporting. I know that no longer exists in this day and age but one can reminisce about the days when reporters actually did their job.

Make shit up? You'd bitch about that. Ask someone who doesn't know anything? You'd bitch about that.

This is the primary methodology used by the modern reporter. Look it up on Wikipedia, call a few random people and then either make something up based on misinformation or even print the press release almost verbatim.

Research something they don't understand, then report it incorrectly? You'd bitch about that.

Damn. I thought researching something that wasn't well understood was the whole point of reporting. To get the facts about something and then print those facts as a coherent story. I guess in your world reporters only report on things they and everyone else fully understands already?

What the fuck do you nerds want?

Yeah, imagine the nerve of those nerds expecting reporters to actually have to do a little work to get their story. The story should be provided in a clear coherent easily understood format by subject of the story. You know, like a press release. That way the reporter can just change a few words and then print it.

And main stream news organizations wonder why they're failing. They quit doing reporting years ago. I gave up getting on reliable information from them even longer ago.

Re:annoyance (1)

2muchcoffeeman (573484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239467)

I would think they would actually do some research to get their story. You know, reporting. I know that no longer exists in this day and age but one can reminisce about the days when reporters actually did their job.

The single most important tool a reporter has for that job is the telephone. If you've already put that information out in a clear, concise format, that's a good starting point. But I still want to talk to you, or to somebody like you. Without that interview, there's no story to be told.

Re:annoyance (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240441)

The bug report should be provided in a clear coherent easily understood format by the reporter [despite the fact that the "nerds" are the ones who fucked up, assuming the report is real].

There, fixed that for you.

Re:annoyance (1)

celle (906675) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239015)

How about reporting the truth that you couldn't get anything. Damn reporters are getting as bad as advertisers. Tell the public the truth and face you couldn't get anything. This isn't a give and take deal. If you weren't requested to report by the project or aren't willing to placate to those you are getting free info from to better your career then buzz off!

Re:annoyance (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239797)

What the fuck do you nerds want?

To talk to someone clueful enough that they don't make crass generalisations like that one.

Re:annoyance (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239901)

what the fuck else are they supposed to do? Make shit up?

How about they write about things they know or else save their damn ink and write nothing at all. It is not my problem that they cannot be bothered to learn the sort of expert knowledge required to write intelligently about IT. Besides, who wants to read their bullshit trade-rag packed to the gills with advertising and PR "press hits" (i.e. article length stealth ads) masquerading as articles? Not me, thanks.

Journalism (0, Redundant)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238241)

Just as suspected, good part of journalism is ADD hack jobs. And they wonder why papers are dying.

Choose a decent name... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29238267)

Don't be a sheep and call it KWhatever or GSomething if it's for KDE or Gnome. That's the biggest lamer thing you could do. Choose a real name.

Pick a cool name (1)

sir_eccles (1235902) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238299)

With a recursive acronym that spells something that sounds like a euphemism or is impossible to pronounce.

Really, no. (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238329)

Rephrase your changelist as a press release that's buzzword compliant. Include some developer quotes and some user praise. Most of the IT press will submit it as is, some with a minor rewrite to file the serial numbers off and pass it off as their own work.

If they WANT the attention... (1)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238331)

...open source SABDFLs can definitely take a lesson from other industries where vying for media attention is pretty competitive. You put a big link on your website that says "Trade and Media" or "Press Kits" and then you put Screenshots, Videos, High-res photos of those contributing to the project (not 1"x1" blurry crop from a team photo taken at your workplace). Put together a list of websites you'll be updating every time you release a new version. Ask your community members to make PDF flyers and other materials available for volunteers to print and hand out.

Looking from the other POV, I doubt most open source developers will care about this stuff. It's like eating glass for them, and a huge number of open source projects are pure hobby. A magazine picks up your software and says, "WHOA, this could be really cool," but maybe the last thing you want is more pressure in your life. If that's the case, I recommend being VERY open about your standpoint. If you want to do it your way or the highway, be even MORE open about it. People tend to get really pissed when they contribute many, many lines of code to your project and never see their work merged in. Likewise with people creating icons, splash screens, documentation, project website mockups, videos, etc. There are some very prominent open source projects that are embarrassingly backward in this regard.

Annoyances... (5, Insightful)

giminy (94188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238335)

The summarizer says:

But a lot of open source projects seem to treat the press as an annoyance...

