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openSUSE:Release marketing guide for local community

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As we openSUSE do have many local communities with different traditons, different states (eg: some local community might be full of "serious" users, while some may be just for Linux newcomers less than 20), the focus of release marketing might be various from just tweeting a message to documenting as detailed as you can, from keeping telling what's new in desktop environments to repeatedly mentioning those under-water changes. So this is basically my experience sharing after successfully marketing two releases (12.2 & 12.3) locally in China. If you didn't do such local marketing before, this might be a good starting point to see what you can do, and how much time these things will cost, to help your local community shaping and growing.

NOTE: This just covers the "online" part of marketing for now. I'm really not good at offline marketing eg: release party hosting....such kinda things.

Principles

Respect the existence of difference and realize some differences can't be eliminated

My experience might be typical:

I did UI/Wiki translations as my starting point to openSUSE project...because I have an English major, I didn't notice the difference at the very beginning, but:

Later on, I translated Portal:Packaging and learned to package. I found because the Sino-Euro copyright law difference, some softwares are permitable (actually very common) here but forbidden on OBS. I took almost one year to figue out myself.

By surfing and participation in our official forum mangement, I noticed that English users usually ask more "high-tech" questions, eg. how to use samba, how to configure dual-head displays, while Chinese users tend to ask some pretty basic questions, eg. how to use Microsoft YaHei font? Giving me a feeling that our local community still has a long way to go because almost everyone is taking Linux as a free Windows "alternative", or "geek toy", the usage itself is just enough for boasting to his classmates.

This year, Jos invited me to join our "Strategy talk". I found todd, a normal british user, asked so many high-end questions that as a community lead, I can't even follow.

Then I came to realize: Although Chinese community may have the second largest population (900+ local forum candidates) in minorities judging by country (1st is of course German), we're still intermediate level in tech field. It means, eg:

  • It's not so hard for English users to understand why we need Packman and can't ship multimedia codecs by default. But here you have to teach users the law difference at first and open source is still limited by the common law.
  • You have to teach them "what is FOSS" to prevent "Why I should use it".
  • Too many under-water show-off can't hit them, it'll just shock them. Because they're far from understanding that. Showing a 3D cube in KDE or screenshots proving we're superior to Ubuntu might be just enough. They take "Desktop Environment Changes" as our major changes, so a new KDE theme or ktelepathy gecko head worth much than the news "AMD open sourced its something to kernel" unless you tell him directly: You card will work next release.

Meanwhile, you must realize some gaps can't be zero, eg. Asian users may take translation as the 1st priority. An english system is just "bad"; The laws can't change in forseeable future, you have to tell them well we can do something in this way or we do have some packages for you because we have local packagers; Asian users can leave input methods, you have to tell what's new in every detail of every input method which at the same time is meaningless to most western users.

Identify the differences and classify them

You may have to walk around on your local Linux forums to see what they're discussing about, and may have some polls to identify your user structure. Age, class, wealth is useless in this survey, only career does matter. Questions like:

  • What do you use openSUSE for, see mine
  • What do you want openSUSE to be in your deep soul, see mine

Might be very helpful (one close question and one open question).

Then you have to classify:

  • Users "hope" just because they don't know we have. tell'em
  • Users hope because they don't know some concepts.
  • Users hope because they're new to Linux world.
  • Users hope because we really don't have but can have. tell'em how to use features
  • Users hope because they're serious users.

And

  • This difference can be "fixed".
  • This difference is real but can be zero in the future
  • This difference is real and can't be zeio in the future.

So now you have a clear mind of what local users are interested in openSUSE. and the ratio of newbie/potential contributors/valued users/developers inside your community. That's the weight of your release marketing.

Don't over-localized, "just fit" is enough diversity

You can't make a new local website just because local users think opensuse.org is ugly. What you do is to narrow the gap instead of building a wall. Although at the beginning there must be some serious people who freely take responsibility to act as "bridge", still, bridge is only needed when there's a gap.

Infrastructure for local release marketing

Essential

  • You must have local UI for your language. that is, i18n.opensuse.org svn branch and access. Don't have one? Add your language

Because if you don't even have a local version of opensuse.org (the translation template is in svn), you are actually part of English community.

  • A local wiki, eg: zh.opensuse.org. Don't have one? write to opensuse-web#opensuse.org mailing list

It can act as a central place for local information source.

  • Some personal connections with locally famous Linux blogs/media.

Don't think it's too hard to get. They're human-beings and Linux users too. They live in their distributions' IRC channelS and socal networks too. It's just a matter of time. eg: I made friends with almost all "powerful" Chinese Linux users who have influence on groups of users and news editors pesonally in 2 years. It's not hard to ask them publish your openSUSE release note 2 times a year.

Optional

openSUSE project didn't provide such infrastruce for now. But I think you can write to our board to get some "solid" help.

I list all tricks I use. You can just pick one or two.

  • A local community "official" blog.

With that, you can translate articles from news.opensuse.org and lizards.opensuse.org. It's not pure translation, but a second modification based on what Jos said: You can arrange the order to change focus, you can add local contents...like that.

