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January 26th, 2016

Building a FOSS Force Community

In the last couple of years we’ve begun to notice that in addition to the folks who visit FOSS Force on a regular basis to read our articles, we’re starting to see a community develop. We mainly see this in the comments sections at the bottom of each article, where many of you have become regulars by posting often, agreeing or disagreeing with our articles, and offering ideas from your own experience.

To us, it feels as if those of you who contribute your thoughts and ideas by regularly commenting have become a part of our site, a community of people who publicly represent what FOSS Force is about, just as much as Larry, Hunter, Ken, Isaac and the rest of us who write and produce the site. In other words, you’ve become a part of who we are, and although we have never met you, we feel as if you are friends of ours.

Let’s build on that, shall we? Let’s celebrate you, the community of readers who congregate and express yourselves through comments on our site, and make you an even more important part of FOSS Force than you already are. In other words, let’s do a little old fashioned community building.

We’re dead serious about this. To get started, to get our feet wet and test the waters so to speak, we’ve created a perk for our fundraising campaign that we’re hoping will get the ball rolling. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the coolest perk yet. and I’m convinced it will be a game changer for FOSS Force down the road. It’s also more than just a perk. It’s something that will continue long after our fundraiser is one for the history books.

What we’re doing is offering a membership — for now we’re calling it the Frequent Commenter Membership, but we’ll probably change the name later — which will basically offer those who sign up a user account on FOSS Force. You’ll get a username and password, and when you login to your account you’ll be awarded a few member privileges.

Here’s what members will get right away:

  • Ad free viewing: We know that many of you would rather not see ads when you visit FOSS Force, but advertising revenue is necessary if we are to keep the bills and our writers paid so that the site can remain online. With a membership, however, the ads will go away as soon as you login to the site. Even if you’re already using adblocking software and don’t see the ads on our site anyway, this is a good deal, since your membership contribution will be making-up for the revenue we lose when people block ads.
  • No CAPTCHA: As mentioned above, the main way that readers presently interact with us at FOSS Force is by commenting on our content, and we’ve heard from many of you that sometimes navigating through the necessary anti-spam CAPTCHA to post a comment is a pain in the you-know-where. With a membership, when you login to your account you will no longer need to bother going through a CAPTCHA or filling in any of your personal information. All you’ll need do is type your comment, click “Post,” and you’re done. Even your username will automatically be filled in for you.

  • Advance preview of polls and quizzes: In nearly all cases, we will make our polls and quizzes available to our members for about a day before they’re available publicly. In some cases, such as a poll dealing with a breaking news issue, this might not be feasible, but in most cases, you’ll get to vote early — and get an early look at our quizzes.

    After we signup a few members, this “early voting” on polls will not only be a cool benefit for you, but will benefit FOSS Force as well, because when we write articles introducing polls to our public readership, we’ll be able to point to early indicators from “member voting,” so you’ll be helping us out.

That’s what we’re offering from the get-go with our Frequent Commenters Membership. But as our membership numbers increase, we plan to grow this into something even more vital to our site, and more engaging for you. Here’s just a couple of the things we already have planned:

  • “Members only” discussion topics: This should happen pretty soon, as we figure we only need ten or so members to get it going. At first this will be pretty simple: Once per week we’ll pin a discussion topic to the top of our front page that can only be seen by logged-in members. After our membership grows a little larger there will be more, as we will be asking for discussion on issues that we are covering in articles on the site.

    We think this could eventually have a positive affect on the greater FOSS macrocosm. You’re a pretty smart bunch and we can see this aspect turning into something of a FOSS Force Community Think Tank. Your discussions could make a difference and help shape the future of FOSS. Now wouldn’t that be cool?

  • Member articles: Again, after we get enough members, we’ll open things up and start letting members submit articles that would be available for other members to read. We know there are plenty of you who like to write, and this would offer you the chance to write about FOSS subjects you think aren’t being covered properly by the FOSS press. Although most of these articles would run only for members to read, we’re certain that we’ll green light some of your work to appear publicly on FOSS Force as well.

Lets do it. Let’s build a community around FOSS Force.

I’m not going to make a hard sell here, because that’s not what this is about, but if you like FOSS Force and our approach to free and open source software, and would like to help us build a community around our site, we happily welcome you aboard. If you want to help us get started, just go to our Indiegogo page and choose the Frequent Commenter Membership as your perk. It’ll cost you $25, but we think it’s worth it, especially when you consider that your contribution helps FOSS Force keep the bills paid.

There’s one other thing you can do to help us get this started — brainstorm with us. If you have any ideas about things we could do as our membership program grows, start now by letting us know in the comments below. I guarantee we’ll be paying close attention.

We’re currently in the midst of our 2016 Indiegogo fundraising drive. Your support is crucial. Won’t you please visit our fundraising page and make a contribution to support FOSS Force?

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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26 comments to Building a FOSS Force Community

  • Charles Kravetz

    Where is the fundraiser link this time? It makes it harder to get there without it.

  • Ooops! I’ll get it right up.

    In the meantime, it’s http://igg.me/at/foss-force/x/10540979

  • Wow…now this is a great thing, and long after it was a perk, it will be a core of some of the smartest people I associate with. You know…the ones that don’t end their sentences in a preposition? Yeah, those folks.

    Nice addition Christine. I am enjoying the company of these folks more and more, on or off of FOSS Force.

