5 Quick & Relatively Easy SEO Fixes for your WordPress site

 I spend hours every day working on multiple sites in multiple industries and over the last year or so I’ve discovered the following potential issues when a site is not ranking on the SERP’s as expected. This is not a guarantee in any way that you will suddenly hit page 1 by making these changes but it does give you a bit of a head start while working on other concerns like quality, relevant content and building a loyal social media following.
  1. Are you Sandboxed?
    There is some debate out there about whether or not there is actually a Google Sandbox, I for one believe there is something out there in the Googlesphere that puts baby in the corner until it’s confident it will do no harm.
  2. Are  you up to speed?
    • shoot for 3 seconds or less on page speed – check gtmetrix.com or https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
    • once you are done with all the design/content go get Wp smush-it or some sort of image compression plugin and reduce size of your images
    • go through all the plugins on the site and make sure you delete any you aren’t using – I sometimes will install plugins to try them out then forget to remove them when I make a decision.. so clear out all the unused plugins
    • minify your css and js
  3. Are you Mobile friendly?
    • https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly – check sites for mobile friendliness
    • https://developers.google.com/speed/docs/insights/ConfigureViewport – confirm that the mobile viewport is <meta name=viewport content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>
    • avoid minimum-scale, maximum-scale, user-scalable in the viewport declaration (some of the WordPress themes actually have user-scalable in the viewport declaration so make sure to remove that) – it’s an accessibility issue and seems to make a difference on how mobile friendly Google thinks your site is…
  4. Too Many Plugins?
  5. Submit that sitemap

WordPress Child Theme Tip: Featured Image as background or default image as background

Recommended skill: child themes. some php understanding and definitely css

In today’s adventures in child theming I was asked to have either a default image or the featured image appear in the banner as a background image on individual blog pages for the Eptima Lite theme. I’m sure there are easier ways to do this but this particular solution worked extremely well after a few hours of reading and digging through multiple “ways” to do it. I always create a child theme when asked to make any changes to an established site. The client had picked their theme already and just wanted a few changes made, no need to create a theme from scratch with Bones  (which I’ve done in the past).

the following information is based on the assumption that you already have a child theme setup. If you haven’t already done so make a copy of the header.php from the main theme (in this case Eptima Lite) and put it in your child theme directory.

In your header.php add the following code:

A little explanation:

This code block here is saying IF the post has a featured image display it

Otherwise display a default image:

And this is where the image is converted to a background image (if you don’t include this line it’s added to the html as an img src which is difficult to stretch for a banner)

You will need to add padding or height for your image to display since it is now a background image :)

You can use background-size: cover as well to get the background image to fill your element.

I will add more to this post if I discover a better way to achieve the same thing.

 

Three reasons why PubCon is a must attend for the online marketer

It’s Sunday morning after PubCon week in Las Vegas (Nov. 8-11, 2010). I couldn’t sleep the night after the show was over, my mind was just racing with new ideas to implement at work.  I have been in the web industry since the early 90’s. Primarily working on websites both as a designer and a programmer. I got active in Open Source in 2001 and had my first exposure to community driven software. I’ve always had an interest in but never really pursued the advertising/marketing side of the web. I knew I was supposed to design or code to certain specifications to help with ranking.  I never really understood.

For the past couple years I have secretly been following aka stalking top names in SEO/SEM and online marketing. Reading every blog post I can get my eyeballs on, watching every video I’m aware of and absorbing all I can. It was a lonely existence as my ex-boyfriend thought all this internet marketing/social media was a waste of time. He’d scoff when I’d tell him something new and exciting in the industry. Facebook is a waste of time, twitter will die and there is no value in networking. So I sat at my computer or in the book store and read all I can to try and keep myself up-to-speed but couldn’t really talk to anyone else about my passion. I can regurgitate just about anything related to SEO/SEM and Social Media. Did I understand it? Only partially Did I feel it was a black art? Oh hell yeah.

Although there are tons of fantastic write ups about the sessions at PubCon (my first online marketing conference) there aren’t as many about the other aspects of attending an online marketing conference. PubCon has been growing and growing and if you are an SEO/SEM or handle PPC you MUST make this conference a requirement. PubCon 2010 had 3000 registrants! Up from 100 or so in 2002!! Shows you how much this industry is growing!

