Fedora Ambassadors: Measuring Success

Open Source Advocate

I have been a Linux dabbler since 1994 when I first tried Suse Linux. In 2006 I became a full-time Linux user when I converted by laptop to Linux in October of 2006. Like many Linux users I sampled many different distributions while choosing the one that best fit my personality. Eventually I settled on Ubuntu with the release of Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibon). Despite choosing Ubuntu I always saw myself as a Linux and open source advocate first and an Ubuntu advocate second. I respected and valued that Linux and open source allowed people the freedom to make personal choices.

I helped organize the Ubuntu New York Local Team in their drive to become an approved team starting in November of 2008. In January of 2009 my application to become an Ubuntu Member was approved. Between November of 2008 and October of 2012 I helped organize and attended 93 Ubuntu, Linux or FOSS events. This included the first FOSSCON that was held at RIT in June of 2010.

In addition to local events I was involved in the global Ubuntu Community as a member of the Ubuntu Beginners Team, Ubuntu LoCo Council and Ubuntu Community Council. I was also fortunate to be sponsored to attend three Ubuntu Developer Summits (UDS). It was during my time serving on the Ubuntu Community Council that I yearned to have more time to get back to what I felt my core mission was; advocacy. I knew that when my term on the Ubuntu Community Council ended in November of 2015 that I could refocus my efforts.

Fedora Ambassador

I became a Fedora Ambassador on March 30th of 2009, but prior to December of 2015 I was more focused on Ubuntu related activities than Fedora. In late October of 2015 I reached out to a long time friend and FOSS Rock Star Remy DeCausmaker. Remy helped me find a few places I could contribute in the Fedora Project. Through these efforts I met Justin Flory who has an amazing passion for Open Source and Fedora. Almost a year later and I am very active as a contributor to the Fedora Project as an author and Ambassador. I have published 23 articles on Fedora Magazine including 19 How Do You Fedora interviews. Thanks to Justin inviting me along I also attended BrickHack and HackMIT as a Fedora Ambassador. HackMIT involved two six hour drives which allowed for a great amount of time to discuss and reflect on being a Fedora Ambassador. One of the topics in the discussion was how to measure the success of an event.

Measuring Success

Over the many years of being an open source advocate I have learned that the method to measure success can take many different forms. When organizing events for the New York LoCo we measured success by how many people attended the event. When I went to technical conferences success was measured by the number of CDs distributed. As I speaker I measured success by the number of people who attended the presentation. With Fedora Magazine I look at the number of views and comments for each article.

On the long ride home from HackMIT 2016 Justin and I discussed how to measure the success of our efforts. The Fedora Project has a badge for attending HackMIT 2016 and ten people have earned the badge. When your remove Justin and me that means 8 out of 1000 participants earned the Fedora HackMIT 2016 badge. What does this mean? I took a closer look at the badge and learned that six of the eight registered their FAS account during the event. Two already had FAS accounts. The numbers lead to several questions:

  • Will the six people who created an account to earn the badge become Fedora Contributors?
  • Will any of the people who did not earn the badge contribute to Fedora?
  • Is the badge a good measure of a successful outreach event?

The first two are good questions. It is difficult to track the first question and impossible to track the second one. The third question is the one that concerns me the most. I think badges are a good way to measure an inreach event, but a poor measure of an outreach effort. I would like to see a better way to measure the success of an event.

Fedora Ambassadors: Mission Statement

The mission of a Fedora Ambassador is clearly stated on the wiki page.

"Ambassadors are the representatives of Fedora. Ambassadors ensure the public understand Fedora's principles and the work that Fedora is doing. Additionally Ambassadors are responsible for helping to grow the contributor base, and to act as a liaison between other FLOSS projects and the Fedora community."

The Fedora Badge granted to attendees does not measure any of these items. I know that I personally handed out 200 fliers about the badge. In doing so I spoke to roughly 80% of the participants and had several good conversations about the Four Foundations. I showed excitement when people were using FOSS in their projects. I answered questions about the best light weight web server. I answered questions about why I chose Fedora. I expressed excitement when I found an entire team using Ubuntu Linux. All of those interactions embody the spirit of the mission. On the long drive home I posed a few questions as we discussed HackMIT:

  • Was the overall awareness of Fedora increased?
  • Was the overall awareness of Linux increased?
  • Was the overall awareness of FOSS increased?
  • Are the participants more likely to check Fedora out in the future?
  • Are the participants more likely to open source their work?

To answer these questions would require a survey. The survey would have to be relatively short, and not require a FAS account or require the person to identify themselves. This will make it more likely that participants would complete the survey. Beyond evaluating a single event the results for event categories could be combined and compared. Take all the answers for hackathon events and compare them to all the answers for maker faire events. With this data it might be possible to know what type of events provide the best opportunity for Ambassadors to make an impact. This would help the Fedora Community determine how to best spend limited funds and volunteer hours.