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[OH-Publicity] Improving open source comes to campus websites

Asheesh Laroia asheesh at
Fri Feb 15 17:57:50 UTC 2013

On Mon, 11 Feb 2013, Michael Stone wrote:

> Asheesh,
> I'd love to help but, motivated by the fear that the scheduling on my 
> end isn't going to be any better this week than it was last week, I'll 
> start with a handful of suggestions and questions of increasing 
> complexity. Thus:
> If you have no time:
>  0. Make the entirety of the site be the div currently labeled "The
> Plan": it is sufficient by itself and has a clear and adequate call to
> action. (Also, if possible, inline the minimal signup form directly
> into the div at the bottom.)

Will definitely do for future events. I ran out of time before this one!

> If you have some time:
>  1. Bigger fonts! (at least for the headlines)


>  2. Pretty pictures or logos! (today, there's just text.)

Yes, that makes sense. I kind of wanted to have more 
appeal and be flashier than the university-specific event websites, but I 
basically withdraw that as a goal now.

>  3. Single page? (why do I need to click through two other pages in
> order to sign up?)


>  4. Shorter signup form or rationale for questions? (why are you
> asking me all these things; I just want to come learn! -- e.g., will
> answering them help you to help me learn more/better?)

*nod*, will review in more depth post-event.

>  5. Add an optional space for "Anything else you'd like to tell us?"
> or "Anything else we should know?" on the form?


>  6. Don't waste your confirmation page! Currently it says:
>  "Open Source Comes to Campus: Harvard University
>    Your response has been recorded."
>      How about: "Thanks for registering! Now, while our indefatigable
> volunteers process your response, why don't you...
>    a) try out our Volunteer Opportunity Finder
>    b) share the love by inviting a friend to come along too
>    c) get started learning about projects you might work on..."

Good golly, I agree.

We sent something like this out a few days *before* the event, but that 
left a communication gap of a week or more for some people.

>  7. How do I tell *immediately* if this page is for me?
>  8. If it is, what's in it for me?
>  9. Who are you, anyway, and why should I listen to you? "Free
> software enthusiasts" doesn't tell me much. (Nor, sadly, does "Asheesh
> Laroia and Shauna Gordon-McKeon".)
>  10. Remember Cialdini's themes: reciprocation, commitment &
> consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity. Today,
> you're really only hitting scarcity, though social proof is easily
> within your reach. Perhaps lead with something like "The Background:
> Students like you around the {world,country,universe} are gaining
> valuable experience, connections, and skills by coding, testing, and
> writing for free software projects like ..." ?
>  11. Continuing on with social proof: Who are your reference
> customers? Are they people like me? Do you have pictures?
>  12. What's the complete package? Hit me with it! (a.k.a. "WIIFM")
> (Note: the "The Plan" does this pretty well, though some illustrations
> might still help.)
>  13. What does it cost? Just my time?!
>  14. So who will actually be teaching me?
>  15. Build authority. Example: "Hmm. I wonder... oh. They already have 
> answers waiting? Impressive... perhaps these people know what they're 
> doing..."

Well golly gee, I agree with all of this.

> P.S. - Also, to be really clear: is your goal for the site:
>  a) to maximize attendance?
>  b) to maximize signups?
>  c) to get good attendance with a good mix of Harvard students?
>  d) ...something else?

First goal is to get high attendance, and secondly to get highly diverse 
attendance, successfully reaching people who might not realize that open 
source could be interesting for them. (Maybe those are swapped. It depends 
on the particulars of the event. For this event, we actually are aiming 
for a majority-women event, which all indications suggest we'll get.)

Super high signups would be a perfectly great way to do that, since if we 
run out of space, we can hand-pick the more excited people.

-- Asheesh.

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