I’m writing this from a holistic view ( but I’ll add links in a separate post for the sessions so you can dig in a bit deeper for the specifics you want/need. If you are like me you want to absorb all you can and stay ahead of the game)

Knowing you are not alone

We all spend a lot of time on our computers and smart phones. In apps and browsers digging up information or communicating with friends, family and associates. For most of us our families and friends do not share the same interest and don’t get the terminology of the intent of this industry. When I left the show on Thursday I KNEW I had at least 2999 other people who believed in and made their living in this industry. I had made connections with the movers and shakers and my belief in this industry as a whole and it’s longevity was validated.

Dispel those horrible myths or untruths on the web

Although there are areas in this field that engender some argument or debate there are quite a few aspects that everyone can agree on. Sitting in a session and listening to one of my online SEO/SEM heroes repeat in person what they had written about in their blog somehow made any future blog posts that I will read much more valuable. Looking at someone in the eyeball and having them tell you something in person (that you read online) and knowing they are telling the truth is irreplaceable.

Network Learning

The Q&A sessions at the conference were the most valuable part of the whole show. There were multiple times when some other person in the audience asked the panel a question I was going to ask (back to the ‘not being alone’) and the answer cleared up what I was going to ask plus other aspects I didn’t even think about! Sitting at a table in the “lunch” room and listening in on conversations that provided new insight into the industry from various perspectives was a tremendous advantage.

The PubCon conference not only taught me more about the industry as a whole but it provided validation and a sense of community.

The biggest thing I took away from this event was to be proactive and not reactive in response to the uber speedy changes in the internet marketing space.

Coming soon! People to follow and the best sessions at PubCon

Effective Solutions to In-House SEO, PPC and Campaigns

@LauraLippay (works @ Yahoo!)

2/3 of online search users are driven to perform searches as a result of exposure to some offline channel

$13 Million Hyundai Super Bowl Ad

Hot Trends in Google Search.

During the Super Bowl -‘edit your own” and ‘hyundai’ were “hot trends” – if you did a Google search for Edit your Own the ad nor Hyundai site showed up. Missed opportunity

We are still not connecting offline with online.

SEO as a marketing channel like Television, Direct Mail, Print, Internet, Radio, and Outdoor

SEO has rich web development background.

What can I do?

Integrating search into marketing campaigns. Hasn’t been able to find good examples of this integration. Some aspects of SEO and SEM has to connect with marketing.

Campaign strategy meetings – your SEO can tell you, if there is opportunity in search for this – there is no target market or there is opportunity.

Organic ranking for external advertising

Marketing

PPC <—-SEO Strategy

Engineering

Technical SEO

Agency

SEM needs to be recognized as an integrated marketing channel

SEO/M needs to be looped into campaign strategy meetings for clients

SEM can determine search marketing cost and opportunity

An SEO’s Tale @alli12
Allison Fabella

Launches a site, traffic goes up – Rock Star

Then traffic went down – not a Rock Star anymore

Common Offenders:

Flash

Good Solution: Speak Geek
Speak Money (competitors are getting organic search results)

Solutions: Include All Stakeholder in the discussion

Hit them in the wallet

Suggest Actionable Alternative

Robots.txt

Canonical Tags
Site Map (what can go wrong)
Incorrect Url
Incorrect sitemap protocol
Invalid date, tags, URL
Incorrect sitemap type in GWT

Be the detective

Solutions

Regular meetings with stakeholders:
-Daily or weekly
-Review upcoming & completed changes
-Carefully review code BEFORE launch

Topher Kohan

(does SEO for CNN & Turner Broadcasting)

Build evangelist

ID your support staff

Company
Division
Team

Outside:

Agencies
Contacts
Friends

Build a support network

Evangelize for SEO within the organization

They
Get it?
Wants to get it?
Gets excited by it?
Embraces it?

Find the Evangelist

Treat them as a Team
Conversations on what works and what doesn’t work

Never Stop:

Building them Up
Training Them
Improving the work flow
ID Problems
Getting help

 

Link value degradation

 

PubCon 2010 (LiveBlogging Intro)

November 9, 10 and 11 I will be LiveBlogging from the PubCon conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. PubCon is an Internet Marketing conference that features sessions led by industry experts in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Pay Per Click (PPC), internet marketing and website operation. All of these topics are extremely interesting to me and are part of my daily responsibilities at my day job.

I live in Henderson and work in downtown Las Vegas so this isn’t an out-of-town “trip” for me. I’m really excited anyway. I’ll get to meet some of the SEO/SEM and Social Media bloggers whose informative posts I’ve read, printed and utilized in my job as Webmaster. My job involves both organic search engine optimization and ppc (as well as the usual webmastery stuff like coding and design)

That said there are the sessions I’m planning on attending (this could change depending on how fast I am and how fast the sessions fill up).