Remember:

1. Don't use your own blog! It'll gain you reputation but can't help anything in shaping a community.

2. Don't change its domain frequetly. I did that once...it's bad, trust me.

  • A local forum.

You can launch your local forum (it's the most advanced because you can optimize the UI, speed for your local users), or apply a sub-forum in forums.opensuse.org (unless it's blocked partly like the situation in China), or apply a moderator in your local general-purpose Linux forum (the most inferior because there's too much "noise").

That's where your local community members resides most of the times.

  • Social networks.

Facebook group, G+ community, Twitter account, or any other social network locals love eg: NicoNico might be a good place for Japanese users, Weibo.com/Bilibili/Acfun/Tieba for mainland Chinese users, Plurk/Ptt.cc for Chinese users from Taiwan.

Basically, the most popular social network in your region and the most popular place for "indoor" persons (indoor person has a very large percentge of using something unique like Linux) in your place will help a lot. On the contrary, general IT/geek/programmer channels sometimes are useless to you because they have a major favor on Windows/Mac. You have to:

1. find some already Linux or even openSUSE users to help you. 2. attract newbies to try openSUSE. You will certainly not like to get about 200 newbies and teach them one by one on your own! 3. attract some developers who develops Linux application on github. That's your programmers' backup team...they can handle the most hard part of users questions and the infrastructure maintenance of your local community. 4. keep growing and attracting new users.

  • Instant Messenger group && IRC Channel

Because some people do need such kinda more-human help to feel at home.

And it depends. Basically newbies don't like IRC because learning curve is sharp. A gtalk group might be better. You can setup one with xmpptalk, developed by one of Chinese admins.

And in special cases, like in China, almost everyone has a Tecent QQ acount. Tradition is just so hard to kill & fight against. I have two of such groups maintained by my local members too.

  • A planet, blog feed aggregation service for local users.

It's where people share tips freely. You can either apply a channel on planet.opensuse.org or lauch your own (In case you add a lot of feed eg. per month, Pascal is a father of two children, time is rather limited for you)

  • A local package repository (A bonus, optional in optional)

You can do that on build.opensuse.org, providing packages every local may need, eg.

home:opensuse_zh. We have open source clients for ptt.cc/weibo.com/Tecent QQ...and some networking tools essential for university students.

Or host your own FTP repository (ask help from local CS university students) with something like freeware (I host some freeware input methods for openSUSE and some plugin for online bank payment, which are really hard to find who to contact to get redistribution permission)

  • Good enough mirrors for local download.

mirrors.opensuse.org does things really good. But there're still better mirrors hidden in the darkness :-) eg: some local university students may host mirrors with better speed...or, do you have local search engine? do they have free "cloud hosting" service? placing a final ISO there may help everyone.

  • An index page for your local community

This sounds "split", it's just okay to use opensuse.org.

But in this way you can place what local users care most on top, add more screenshots :-) This is called prototype in web design, see mine.

Don't use your community blog as index unless your place has a tradition to do so.

A prototype is something to attract eyeballs and encourage trial. Too much texts won't help.

Process

This process consists a few concepts and needs a few colateration inside your community. But one person job is also okay (The way I do although I'm training new maintainers for this workflow)

Bascially:

  • translation (UI, wiki, articles, release notes), starting point.
  • artwork (Local promotion web banner for forums, wiki, blogs, countdown, social networks, and lazy media, don't count release party materials like CD cover/T-shirt/posters, because not everyone has the design ability to do that and you can do that later)
  • social interaction & communication
  • feedbacks

I'll do this in a timestamp waterfall style so you can follow one by one.

M4 & RC time

This is the preparation period.

1. Starting from M4, there'll be new UI translation starting to fill in i18n.opensuse.org, You can check that page regularly or pay attention to karl or coolo's notification on opensuse-translation#opensuse.org mailing list.

Usually UI translation has to be done before RC2. After that, rare chance you can have new translated strings displayed in final release. There's no clear document or time stop about when our doc team will stop pushing new strings to the system or branch the release branch from trunk (they're not at the same time), but as a tip you can watch commits for yast2-trans, this will give you hints. But, still, finish your work before RC2 is the most safe way. Or you have to wait for translation update to get new strings in.

2. Starting from Beta, Jos, our community manager and the journalist for news.opensuse.org, will start to write posts about the coming openSUSE. Beta && RC release articles is where you can get a summary of what's new in next openSUSE. They're worthy translating if you launched a local community blog as I did (a few hours for each).

And you can use these posts to get your early adopters or valued users informed. So they have something to tell on socail networks: eg, what to look forward to? to the newbies. I call this "warm up" so you won't feel alone when the release is really coming.

3. During this time, artwork for next release will be ready. You can keep yourself informed on opensuse-artwork#opensuse.org. There're some official artworks you can just "translate". but openSUSE artwork team is mainly concentrated on what will suit all users, eg: wiki, countdown, social media. Can find all on github

Well if you wanna make better local release, artwork is not the thing you can workaround or get ignored. forums & blogs marketing material and those for lazy media is what you can't get help. So maintaining your local artwork team is a good idea, see mine.