And the press-person says:

'...it generally does mean, "Drop everything and answer us now." If the journalist doesn't give you a deadline ("I need to know by 2pm"), it's okay to ask how long you can take to reach the right developer in Poland, but err on the side of "emergency response." It's unreasonable, I know, but so are our deadlines.'

Wow, I can't imagine why volunteer developers consider the press an annoyance. Maybe the press should cut back on the 30-second deadline and take some time to actually get facts, instead of getting something out the door now, even if it isn't right. I think that journalists with this attitude are probably in the wrong business -- you should be doing research and finding the story, not demanding that a non-storyteller drops what they're doing to give you the story on a silver platter. Software only appears to move quickly...in reality, businesses are slow to adopt new software these days. Taking the time to do thorough research on an open source project will not kill the press, just like waiting a few weeks for a story on a software project will not kill the software project.

Me, I would prefer to read the right story than the first story. I wish that the press' job to make sure that the right story is the first story...but that shall continue to be my wish.

Pick a reasonable name, for fuck's sake! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29238361)

Names like "the gimp" are decidedly press UNFRIENDLY.

Re:Pick a reasonable name, for fuck's sake! (2, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238757)

This is a recurring theme and everybody likes to bitch about the names of open source projects. However, as a member of the press, I'd like to chime in -- just this once -- and say that if an open source project made enough of a difference to anybody, I wouldn't care if it was called the GIMP or KBoner, and neither would my editors.

If Megan Fox walked up to you and said, "Hi, my name is Yakspit Cox-Feces," would it make much of a difference to you? If anything, I figure it would make it an even better story...

Re:Pick a reasonable name, for fuck's sake! (2, Insightful)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238883)

If Megan Fox walked up to you and said, "Hi, my name is Yakspit Cox-Feces," would it make much of a difference to you? If anything, I figure it would make it an even better story...

But that's not her name. In fact, of all the pretty girls out there, she's the one we're talking about, and her name is "Fox".

Just sayin'.

Other press friendly methods (4, Insightful)

improfane (855034) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238423)

Is anyone else struggling to find the actual article? My CPU and fans went crazy on the actual article.

If you ask me, open source projects need to do these to appeal to the outside world:

  • Treat the project like an actual marketable product, look at UltraVNC homepage [uvnc.com] It's delicious, you'd almost expect that you would have to purchase it. The author is obviously passionate about all these features. The download page even has videos for parts of the product!
  • Naturally, put lots of beautiful screenshots and videos
  • Advertize open developer chats to get user feedback. Maybe a moderated IRC channel which could then be turned into an interview on the website.
  • Create narrated videos with Wink. Take a look at some o
  • Using Mozilla's Press Center as a guide, I found the following:
    • A dedicated press email address. You could set up an email address that autosubmits to your bug or issue tracker I reckon.
    • Links to all closely related communities, like Mozillazine, Foxiewire and For the Record. Anything that expresses 'community support' to a journalist will be juicy!
    • There's a list of rewards and awards down the right side. This kind of thing is quoted by magazines, stuff like 'worlds most secure browser', of course you need reviews first.
  • User testimonials. Look at OpenVPN [openvpn.net].
  • Have a section called 'Community' and link to the IRC channel, mailing list and web forums.
  • KDE has a section called 'KDE for your business [kde.org]'. It is explicitly trying to sell KDE to users by suggesting success stories of real people
  • Impress businessy types makes me go cool. [sugarcrm.com]

If you want support from everyday people, you have to sell them the idea.

Re:Other press friendly methods (2, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238629)

Believe it or not, some of us are in it purely for fun and have little interest wasting time that could be spent coding (having fun) doing things like making "snappy" websites or accomidating pushy reporters.

People seem to think that open source developers are obligated to dedicate their resources doing things to make their projects more "commercial-ish" when they really are not and oftentimes have absolutely no desire to do so.

Of course...but (1)

improfane (855034) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240627)

That's fine enough, especially for projects where the people with a vested interest in the project are geeks or developers already.

However if you really want your project to be accepted you have to make an effort to make it accessible to business. The real world runs on time, not love of coding.

The Cathedral and the Bazaar [wikipedia.org] is a particularly interesting essay that is pertinent. Essentially, Linux could be argued more popular today because of its openness and sellability. Read Linus' Linux announcement [linux.org], it's so full of energy and approachability and it's COMPLETELY newsworthy for any press. Like 'Student takes on Microsoft'.

I love open source because it lets me do things I am incapable of and if it were not for well designed project pages, they would still be dead to me.