1. Hardcore PPC Tactics
2. The Best Tactics in Landing Page Optimization
3. Effective Solutions to In-House SEO, PPC and Campaigns
4.  Enterprise Level Bid Management
5. Top Shelf SEO: Hot Topics and Trends

 

1. Local Search and Mobile Optimization
2. Keyword Research, Selection and Optimization
3. Social Media, Press Relations & Brand Management
4. Super Session: Search Engines and Webmasters

1. Convergence of Online Marketing and Analytics
2. Real World Low-Risk High-Reward Link Building
3. SEO 2010
4. Interactive Site Reviews: Focus on Organic
5. Advanced PPC and other Paid Online Media Strategies

I’ll be blogging from my recently acquired pink Sony Vaio :)

Follow twitter.com/snowwrite for blog posting updates

Or facebook.com/snowwrite

Losing Face: Is Facebook the next AOL?

The glass is half-full, yes that is my motto. Optimism is my middle name. That is until I talk to my significant other about Facebook. Oh and then all hell breaks loose and I sit patiently listening to all his rants about how Facebook is the next AOL. What will be the rage, next year? he asks. I shrug and say, “Does it matter?” He says,”Yeah but look at what happened with MySpace” he’ll retort. Not having much to say in response I stay quiet, but start to think about how the web has changed over my adulthood. There was no web as we know it when I was young (yeah yeah I know, I walked both ways to school, barefoot, in the snow and I was grateful)

There is something new and social every day. Our entrepreneurs (especially the highly technical ones) are holding hackathons and spitting out a new app virtually every weekend. Applications so you can shop with your friends online (Plurchase) or tell people where you are (Four Square) built with smart phones and mobility in mind.

In my 20’s and 30’s it took months to launch a new company. Now, it takes a weekend. Business plan? pshaw. Social network has become what the content management system(cms) became to web design. You don’t build a site without cms capabilities. You don’t build a site without social networking aspects. It’s expected.

So how does this relate to Facebook and AOL? Our experience in this digital world is much less solid than it was when our options were limited. It takes a heartbeat to encourage migration to a brand spanking new technology. No barrier to entry for anyone, so we can explore all the options. The problem is that without that barrier there is no loyalty, no investment in one application over another. I can setup a network over at Ning and tell all my friends to post and engage over there. What do I need Facebook for other than the mini-games? Alternatively I can setup a PLIGG site and do exactly the same type of thing that Facebook does, without the games. That isn’t the draw though is it? The ability to connect through various features on a site is not what draws us but the access to so many other people that are utilizing the same site. How flawed is this though? I’ve received notes from people telling me I’m triple posting because I make a comment on Twitter and it goes to both FriendFeed and Facebook (as well as Twitter). They follow me on all so they get to hear what I have to say in stereo. I enjoy Facebook because my adult children and friends are on there. Would I move to another social network if they did? Yep. Would I miss Facebook? probably not. I don’t care about the application I’m using as much as the people who are in the network. I’ve had a LinkedIn account since Beta and use it solely for business connections. There have been multiple “business network” sites that have come and gone since. Most of my connections are on LinkedIn no matter where else they are connected (Plaxo for example).

So what draws us to Facebook? Mass appeal. Johnny and Susie are on Facebook as are all my friends in my Book of the Month Club and my mom and my kids and so on and so on. That’s where the biggest similarity lies between Facebook & AOL, the mass appeal. Millions of people are on Facebook, millions of people were using AOL. It’s easy, it’s standard, it’s no fuss. Does that mean it’ll win over any other up-and-coming potential Facebook buster? If there is no barrier to entry, then no, Facebook could be the next AOL.

It’s eerie, I remember the sound of dial-up as I connected to AOL to check my email. The excitement of logging into a chat room on CompuServ to talk to my “friends” and finding myself there for hours and hours (sleep, who needs sleep?) and racking up my dial-up bill! We logged on, downloaded our email and read it offline (so we didn’t run up extra charges). Life online was limited by our budget. We couldn’t run down to the local coffee shop and access the web with our laptop.

Our lives on the web are changing at a breakneck speed. Where we spend our time online is getting more and more important as we are presented with more options. Facebook may be here today, but I’ll guarantee you it’ll be gone day after tomorrow. I’d love to see Facebook prove me wrong.

That’s not to say I don’t love Facebook myself, but I just don’t see how it’s going to hold up and remain ever vigilant once the honeymoon is over.