Better get artworks done just a few weeks after RC1. or it'll be too hurry for idea to come out.

RC to GM time

This is the "overload" time. But you can't postpone things to the R day...that day will tell whether you're a flying dragon or just a normal snake, so get yourself armed enough.

You focus in this period will be diversified into two parts:

  • Wiki && Release notes
  • Acting as a real bridge

During this time, there'll be these things coming on wiki(arranged by time):

  • a new features page which is originally located at openSUSE:Major_features and will be renamed as Features on the R day (The previous features will be renamed as Archives:Features_12.3). About 20000+ English word. If you do it solo, will cost you about 1 entire week.
  • a new Portal:13.1 about 2 days.
  • a few new pages that documents new features coming in the release. They can be rather short like Portal:Snapper in 12.2's time or long like openSUSE:UEFI in 12.3's time. Each article costs 1 or 2 days. so better schedule carefully.

Of course the third can be translated after the release. But according to my experience, it's better to have them translated before the release, both to get newcomers happy and get yourself prepared. I didn't estimate that there're so many UEFI users out there at 12.3 time, and that's really awful...you see the forum you setup are flooding with questions you have no idea about...that made you feel idiot and outsider...

and on news.o.o:

  • 3 to 4 sneak peaks. about 5000 words each, cost a few hours to finish.
  • the final release note post. can be seen via a preview link 2 or 3 days before the release on new.o.o, you can ask that link on #opensuse-project IRC channel. But here're the rules: Don't give it to users or other contributors, this is your solo work! Because if too many people have seen it, it's not a release note anymore...then instead of sheduled posting, it's called dumping your old trash...

about less than 5000 words, 2 hours' work. But as it's release note, and some parts of it will appear on opensuse.org with its title for almost 8 months! so pay attention to your grammar/wording, and find a really good match for the title in your local language! (my bloody mistake...I translated a too casual title for our 12.3 release work...you know...now everyday I have to watch my mistake...)

Although Jos said sneak peaks won't need to get translated on time. But here's my theory: You release one post per day before the R day. to warm the air and have some atomosphere. I call this "fire scout".

These things will get yourself overloaded. But haha here's more:

  • Max Lin may need you to translate some simple strings that'll be sent through social networks by official accounts during the release week (If you have local accounts, you can send these messages too)
  • There may be users who have already loaded their system with RC versions out there, asking for help or saying something bugs. Pay attention to the, esp. Bug claims. verify (I usually upgrade my system from RC2), and transfer to our developers on IRC/bugzilla. Because some users just can't speak enough English to describle their situation clearly. And we are still lacking of clever eyes to reassign bugs...anyway in any community, knowing the developer personally will speed up your bugfix, that's human nature. So as a friend cherry-pick some really good bugs for them.
  • Start to contact local Linux media. Tell your editor/journalist friends that you'll have one post to publish on his site. eg: I always tell Linuxtoy.org, the biggest Linux news site and every other media recites it, founded by two Fedora members, two days before the release.

Of course, if you're close enough to them, you can post your sneak peaks there too...

  • Start to find some famous friends to review for you. Send them ISO download link and release notes before R day, but don't "before" too much (or if you're not at equal "level", they may have the motivation to public it)...one day will be enough, well contact them long before that one day...it will please them to write something for you. The selection need to be careful, you need pros varying in multiple fields, eg: server and desktop are different.
  • Try the RC yourself. If you can, summarize another wiki page like 13.1_upgrade_notes_and_common_problems, see mine.

The R Day

If you have done your homework before the R day, here're the very few things you're going to do on the R day:

  • Check out updates via i18n.opensuse.org. opensuse-org.pot will be updated just a few hours before the release hour. hurry up.
  • Send out release notes to your editor/journalist friends. Keep them online at time!
  • Stay your web browser open. watch social media and where you'll post release notes. avoid negative comments from coming. well if that's your own site, you can't delete but you can postpone them for a few days. if that's public area, clarify instead of fight against them unless you think you can easily beat a non-sense troll (I can! women have such gift!)
  • Stay with your local community. On forum. Answer questions and guide.

Good luck for an amazing release!

Afterwork

Think what you missed. Gather user feedback about the release. See which part can be improved. And keep in mind:

A good and healthy community counts less on whether the release is brilliant. The on-going user help, the fruitfulness of your local wiki, the reputation and respect from broader Linux community, and what's more, what you have contributed to this great project are the things that are most important...so...just keep going. Take everyday as release day.

A new cycle: M1 to M4

During this time, you can encourage users who wanna help to translate openSUSE Documentation. Didn't do it after M4 because it's too time consuming...about 50w English words...man...later I may write some tips about that in another article eg openSUSE:Documentation_translation_tips.

Author

  • MargueriteSu Talk - Contributions: The running head and founding member of our Chinese community, she has been almost successfully pulling a community from blackhole since 2011...

Feel free to add contents and ideas you've tried in your community.

Reference

  • Release process explanation from openSUSE release team. esp. the Gantt Chart.