Publicity + accessibility = more users + more contributions

Your project will garner support if you put some initial effort into it. I wonder how many OSS coders think they're god's gift to the earth and feel that any time besides coding is a waste of time...

Re:Other press friendly methods (3, Insightful)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239659)

Treat the project like an actual marketable product, look at UltraVNC homepage [uvnc.com] It's delicious, you'd almost expect that you would have to purchase it.

Almost? It triggered that same revulsion I get at malware sites.

You know what? (1)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238481)

"Drop everything and answer us now." - As others have pointed out, this is not a great attitude if you're concerned that you're being treated as an annoyance. Your average open-source coder enjoys coding, and probably doesn't really enjoy talking to you, especially if you're taking this attitude.

"If the journalist doesn't give you a deadline ('I need to know by 2pm'), it's okay to ask how long you can take to reach the right developer in Poland, but err on the side of 'emergency response.' It's unreasonable, I know, but so are our deadlines." - Don't do this. Err on the side of the truth, as any real journalist ought to be asking you to. Getting an accurate story is more important then getting a prompt story - the total story output will in the end average the same amount but higher quality. This "err on the side of speed over truth" attitude is exactly what's wrong with the media today, and any thinking person should do everything in their power to discourage it. If you're going to miss your deadline because it takes too long to get the truth, then the deadline is wrong.

Of course if you're really desperate for the media attention you may have to do undesirable things to get it, but think carefully before you do.

Re:You know what? (1)

celle (906675) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239095)

"total story output will in the end average the same amount but higher quality. This "err on the side of speed over truth" attitude is exactly what's wrong with the media today, and any thinking person should do everything in their power to discourage it. If you're going to miss your deadline because it takes too long to get the truth, then the deadline is wrong."

Here, here, author, author!!

Re:You know what? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239521)

Of course if you're really desperate for the media attention you may have to do undesirable things to get it, but think carefully before you do.

It's called quid pro quo and it's the way of the world. These people are writing on a deadline, and if they're going to make sense of your project they're going to need some help. It doesn't take you long to explain it to them. Before they put this Hispanic reporter with my name on the web you could find me quoted all over the place because I answer my email. You still can, if you look around...

Who cares? (1)

biot (12537) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238785)

Why would the people in an open source project waste their time talking to the press to begin with? It's about the code, and scratching an itch, etc. If a journalist wants to know something about the project, he can just look at the website like everybody else.

An open source project is NOT a corporation, and PR is irrelevant.

Missing the point... (1)

da cog (531643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238787)

Many of you here seem to be missing the point. The assumption here is that you WANT to have your project be publicized positively via some media outlet, in which case it is important to understand the conditions under which reporters are operating. If you really don't care whether the press writes about your project or what they say about it, then the advice in this story is not for you and you should feel free to ignore it.

In short, if you don't feel like doing the press any favors, then fine, you are certainly under no obligation to do so, and I doubt that they will think personally less of you for it; just don't expect them to bother about you in return.

Re:Missing the point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29239367)

Glad someone said it.

It's amazing how many people here seem to talk about the "Year of the Linux Desktop" and then, when someone gives tips on how to get the press (and by extension the rest of the world) interested and able to talk about your open source project, everyone goes off about how it's all about the code, or about how reporters should change the way that they do business, just to make themselves happy.

If I walked up to a Linux developer and said, "I know how Windows works. Windows is awesome. Make Linux work like Windows." you'd probably tell me that's not how things work, and that I should leave you alone (in varying degrees of politeness...)

Now, the developers are going to the press and in effect saying, "I don't like how you guys do things. Change the way that you do business to fit the way that I want to talk to you." The press system works like it does; you can either ignore it or deal with it; but it won't change just because your open source project refuses to play by their rules.

maybe this is why the newsmedia is going bankrupt (0, Redundant)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238799)

'Recognize that we are on deadline, which for most news journalists means posting the article within a couple of hours and for feature authors within a couple of days. If we ask for input, or a quote, or anything to which your project spokesperson (you do have one? yes? please say yes) might want to respond, it generally does mean, "Drop everything and answer us now." If the journalist doesn't give you a deadline ("I need to know by 2pm"), it's okay to ask how long you can take to reach the right developer in Poland, but err on the side of "emergency response." It's unreasonable, I know, but so are our deadlines.'"

And people in the news media wonder why they are losing their audience. Maybe it is because they are more concerned with getting a "story" (any story) out by deadline then they are with getting the facts right.