Interesting articles about Facebook and AOL.

Will Facebook be the next AOL?

The Problem with Facebook for Marketers – nice article on being cautious with the company page on Facebook.

Is Facebook todays Internet

What do you think? How is Facebook going to keep us all in the future?

Does your subclassed Plone product have metatype issues?

(dedicated to davisagli on Plone irc for taking the time to teach this old lady a new trick!)

Integrators are a special breed (if I do say so myself). Especially small-business-owning integrators who wear multiple hats, sometimes begrudgingly. One of those hats is troubleshooting issues that the client feels is important. The developers job is done and an issue has come up that was caused by a small change or request by the client, unrelated or a distant relation to the original specs for the project. It’s not really scope creep but it’s enough of an annoyance to the client that we as integrators are compelled to take care of it. We didn’t write the original product, maybe we hired someone or we are using a third-party product. Sometimes the actual solution is outside of our realm of knowledge so we seek out our peers to help us resolve it.

In this case we had a product called CaseStudy for a university. The CaseStudy product was subclassed from another content type (the File content type). The CaseStudy type was basically a file and a few fields so it made sense to subclass from that content type.

The product was installed and testing began. As part of the process a custom view would be implemented for the CaseStudy collection and for the CaseStudy project page. These were not an issue, views were created and added (I’ll write a post on how to add a custom view to your product and how to deal with multiple views).

There was one issue, when you clicked on an item (the link to open the CaseStudy project page) a download box would pop up. The expected result when clicking on the CaseStudy project page link was to go to the CaseStudy project page.

The quick & dirty Zope Management Interface fix was the following:

  1. Go to the ZMI
  2. Find portal_properties/site_properties
  3. find typesUseViewActionInListings field
  4. Add your content type – ours was CaseStudy
  5. Save changes

Now when we clicked on the link for our CaseStudy it went to the right view.

If you want to move this to your product so that the next time you install your product this will work correctly, do the following.

  1. In your ZMI go to portal_setup
  2. Click on the export tab
  3. Find Plone Properties (#15 on my setup)
  4. Click the checkbox next to Plone Properties
  5. Scroll down and select “Export Selected Steps”
  6. Save the file to your desktop
  7. Unpack the zip file and save the file (propertiestool.xml) to your desktop
    It will look like this:

So now you have something that looks like this, scary isn’t it?

For your own product you don’t have to include the entire base file from Plone’s propertiestool as long as you include purge=false within the property tag. The purge=false acts as a way to attach this new property name to the original properties file. If you don’t add purge=false you will break your properties because it will only use what you have included in your xml file.

Our propertiestools.xml file (in /profiles/default) looks like this:

I hope this helps someone. I’ll be making changes to this as I learn more about Generic Setup and using it to export/import steps.
Rather than adding your file to /profiles/default on your file system you can also import the propertiestool.xml file using the import tab in portal_setup.
I haven’t done that yet. I’ll add that direction once I have.

Self-employed during Depression 2.0: 6 ways to cut costs

We little guys struggle here amidst a tough economy just as much as the big guys. It’s time to look at our spending habits (if you haven’t already) and determine how we can cut costs and still get things done (whatever that means to your business).

1. Hardware – Save the earth and save some cash by purchasing second-hand computer bits. My favorite place to shop is Weird Stuff in Sunnyvale (they do ship some stuff). I’d be willing to bet there is a place like Weird Stuff in your area or in your nearest Metropolitan area. Especially now with so many companies going out of business there is a lot more selection and hardware that is only a generation or so behind. We’ve purchased at least a dozen servers at Weird Stuff and optimized them ourselves with bits we found at Weird Stuff and online. Solid machines at a budget price! Still going strong.

2. Office Space – If you need to work away from home due to the distractions of daily life then consider sharing an office with someone else. Office share can be beneficial in a few ways. Running our own business can be isolating and having someone to share ideas with or just split the cost on office sundries can help us feel a bit more connected to the outside world. Sharing an office also reduces overall cost. Look on craigslist.org or in local newspaper ads under real estate or rental. Have an office already and struggling to pay the monthly rent? Consider extending use of your office for a few hours a week to those who work-at-home so they can meet with clients in a professional setting.

3. Business Cards – one word – VistaPrint. I don’t hand out very many business cards these days because most of my dealings are via internet or smart phone. That said, it is essential for you, as a business owner, to carry some sort of contact information to hand to someone who may not be as tech-savvy. VistaPrint is inexpensive but I’ve found the quality is excellent. Don’t get fancy with your cards, save the money for online advertising.

