Awareness Working Group

Last modified by Unknown User on 2018.04.23 at 14:09:41 PDT

The OSI Awareness Expansion Working Group was chartered by the board on March 5, 2014 and created as a short-term activity to call on volunteers to help refresh OSI's communications approach and thereby improve its ability to meet its non-profit mission.


During the period of March through June 4, 2014, it was envisioned that working group members would work together through discussion forum, wiki, and teleconference. 

Update: In May of 2014 the OSI Board was tasked with articulating a clearer vision of OSI's mission and activities consistent with changes and evolution that had occurred as a result of governance reform and the movement towards a member-driven organization.  A six of board members and a volunteer facilitator met in July of 2014 in a working group session concurrent with their respective attendance at OSCON in Portland, Oregon to carry out that activity.  Documenting the outcome of that work in the form of message development work is now underway, with plans to resume working group activities in November of 2014.


If you are interested in joining the effort, please email debbryant-at-opensource-dot-org and we'll set you up to access the working group space.


OSI’s presence and ability to communicate its mission, goals, activities and in the marketplace of ideas is need of improvement, as it is with many evolving non-profits. We propose creation of a working group focused on expanding global awareness of OSI and strengthening its ability to fulfill its mission.

The work group will be comprised of experienced communications professionals and enthusiasts, marketing/research and brand experts, and community development and management leaders. Their task will be to review OSI’s communications strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges, and to recommend steps that OSI can follow to increase global awareness of OSI, while keeping within OSI's community culture, volunteer goodwill and financial resources.*


Project Sponsors are Board members Deb Bryant and Tony Wasserman.


It is our goal provide OSI with concrete recommendations to assist in improving its communications; strengthen its ability to use and protect its registered mark. This will be fundamental to advancing OSI’s initiatives to educate and advocate for open source software.

A written recommendation will come from the work group which will include

  • General path for revitalizing/expanding OSI’s communications
  • Specific recommendations for action
  • Suggested approach including a mix of volunteer vs. paid professional services

The Awareness Working Group is spinning back up after a hiatus while we determine an initial messaging platform. This messaging platform will be developed on this wiki page with input from all working group members. 

* Key Concepts likely to be included in discussions of the work group include

  • A messaging platform that reflects OSI’s member-driven mission, ideally based on segmenting OSI’s audience subsets (various member classifications; kindred organizations (including current Affiliate Members); industry and community groups etc.)
  • Improvements on existing public-facing assets such as the OSI web site and Google community groups
  • Resources for content creation and management
  • Strategies for more effective use of social media
  • An approach to managing the OSI logo as a communications asset
  • Search Engine Optimization and other contemporary inbound marketing tools
  • Identifying high leverage events in which OSI should participate
  • Facelifts for look and feel for all outbound OSI communications (“branding”)
  • SWAG and other tangibles
  • Membership drives and other ways to attract people to join OSI
  • Designation of evangelists who can help build awareness and support for OSI and its mission
  • Budget needs to implement awareness programs

Apereo 2014 Conference Survey

While attending the Apereo Conference an impromptu survey was undertaken to assess if the attendees were aware of the OSI. The results show only 14.5% of people attending the conference could explain to a colleague what the OSI is and does.

What is Open Source, "one pager"

The OSI was contacted through the website/lists with a request from the marketing department of an open source focused support and services business for a one page explanation of what open source software was.

The attached document was created (ODP editable version, PDF version).

Messaging Index - Initial Draft

The first action item to complete as part of the Awareness Working Group's deliverables is a set of key messages for the OSI, as well as an understanding of audiences for each message. As our mission with the OSI is both broad and deep, our key messages will be of value to almost all audiences listed in the audience segmentation section. However, the key messages will need to be nuanced for each audience. There will also be overlap amongst our audience segments; for example, it is easy to imagine that we would see audience members who are both individual members and open source software developers working on FLOSS as part of their employment and on their own time or that a corporation consuming FLOSS would also be a funder for the OSI.

The OSI wishes to express their deep thanks to the team at Agile Public Relations for volunteering their time to assist us with spinning up this initial messaging index.