I wonder... (1)

PrimaryConsult (1546585) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239295)

What possible open source developments could be so amazing that getting the story out "first" or "with up to the minute coverage" would have any benefit (to either the project or the news outlet) that is greater than the benefit of getting a well rounded response after waiting a day or two...

As a tech writer here's what we want: (3, Informative)

seifried (12921) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239587)

1) Have a sane contact us page. Seriously. Not some web form with a pull down menu to select what this inquiry is related to. But an actual list of functions and associated contact data (email minimally, phone is more corporate and I wouldn't expect that of an open source project). Why email? So I have a record of what I sent, otherwise I have random emails showing up from half remembered projects/vendors. If you make it hard for me to contact you I won't. For many projects that are small having the head guys email address listed works well too.

2) Have a press@ email address, much like abuse@, security@, etc. this is a pretty sane default and leaves very little question as to whom to send email when you're looking for a press contact. It can be a redirect, I don't mind emailing press@ and getting a response from someguy@, if he quotes the subject line I won't have any trouble figuring it out. If you make it hard for me to contact you I won't. It bears repeating.

3) (to the mental image of a sweaty Steve Ballmer acting like a deranged gorilla) "Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines!". If it's a press article for a newspaper the author is lucky if they have 2-3 hours to research this time and get it in. You may want to consider having press@ be an alias to multiple people in different timezones. The quicker you respond the less likely I am to write you out of my article or downplay your role.

4) Don't treat me like a sales prospect or try to sell me stuff I'm not buying, I've got a deadline to meet. Be upfront and honest, most reporters/writers can smell bullshit a mile away (or at least they should be able to, I would say bullshit detection is a core competency for writers/reporters). Perfect example: interesting network traffic analysis product, I contact the vendor, they say it's Windows only I say thanks and move on (article is for Linux Magazine Pro). They don't get any press coverage, but they do get remembered for not wasting my time. The next time I'm writing about network traffic analysis on Windows I'll contact them first since I know they play well with others. Reporters/writers have long memories (we keep notes); if you jerk us around we will never, ever, ever write anything positive about you. Ever.

5) Don't be afraid to go beyond answering our questions a bit, if I was a complete expert in the topic I'm asking you about I wouldnâ(TM)t be emailing you now would I? Interesting back stories, info, related data, this is all golden ("What do you mean you're the only vendor that has a syscall proxy? What the heck is a syscall proxy? Oh.. Oh wow.").

6) I love love love covering projects that make cool/useful/nifty/clever software, especially if "staffed" (for lack of a better term to cover commercial and Open Source) by helpful people who are willing to spend 10 minutes helping me and educating me. You make my life easier, I will appreciate it for a very long time. Social capital is valuable, earning it isn't hard.

Do your own damn work (3, Insightful)

name*censored* (884880) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240103)

Why do reporters think they're better than everyone else? No-one else has access to a high-ranking developer just to hold their hands and walk them through a project when that information is already out there (the other users seem to get along fine, or you wouldn't have heard of the project). Just because you're the modern equivalent of the loud-mouthed town gossip, doesn't make you special. Regardless of what journalist screed (the number of articles I've seen of journalists portraying themselves as fantastic heroes and the amount of journalistic fraternity/nepotism makes me sick) and corporate PR departments (they're using you, duh) say, you're not special. No-one gives a flying fuck about your "deadline". Deadlines are your problem and you should take it up with your boss if it's unworkable. There are millions of bored schoolkids with blogs chomping at the bit to take your place. If you're to stand a chance of staying afloat you have to offer something they won't - quality research (which takes time and effort). Remember that you're here to serve us, and you have more to gain than us*, not the other way around. [/rant]

* You may think that reporters are vital for "The Year Of The Linux Desktop", but I'm not buying it. Firstly, large F/OSS projects like mainstream distros do have many, many press avenues, and yet 2009 still isn't YOTLD. Secondly, YOTLD is an utopia us *nixers want where we get all of the good stuff associated with popularity (better hardware vendor support, mainstream acceptance of F/OSS principles, increased interoperability, richer software library, more developers/code contributors/bug fixers) without any of the bad stuff (malware, brainless users, bigger stakes on the developer Ego Wars, more hardware/software support nightmares, more pressure, more "boring bits" and less coding fun, etc). If YOTLD is delivered by reporters (instead of by technical merit and word-of-mouth), it will be because they dumbed it down, and we'd get mostly disadvantage and only a few of the advantages. Basically, YOTLD is a wet dream where society changes to be more computer literate, and most/all of our current IT nightmares die because everyone's using their brain. This is not as unlikely as you think - nowadays everyone's kid is a techno-wiz. Even if "techno-wiz" only means "I can work the myspace and the msn", the perception of ability alone might be enough to overcome their trepidation of computing, and allow them to try new things (ie, Linux).