4. Great customer service – Keeping clients happy is the most cost-effective way to promote your business. They say “word-of-mouth” is cheap but in all honesty you have to work hard to generate that buzz you need to elevate your business in the minds of your clients. A happy customer will tell one person and unhappy customer will tell ten people. Look at ways you can improve customer service (make an extra phone call, respond to email quickly or just make sure your customer knows that you care)

5. Start a cooperative – Do you know other business owners who are struggling? Can you get together and share costs and leads? Although cooperatives have been around for years there is a renewed interest in this business model. Depending on how the cooperative is setup they can share advertising costs, marketing costs and the cost of doing business on a daily basis. Not only does this reduce stress on the individual owners but it also encourages some really interesting collaboration.

6. Use Open Source – Do you really need that $2000.00 Adobe package? Shelling out another $300 to upgrade to the newest Windows OS? Try Open Source and you’ll see that you can still get the job done and save yourself $100’s a year in software costs. Don’t know of an Open Source alternative to your favorite program? Ask around, there are 1000’s of applications out there free to use that will meet your needs. Here is a great site to get started Open Source Alternatives. Take a look at distrowatch for the 100’s of linux distros currently available, find one that’ll meet your daily business needs. You can try them out using either VMWare or VirtualBox (I personally prefer VirtualBox). See my post about the Top five Open Source projects for daily use and the one I wrote about VirtualBox . Think outside the box and you can improve your small business chance at success.

Small business really took a hit when the economy tanked but that doesn’t mean it needs to stay down. Take a look at your current costs and you can find ways to weed out the deadwood and keep your business alive.

Please add your own suggestions for cost-cutting in your small business.

Will women programmers be extinct?

It’s well known and oft-times mentioned around the time a large technical convention is looming, there are not enough women in programming. I know, I’m a techie female and I know maybe half-a-dozen women in my chosen technology. As a mom of five daughters (and one son) I have just realized I’m contributing to this lack of interest in technology. Even though I’ve spent the last ten(10) years working with Open Source projects and talking about it, none of my girls are interested in the field at all.

They enjoy their online games and browsing their favorite sites and have absolutely no interest in learning how to program. They don’t care how it works, as long as it works. Trust me I’ve tried to engender interest in technology as a career and my attempts are met with indifference and yeah they actually scoff. All my kids are “creatives” and prefer to write, draw and entertain. My girls especially. My son failed Algebra 1 in community college 3 times! (sorry Jeremy) but he excelled in anything to do with writing & research.

So that is five girls/women who will not be entering into the technical field, unless they do like I did and shun anything remotely technical for the first 35 years of their life and THEN get interested. How many other families with girls are in the same boat?

What makes women less attracted to the programming field? For me it was all the usual stereotypes that were a deterrent. Programmers are anti-social and have no redeeming qualities whatsoever, other than the fact that they can create mind-boggling applications. Meh, I never really believed that but my genius father was very introverted and I could never understand his fascination with the “black box” on his computer screen. It seemed “boring” and lifeless to me. At the time I was full of life and didn’t want to stay still for very long. Off to rehearse or hang out with my friends. Maybe it was my extroversion, not my gender, that kept me from sitting down to learn how to program when I was young. How many girls were encouraged to spend time on the hair and the nails and the selection of an appropriate outfit. Not to mention the obligatory cooking lessons (yeah I hated those too). I wanted to sing and dance and play, programming seemed (at the time) the antithesis of all things lively. I’m social so programming seemed to go against my personality.

So how did it happen for me? The crossing over from ‘I will never touch a line of code’ to spending hours in the command line and an editor manipulating code? Uh, yeah, it was a man. A very, very geeky man. A stereotypical somewhat anti-social brilliant and so-much-like-my-father-it’s-eerie-man, man. When I met him ten years ago I was the typical stay-at-home-mom trying to start a web business web monkey. I thought I knew html and css. Ha, little did I know how little I knew.

I was pretty proud of what I’d taught myself. “Lookit hon, I can make a table inside a table and watch this” I’d say as the text would blink at us from the browser.

“C’mere” he’d say, “I’ll show you something”

He introduced me to Open Source. He showed me there was more to life than tags and Front Page.

