Spreading the ChiliProject Word

Update (7.11.11 22:11): Updated the post with a link to the “ChiliProject – Spread the word” thread in the ChiliProject forums which holds most of the points I’ve dicussed at RailsCamp HH and the RUG::B.

I’ve been to two Ruby and Ruby on Rails focused events in the past week, first to the RailsCamp Hamburg 2011, then to the monthly meeting of the RUG::B (the Ruby User Group Berlin), and while I didn’t expect ChiliProject to be as well known as some other big or popular projects, I was somewhat astonished and maybe even a little disappointed to see how little even its name was known. It seems to me that public knowledge and being on people’s mind is something that we need to work on more than any technical or feature-wise improvements (don’t get me wrong: those are important too, but pretty useless if no one uses them…).

It really hit me last saturday at the RailsCamp when the schedule for the day was being discussed. When it was my turn to propose my talk (I had naturally prepared a short one about ChiliProject and why we had forked Redmine), I first asked how many people had heard of ChiliProject, then how many didn’t know Redmine. I estimate there were some 100-130 people present, and the answer to both questions was less than ten. Now I didn’t expect more than half the people present to know about ChiliProject, but less than 10% is a really small mindshare.

The interest wasn’t overwhelming either, but I credit that to my somewhat clumsy introduction to the matter and the very strong lineup otherwise than to sheer disinterest, so the talk turned into a discussion with people already using Redmine that have gone a little worried about the project and who were glad to hear about someone “picking up the slack”, even if it was in the form of a fork.

Then came the RUG::B. I had planned on going anyway and decided to try to spread the word about ChiliProject there. I reworked the presentation to be more focused on the technical and community reasons behind the fork (the slides aren’t available online as some slides might be misinterpreted without the presentation, the gist of the presentation’s arguments can be found in this “ChiliProject – Spread the word” thread in the ChiliProject forums) and presented it to the 30-odd people present. The preliminary question got roughly the same answer as on the RailsCamp, the interest and response were great though, including specific questions regarding the intended “community management” style and praise and admiration for having the guts to fork instead of just “giving up”.

All in all, I think those two visits showed me that we still have a lot of work to do in the mindshare area. The visibility of ChiliProject will rise when the new design (current design proposal here, not final yet) is released and deployed on some high-profile installations, but this probably won’t be enough. In addition to that, I plan on going to some european conferences during the next year (wroc_love.rb, Railsberry and the EuRuKo) and hold presentations or at least lightning talks about ChiliProject. Interesting times! :–)