  • archuser

    Sad but true, money is the driving force for most things we do in life, how nice would it be to have a world without control , world without money, I guess reducing population drastically is the way or developing technologies that will help us to master space then resources will be limitless.

  • tracyanne

    No CAPTCHA: Does that mean I won’t have to navigate past that god awful just to very that you are humn captcha thing th at continually stops me accessing the fossforce website?

  • @tracyanne Unfortunately, no. Our firewall is presenting you with a CAPTCHA when you’re coming to our site because you’re using a VPN with an IP address that’s been blacklisted because it’s been known to be used by bots for the purpose of launching DDOS attacks. This isn’t your fault, and it’s not the fault of the VPN. But unfortunately, as long as you’re using that particular VPN with that particular IP address there’s not much we can do, other than take our shields completely down, which wouldn’t be a good idea for us to do.

  • tracyanne

    @Christine, FOSS force is the only site I visit, that does this to me, and I visit a hell of a lot of sites, using that VPN, and not just Linux and technology oriented ones either.

  • @tracyanne Unfortunately, because of the nature of our site, we have had to fend off a lot of DDOS attacks, so we’ve had to take measures to not only make sure that our site stays up and available to you, but also so that we don’t get with a huge bandwidth bill, which has happened in the past.

    I understand that this is a drag for you, but an IP never gets blacklisted until it’s been used in a DDOS attack, at which point we need to make sure that traffic coming from the site is not part of a botnet.

  • tracyanne

    @Christine, that, fending off DDOS attacks could apply to many if not most of the sites I visit, like Techdirt, or Aljaziera I’m sure there’s plenty of people/organisations that don’t like them either. But clearly there’s noting I can do but put up with it or piss off.

  • Mindaugas

    25 bucks? I think Man, are you kidding me?

  • @Mindaugas The $25 isn’t really a charge for the membership. Its something that comes free with a $25 contribution, which we need. It’s our way of saying thank you for you support.

    I understand that this is a subtle difference, but it’s a big difference nonetheless.

  • Cliff Jones

    Christine, your last email “welcome to our new member community” has a bad link. The ‘read more’ link lands on a white page with the number 1 in the upper left hand corner.

  • Hello Christine. Maybe in the near future i will paid $25. Have a nice day 🙂

  • @Mindaugas If you do, your contribution will be very appreciated. And as we build our membership base, we plan to add some very cool ways for our community members to be involved. 🙂

  • Cliff Jones

    I have to get some money into my paypal, then I’ll chip in. …that is if indiegogo accepts paypal without a credit card. I haven’t checked. But I have been thwarted in giving donations elsewhere because even though using paypal, the site used a form of paypal that requires a credit card. (paypal itself discriminates along this lie)

    I don’t have a credit card, or a bank account for that matter.

    BTW, and sorry to hijack the thread, but @Ken Starks: do you have a published guideline as to what sort of equipment you accept at reglue? I have some computers I could mail you but eg one has no RAM, a laptop requires an external kbd because the “r” key on the lappy is busted, etc etc.

  • @Cliff Indeed, you can contribute to our Indiegogo campaign by using funds in your PayPal account. And let me thank you in advance for your support. 🙂

  • Cliff, thanks. The guidelines on our website are not current so thank you for reminding me to get that done.

    On desktops, we prefer a dual core machine. Laptops ditto and we prefer them from the Vista area forward, but nicer XP-era machines are most welcome. Again Cliff, thanks for helping us do what we do.

  • Cliff, I didn’t answer your questions completely. RAM, hard drives and keyboards we can replace, and most times we have that stuff laying around so we can get a donated laptop up and running at no current costs. Of course, Liquid-damaged machines are scrap 95% of the time so we do not accept those often unless the screens are needed.

  • Cliff Jones

    I might have 2-3 machines that fit the bill. Possibly more. And maybe even more in future. Send me an email directly so’s we can take this off board.

    Thanks.

    Cliff
    (I assume you have access to the email address I use to post here?)

    ~sorry, everyone, for the hijack… =:^\

  • @Cliff We keep our commenters email addresses locked up in a vault in Fort Knox — we value your privacy that much. But with your permission, Cliff, I’ll send your email address to Ken. It’s a good cause you’re helping when you help Reglue.

  • Cliff Jones

    Please do, thanks.

    But you’re scaring me… but please tell me you’re MORE secure than Fort Knox! Someone emptied that place decades ago and I don’t think the feds even know it yet.

    So… we need a chat board or something around here. I feel like I’m tight-roping across Niagara without a pole, turning a thread like this so far off course.

  • @Cliff Logged in members will have access to some sort of chat or private messaging as soon as our member base gets large enough to warrant it. 🙂

  • Cliff Jones

    BTW I made a donation and realized afterward it’ll show as coming from an “Ian” Jones. That’s my son. He forwards donations through paypal for me on occasion. Hope that doesn’t mess up the paperwork…

  • @Cliff First let me thank you for your contribution.I found your contribution, but it’s to a different email than you’re using here. As I’ll be needing to get in touch with you about your subscription, which email do you prefer?

  • Cliff Jones

    This one. the catseverywhere at devbriggs dot com I’m using here. I have at least a dozen accounts, I should trim that back a bit I suppose.

  • @Cliff Great. I’ll be in touch with you, maybe later today but most likely tomorrow. 🙂

    Again, thank you for your contribution.