Or you might want to submit an article proposal to OpenSource.com. They don't pay in money, but it's a prestigious site -- and we know professional writers whose work has appeared there, alongside articles written by people with strong programming skills but weak English skills -- who have been helped by Rikki and other site personnel to whip their thoughts into publishable form. All of this (aside from the All Things Open conference) goes on all year long, but Hey! If we're going to have a Most Open Month, it might as well be October, which is arguably one of the 12 most excellent months in the entire Gregorian calendar.
Rikki Endsley: We have different themes every month in addition to doing interview series for different events. And we were doing the All Things Open interview series for October because All Things Open will be held next week in Raleigh the 19th and 20th of October. So in an editorial meeting months ago we were talking about what our theme would be for the month, and somebody jokingly mentioned ‘for most of the month’, and then we started talking about that, and we thought about how we could use and work it in with our interview series. We are always trying to get brand new writers and first time contributors, and we thought that we would kind of tie it in with that, and kind of roll out the red carpet and really try to get a lot of new writers. And also, Jen Wike Huger came up with the idea to do a new community column that is the My Open Source Story column.
Slashdot: But you’ve told me in the past that they just do not interfere with you editorially.
Rikki: No they really don’t. I was actually working at Linux New Media and years ago, about five years ago, when Red Hat launched with an open source dotcom site, and I thought when it happened, I saw the announcement go out, I had been keeping an eye on it all these years and I was really impressed with how they were doing it, because back then when I was at Linux New Media and back at SysAdmin magazine, we didn’t really see Red Hat as being a huge community kind of organization compared to some other open source projects. And so I was really impressed that Red Hat was doing more community types of projects and being more visible in their efforts, so I really kept my eye on Opensource.com and was really impressed because also the people who were creating this really great site—it is not a for-profit site, that it does not have a pay wall or much advertising on it. They didn’t come from a publishing background which was also impressive to me, because I did come from a publishing background and a journalism background and so I was ready to be hypercritical of the site, but I was actually very impressed with it. So one thing went to another and I eventually ended up with being with the site, pretty recently.
Slashdot: Alright. So tell me about the Most Open Month. How do Slashdot readers participate?
Rikki: Well, it is very easy. Actually you can just submit a proposal at opensource.com/story, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org with an article idea, just a brief outline of what you are interested in, and we will help people walk through it. If you don’t quite have an idea totally fleshed out yet, but you need any help with that, there is some kind of help with that, or suggest an outline, and help with formatting. And then copyedit, we do have a couple of copyeditors on staff. We don’t own articles afterwards—it is under a Creative Commons license and so whoever contributes articles, can then go use that article on their blog, or on their company site, and it is has been already been edited and we’ve already helped promote it. So it is a real cooperative relationship that we can have with our writers then.
Slashdot: Just make one thing clear: This is not a pay-for-writing site, is it?
Rikki: Right. It is not. It is a non-profit site. We don’t have that author budget. So that’s why I wouldn’t - if you are trying to make a living as a tech journalist, and when I was a tech journalist I did write for Opensource.com but not very often because I had ideas that I did want to reach the audience, and I did want to participate in the community and so I did write a couple of times. But if you are trying to make a living as a journalist, you are probably not going to want to spend your time writing for opensource.com. But like I’ve told my journalist friends, there are a lot of stories that you want to cover, that you can’t because you can’t sell them, and if that’s when you want to write, we will give you that platform, or you can help tell people in these other communities that they can send their stories to us, and we will help them get that done.
Slashdot: You know, it is actually more the person who is in the tech world, the developer for instance, software developers, and their English skills may need a little work.
Rikki: Absolutely, yes.
Slashdot: To be put out in public. And you are saying that that person, for whom publications, a little publication here and there, can be very very career boosting.
Slashdot: But you guys help make it better English.
Rikki: Absolutely yes. From the very beginning of my career, I have worked with non-native English speakers, so I actually really enjoy editing those articles because they are a little more challenging and so they are fun for me. And then the writers are very excited because they get a chance to proofread it, and make sure that we didn’t change their meanings, and then they have writing examples that they can use now for their website, or to send to friends or family or some other site or whatever—awesome!
Rikki: It is really awesome! And we have community moderators, and those are volunteer positions, and they are hugely helpful also. It is not just our small team in the office and you can see on the website, they are on the team page, and there are about 20 of them, I think, right now.
Rikki: And they are around the world and they have different backgrounds, different skill sets, I think at least one is retired, some are freelancers, some work for companies, there are some developers, there is a CEO I think, and they have been hugely helpful for us also because they help us reach different communities that might not hear about us or might not think of contributing. So we are just expanding internationally a lot more, because we still have very we still feel a lot more North American content coming in and so we are trying to spread that out a lot more that last month we always try to have at least 65% of the content contributed by non-Red Hatters. And the more the better. And last month, we had 74% of the content, it was from the community, international community, so that’s pretty awesome.