My first project was to work within a php application and add html wrappers (and some css). It was boring and we spent hour after hour trying to get it right (it was a source forge style application). I was sure this project would be my first and my last foray into Open Source. Then it happened, we finished it and we got feedback and it was awesome. My heart wasn’t in it at first but when I saw the finished product I was so proud of what we’d accomplished. The pop-up help tool that I structured and styled was my pride and joy. I fell in love with Open Source. It wasn’t love at first sight, no, but it was a solid kind of love that kept me rooted and interested for the next ten years.

It’s a very lonely existence being one of only a dozen or so women in a project with 100’s of highly involved, highly intelligent men. We need more women involved, for my sanity and the sanity of the other women in the project.

How can we encourage more female participation? What could I have done to encourage my daughters to look at programming as an option? Is our familial lack of interest in anything math-like or scientific a huge contributor to our lack of interest in programming? How many other families discourage their girls from getting into math or science? How about the schools? Are the schools doing better with encouraging girls in the math/science area? We need to answer these questions now.

Although geekyness is not regarded as fringe anymore, so many more people are “geeks” these days there is still a stigma attached and young women are highly aware (care about) how they are perceived. Geekyness is next to sexiness?

I and many women like me who are involved in programming/engineering in some capacity are not entirely different from our non-programming counterparts, so what is it that draws us and not them?

Some interesting reading:

http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/columns/ten_easy_ways_attract_women_your_free_software_project

http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Encourage-Women-Linux-HOWTO/x106.html

http://dobbscodetalk.com/index.php?option=com_myblog&show=Women-in-Engineering-A-Hard-Problem.html&Itemid=29

What do you think? Is the programming field going to remain a “male profession”?

Open Source Development: Quality Assurance or Community?

Can we have both?

Open Source projects are built on the notion that a bunch of programmers who don’t know each other (at least initially) can work together to build software that will potentially be useful for as many people as possible (consider apache, samba, ubuntu and smtp). Open Source projects are usually made up of dedicated volunteers who want to change the world. So where does, “we want to change the world” move to “we want to change the world but only if certain criteria is met”.

Open Source projects are a lot like neighborhood play when I was a young (oh so long ago).

consider this scenario:

It’s Saturday, all the neighborhood kids are outside trying to find something fun to do.

David (the leader) says, “OK we are going to build a fort!”
Everyone jumps up and down and yells, ‘Yeah! Yeah! let’s build a fort!”
David decides, with agreement from the group, “OK this fort will be 2 stories high and…”
George pipes up and says, “I don’t think any of the trees can hold a 2 story high fort, daaavid” and rolls his eyes
“Fine, 1 story fort then” David says slightly dejected.

A slight pause and then with renewed excitement David yells, “ok? OK!! So Tommy you go get the sticks, Susie go get some sheets from your mom’s closet and Chris didn’t you have like tools or something in your garage? I’m sure your dad won’t mind!”

Just as the kids were about to rush off to get materials Billie, David’s very best friend, strolls over to the group.
“Uh oh” Susie whispers to George
“Yeah remember last time he helped us! He fell down and broke the fort, we had to start all over!” remarked George
“yeah but when we rebuilt it we had a tv and fridge and stuff in there that Billie setup, it was the coolest fort ever” Susie whispered.

So what did we do when the kid who ‘ruined’ everything came by? We patted him on the back and welcomed him to the project and then made sure his shoelaces were tied. We had the coolest forts ever.

Open Source projects attract all types of people, from the end-user who downloads and uses the software but doesn’t say anything at all to the world-changing rock star of a programmer who can take a project from so-so to irresistible. Then there are those of us who fall in the middle. We download the software and use it. We like it so much we figure out how to do really neat things with it. We tell other people about the project and they go download it and do stuff with it and talk to you about what they’ve done. These are not core developers but what I like to call “integrators”, people who really appreciate what the project has to offer. People who are not involved in the creation of the software but who take the core functionality and adapt it fit our requirements, whether it’s for a client business process or for our own project.

Then we want to contribute. We spend our free time creating an add-on product or writing documentation or creating screencasts to help the project and the community “grows”. After all we want as many people as possible to know about our project. We hold events to promote the project and feel like we are part of this community even if we don’t actually write the code that makes it work. We contribute in our own ways.

The world is changing on an hourly basis now, not daily. The way we did something last week is no longer applicable this week.

How do we ensure that the project stays “current” and keep the community strong by encouraging contribution? Or is that even possible?

Those of us who “integrate” feel trapped between the desire to help the project and further the community and the speed at which the project is developing, leaving us gasping for air as we try to keep up with changes.

Which is more important for an Open Source project, the strength of it’s community or the quality of the project?