Re:Do your own damn work (1)

seifried (12921) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240491)

Uhmm I don't (and I'm not technically a reporter, more of a writer). I'm not looking for hand holding, I typically do my homework (download software, play with it, read change logs, documentation/etc. But sometimes I have question or want to know things that aren't covered in the documentation (like "what motivated you to make this?" or "where do you see technology X heading in the future"). I would also note that most developers, like pretty much anyone has the option of ignoring requests (for interviews, bug fixes, whatever) or just hitting the delete key, it's not like a reporter will stalk them (in most cases anyways).

Not sure where you get the year of the Linux desktop thing, but I may as well respond. Personally I don't believe in the year of the Linux desktop and think it's a waste of time. I've been running Linux since Slackware 1.0 (floppies... lots of floppies, 53 which you could cram into a 50 box without much damage), and I'm not even using it on my desktop (and I've tried). In other words I've seen "year of the linux desktop" for about a decade now and somehow I don't think this year will be much different. On the server though, heck yeah. I suspect with the way things are going the desktop will become largely irrelevant (smart phones and other appliance type devices, web based apps, computer mediated reality, etc.) and that a lot of servers and "embedded" devices will be running Linux.

The FAQ comment. (1)

Restil (31903) | more than 4 years ago | (#29239909)

His comment about sending people to the FAQ strikes home a bit. I'm sure I'm guilty of doing exactly this, and I try to be more personal with those who might be showing an interest for journalistic purposes, when several hundred people a day ask the exact same question, I'm going to redirect their page directly to the FAQ. Occasionally people do get hacked off about that, and for much the same reasons the author just described. They want a "personal" answer instead of one I decided to write for a general audience. But if you ask me the same exact question as everyone else, how is my response going to be any more or less personal if I type it out verbatim each and every time it's asked?

To be fair, I only do that when I have a pre-canned direct answer to a direct question. I also send them directly to the exact FAQ entry that answers their question, and not to the top level of the FAQ itself. And if they do happen to ask a question that calls for a deeper, more meaningful answer than the FAQ can provide, I will happily spell it out. This applies to everyone, not just reporters. Of course, anyone identifying themselves as a reporter will get the personal treatment anyway, and it's silly to do otherwise unless you suspect a malicious intent on their part, but that's USUALLY not the case.

Another tip when dealing with reporters: True, don't treat them like they're stupid or completely devoid of any knowledge of the subject they're trying to cover (even if they are). However, there's still a good chance that all of their subject matter about you and your project will be confined to the interview itself. You might gloss over or completely ignore a topic that is obvious to you, and the end result could be misinterpreted by the reporter. To use open source as an example, imagine if you think the reporter understands the basic concepts behind open source software, but he has no clue that you require a computer to run it. Of course, you don't want to make that assumption, but it's helpful to at least slip in any helpful information that might get overlooked. Even tech support people will still ask if the computer is plugged in.

One last bit, if the focus of an article is about a website, and your website is family friendly, make sure you check the family-friendly nature of all sites you link to. Newspaper editors, at the last minute, with no warning, like to put in huge bold CYA warnings about the "inappropriate" nature of sites that yours links to. This could cause others to misjudge the nature of YOUR site as a result.

-Restil

Re:The FAQ comment. (1)

seifried (12921) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240507)

Honestly though if the FAQ answers my question (and I somehow missed it, didn't find it, or whatever) then I'd be generally quite happy with an RTFM answer (although that's usually the first thing I try, I write so that people will read my stuff, I assume others write documentation for similar reasons =). One thing to note: they may be looking for an updated answer (some FAQs are atrociously out of date and wrong).I think this can all be summed up by a great quote I just saw:

People that can be discouraged from writing SHOULD be discouraged from writing

Which I actually think is true of any craft that requires a high degree of skill to do right.

whatever you do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29240129)

for fucks sake shave and take a bath before you take any photos for your press release or web site.

there are too many filthy geeks in open source and it stinks the place up.

rms... i'm looking at you.
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