Audience Segmentation

The following groups are our audience for OSI's outreach objectives:

  • Open source software developers
    • Independent developers working on FLOSS projects 
    • Developers working on open source software within corporations
    • Developers who work create FLOSS software both as part of their employment and on their own time
  • Individual members of the OSI
  • Affiliate members of the OSI
  • Members of the press
    • Goal: make OSI the go-to source for expertise on matters related to open source software & open standards
  • Government agencies / bodies
    • Looking to adopt open source software
    • Need convincing that open source software is a viable option for them
    • Those who have adopted FLOSS and wish to share their stories
  • Education organizations / universities
    • Looking to add FLOSS options to their curriculum
    • Wishing to use FLOSS for their institution, e.g. Kuali or other university targeted FLOSS applications
  • Corporations consuming and/or contributing to FLOSS projects
    • Licensing questions and stewardship
    • In need of best practices information / knowledge sharing 
  • Funding organizations who wish to financially support the OSI's mission
  • Affinity organizations whom with wish to collaborate with around matters of FLOSS software production, plus open & participatory culture
    • e.g. joint work with the FSF and SFC on the FLOSS entities working group 
    • e.g. joint amicus briefs prepared in concert with other organizations related to net neutrality, etc.

Key Messages

OSI Messaging - Context

Open source is one of the world's key drivers of innovation, generating previously unimagined levels of efficiency and collaboration while spawning entirely new products and industries such as .... (examples to be segmented depending on audience, e.g. cloud for corporations consuming FLOSS project work)

Supporting Context

  • Open source touches peoples' lives at multiple points throughout their day - smart phones, banking applications, search engines, security software the average user doesn't realize exists, etc.
  • The success of open source adoption and its recognized value by developers, distributors and users make it an irreversible trend
  • Due to confusion and competitive forces, there are organizations that are incorrectly portraying their software as being open source

Key Messages

  • The OSI protects and promotes open source by providing a foundation for community success.
  • The OSI champions open source in society through education, infrastructure and collaboration.
  • The OSI protects and promotes open source by stewarding the open source definition & preventing abuse of the open source concept by bad actors.

Community Success - Proof Points

The OSI protects and promotes open source by providing a foundation for community success by

  • Stewarding the open source definition and thereby providing a set of guidelines so that the community can collaborate within an open, shared and well understood "rules of engagement" 

  • Acting as a fiscal agent for open source organizations who require such services but cannot be housed by existing groups, e.g. OpenHatch

  • Through our incubator program, providing infrastructure and expertise for community driven projects that improve the overall FLOSS ecosystem, e.g. the FLOW Syllabus

  • Additions to this list are welcome and encouraged!

Championing OSS - Proof Points

The OSI champions open source software through education, infrastructure and collaboration

  • Education
    • by providing an incubator for the development of materials of use to the educational community and those wishing to learn more about open source development practices, e.g. the FLOW Syllabus
    • through outreach to educational organizations to make them aware of open source software in general, plus open source software packages that may meet their technical needs, e.g. Educause Reception in partnership with several affiliate FLOSS project participating
    • by hosting events of benefit to the wider community to educate them on specific topics where our Board and wider membership have expertise, e.g. our Licensing Clinic (held in conjunction with F2F BOD meeting prior to Leslie joining the OSI, link needed)
  • Infrastructure
    • Technical infrastructure for working groups such as wiki, mailing lists, videoconferencing software, etc. Full list of technical resources are available under the Technology Systems Hub page.
    • Financial infrastructure - such as taking in payments and producing accounting deliverables - as a fiscal agent for groups requiring this support, e.g. OpenHatch
  • Collaboration
    • FLOSS entities working group collaboration amongst affinity players, including the Free Software Foundation and the Software Freedom Conservancy
    • Working group infrastructure and community incubator to provide a home and guidance for non-code related community driven projects in the FLOSS world
    • Joint amicus briefs with other FLOSS groups or open culture entities, such as Alice v. CLS Bank

Protects Open Source - Proof Points

The OSI protects open source software by

  • Stewarding the open source definition
    • The open source definition provides clear rules of engagement to anyone who wishes to use, publish, modify or share open source software. The OSI are the keepers of this definition and are the only group with the mandate to maintain or modify it.
  • Preventing abuse by bad actors
    • The OSI regularly follows up with individuals and companies who are misrepresenting their software as open source, in other words, calling something open source when it does not meet the open source definition. At times, the OSI may request that they remove the label of open source from software packages that do not meet the open source definition. At other times, the OSI has ensured that those using the OSI logo or wordmarks are only doing so if the activities are compliant with the open source definition and our trademark policies.
      • Related work: OSI Trademark working group, as we only allow our mark to be used by organizations who are genuinely producing software that meets the open source definition

Messaging Index - Next Steps

Following on from this first pass effort at audience segmentation, key message development and provision of proof points for each key message, the next steps for the Awareness Working Group will be:

  • Developer one liners and elevator pitch paragraphs for each key message.
  • Examine the OSI's FAQ document and determine how it might be augmented with these key messages.
  • Determine which of the proposed deliverables in the Key Concepts section, above, to tackle first.
Created by Patrick Masson on 2014.04.01 at 15:15:23 PDT

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