I've read the on-topic guide for this site, but I'm curious if asking a question like "How can I promote my open source software that does X" could be on topic here? I'm wondering if this would be an acceptable form of question under the guideline:

how communities collaborate together to produce, distribute, market and sometime monetize these projects

Would such a question be on topic here?

  • 4
    "How can I promote my open source software that does X?" Is too broad. Questions need to be focused. Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 0:54

4 Answers 4


There could be a few problems with a question like this:

  1. It's a very open-ended idea generation question. There are no "right" or "wrong" answers. How would you know which one to pick as "accepted answer" when all answers have good ideas and are equally valid? How would I decide which one to upvote and which one to downvote? This makes it a bad fit for the Stackexchange system.
  2. It's a problem which is either very localized or overly broad. Every software product is different, has a different target audience and a different business model.
  3. It's not really open source specific. Just because the software is open source doesn't mean you need to market it in a different way. Most end-users don't care anyway about the difference between free as in beer and free as in freedom.

But if you can phrase your question in a way which

  1. Allows answers which can be objectively confirmed of falsified
  2. Is helpful for a wide audience
  3. Is asking about aspects unique to open source software

then go for it.

  • 1
    Thanks for the response. I agree with point 1, provided that the stackexchange site doesn't make an exception to permit this type of system. Software recommendations is one example where there is an exception. But yeah I pretty much agree with your points, which is why I sought community input as a new guy. +1
    – user3570
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 17:36

It would be on-topic, but might fail for other reasons. Curiousdanii already said that a simple question would be too broad. Still it would be possible, if you ask a specific question about marketing OSS.

There is another pitfall: promoting OSS might not be as different as promoting other software. Although the promotion could include OSS-specific parts, for instance a call to change the software for own needs or a bughunt and fix competition.These two would be at least very difficult with proprietary software.

  • 1
    Yeah I guess the question I have in mind is seeking general insight into how people have marketed OSS in the past and how it might be applied today. I find already with the stuff I push to say github, it's rather difficult to get any traffic without arbitrarily spamming/self promoting in different ways. It is indeed a tricky type of question to frame well enough to generate real, constructive answers instead of just "post it at http://... " type of answers.
    – user3570
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 21:30

Specify the area/type of software you have in mind. Ask for examples of successful projects in the same/similar areas, and what they did (right/wrong) to explain their preeminence.

Note that often the answer will include external factors (i.e., Linux' success was at least in part due to the looming lawsuits around free Unix in the form of the BSDs in the crucial initial years), personality traits of the people involved, general knowledge of the tools used, ...


As long as you've got a good quality question, then...

Yes, yes and Yes!

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