GNOME Marketing Hackfest

This past week I attended the 2-day GNOME Marketing hackfest in Chicago from Tuesday, November 10th through Wednesday, November 11th, and I wanted to share a report about what happened at the event.  It was really good to be able to further engage with the GNOME marketing team at the hackest and to be able to represent both Sun Microsystems (I was the only person from Sun at the event) and to also represent the GNOME Foundation.  Since I obviously live in Chicago, it was pretty easy for me to attend.

To give some background, I started being involved with the GNOME marketing community shortly after being elected onto the GNOME Foundation board of directors (about 2 years ago).  A lot of important decisions and discussion within the GNOME community happens on the marketing list.  Therefore, I recommend that people with an interest to increase their participation with the GNOME community consider getting more involved with the GNOME marketing community.  It is a great way to get one's finger more on the pulse of what the community is doing.

The Marketing Hackfest actually got started around 5pm on Monday the 9th.  Several people (including Stormy Peters and Paul Cutler) arrived in Chicago by this time.  So, I joined them for dinner at a downtown Chicago Thai restaurant.  Afterwords we went to the Hard Rock Cafe to talk about GNOME marketing over drinks.

Tuesday the 10th was the first day of the hackfest at the Google offices at 20 W. Kinzie in Chicago.  Not surprisingly, the Google offices are a really great environment to meet, work, and collaborate.  With GNOME 3.0 approaching, everyone agreed that the hackfest should focus on marketing the new GNOME 3.0 release.  The main focus was marketing towards end users (as opposed to developers, distributions, or organizations that help fund the GNOME Foundation).

Paul Cutler showed everyone the marketing presentation that he has been giving at recent conferences.  Although his presentation did a good job of showing off the "revamped user experience" provided by GNOME 3.0, it was clear that there is still more work needed to clarify what GNOME 3.0 means to users.  For example, while there are a lot of clear
improvements with how the desktop itself works (e.g. GNOME Shell & zeitgeist), there is not as much clarity on what GNOME 3.0 means in relation to desktop applications.  We spent some time brainstorming to identify additional ways to highlight what is exciting about GNOME 3.0.

One of the major tasks that had been planned in the hackfest agenda was to create more effective marketing materials to assist volunteers that run the GNOME booth at various conferences (who typically make use of the GNOME Event Box).  In the past, the GNOME Foundation has gotten reports that people running such GNOME booths did not have a clear idea what to demonstrate, talk about, or how to answer common questions.

We spent much of the first day working collaboratively in gobby to compose first drafts of a talking points document, a FAQ, and a brochure that we intend to include with the GNOME Event Box to help such people more effectively demonstrate and present GNOME at such events.  These materials will also be made available on the web to help people giving
presentations who are not using the GNOME Event Box.

After the 1st day of the hackfest, we spent the evening at the Rock Bottom Brewery for dinner, discussion, and drinks.  Kevin Harris, who runs the Chicago Linux Users Group joined and there was good discussion on how to revitalize the Chicago GNOME community within the context of the Chicago LUG.

The second day of the hackfest was focused on developing a slogan for GNOME 3.0, and working to improve the marketing assets that the GNOME Marketing team manages.  Refer here:

http://live.gnome.org/GnomeMarketing/MarketingMaterial

Mainly we focused on two areas where things are currently lacking.  One, the GNOME community needs more stock presentations to showcase GNOME in general and the upcoming GNOME 3.0 release.  It was highlighted that much of this sort of information could be useful to downstream distros so it is also important to provide this sort of information in a way that would be useful to them.

Two, the GNOME community needs template GNOME-branded slides.  For example, people who receive travel funding from the GNOME Foundation should be expected to use GNOME-branded slides that highlight that the person was sponsored by the GNOME Foundation.  Such presentations should also include a standard slide that encourages people in the audience to consider donating to the GNOME Foundation (e.g. via the Friends of GNOME program).

So, we spent several hours identifying what specific work need to be done in these two areas, and we started doing the work to fill in the missing pieces.

Also on the second day of the hackfest, Jason Clinton gave a 1-hour presentation about his ideas to improve GNOME application About dialogs to better market the GNOME project.  He suggests that the About dialog should provide two new buttons.  One that will launch a website to help users learn more about GNOME, and the second to encourage users to
donate to the GNOME Foundation.  He proposed that GNOME should automatically track who donates money via this new About dialog (unless they opt-out).  This way, when any user launches the About dialog, it would highlight and recognize those users who were inspired to donate from that program's About dialog.  This, for example, would provide a way for GNOME users to recognize their favorite applications.

After the 2nd of the hackfest, we went to dinner at a local cajun restaurant named Heaven on Seven.  The hackfest wrapped up right after dinner since pretty much everyone (aside from myself) needed to rush to the airport to catch flights home.

There were a lot of side-discussions both during the hackfest and after in the evenings.  All of the dinners were working dinners and everyone did a great job of keeping on-topic.  Such topics included:
  • How the GNOME community needs to be more effective at attracting attention from the press, and the importance of doing more effective and regular press releases.
  • Accessibility, and the importance of keeping GNOME 3.0 accessible was a topic that frequently came up.  The GNOME Marketing team seems to clearly understand that it will be a big blow to the GNOME message if GNOME 3.0 is not usably accessible. 
  • The marketing team is very interested in creating video advertising and instructional videos for GNOME 3.0.  Several hours were spent talking about suitable topics and how to go about producing such videos in a volunteer community. 
  • Several times, it was highlighted that 97% of all "Friends of GNOME" donations come from people who are end-users and not GNOME Foundation members.  However, the GNOME community does not do a very good job of advertising Friend of GNOME outside of the GNOME developer community.  Much time was spent discussing how to better reach out and advertise the Friends of GNOME program directly to end-users.
  • Getting more people from the GNOME community involved with the marketing project.  The theme that "all GNOME community members are really a part of the marketing effort" came up frequently.
  • People seemed to agree that the Marketing team should run a regular IRC meeting, much like the GNOME a11y team does.  The idea being that this would help encourage more people to get involved with GNOME marketing projects.
  • The importance of fostering more mentorship within the GNOME community to attract new volunteers in marketing and other areas.
  • Ways to better recognize GNOME volunteers.  For example, there was the suggestion that influential people in the GNOME Foundation and on the marketing team should invest more time to write positive recommendations for outstanding GNOME contributors on social networking websites like LinkedIn, and to develop other ways to highlight such outstanding contributors.
  • Ideas on how to improve fundraising, including ideas on how the GNOME community could be more effective at pursuing grants.
Overall, the event was a big success.  This was the first time the GNOME Marketing community has ever gotten together for a face-to-face meeting.  With GNOME 3.0 approaching, it is an important time for the marketing team to become more consolidated and focused on making GNOME 3.0 a success.

Everyone had a lot to contribute and there was a real feeling that the hackfest was a real energy boost that should result in a lot of productive work from the marketing team over the next months.  People seemed to feel that another one or two Marketing Hackfests are in order before GNOME 3.0 is actually released.  People also seemed to feel that future marketing hackfests should be longer (perhaps 3 or 4 days).

Of course, special thanks to Novell and Google for sponsoring the event.
Comments:

Its nice to read the report about "GNOME Marketing Hackfest" and I think the "About dialogs" was such a good idea. :)

Posted by Muhammad Ghazali on November 17, 2009 at 11:35 AM CST #

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