March 17, 2010

The Most Powerful Voices in Open Source

The Open Source community has many influential and important people. Yet some individuals tend to hold a bigger megaphone than the rest of us. Some of these people are well recognized while others exist in open source niches. But collectively they’re all the most vocal, followed and re-posted open source commentators in the community today. These are people you need to know.

In compiling our ranking of the most powerful voices in open source, we struggled to find the appropriate metrics to measure both broadcast power and profundity. After some lengthy discussions, we decided to create a Most Powerful Voices (MPV) formula to use as a yardstick. We finally settled on seven key dimensions based on input from a number of third party sites.

I believe we got the MPV formula right by asking the right questions.

We first set out to determine reach by examining the number of followers and buzz an individual has on sites like Twitter and Google. We then needed to determine how much impact an individual had with their followers and subscribers. We asked questions like: How often were they retweeted? How much buzz is created around their blog posts, tweets, and other messages? How often is the individual referenced in the blogosphere? Were they cited by influential people?

The MPV formula illustrates how much additional broadcast power an individual has versus an average active person (defined below). For example, Tim O’Reilly has 1.4 million times more broadcast power reach than the average person, while Mark Hinkle has a respectable 55 times more broadcast power than average.

The Top 20 Most Powerful Voices in Open Source

(see the table below for #21 – #50 and the top 10 per category)

MindTouch_most_powerful_voices

On Linus Torvalds

We actually debated whether to include Linus Torvalds due to his inactivity online. Torvald’s blog and Twitter feed are more about his family than open source communiqués. Yet we ultimately decided to include him because when he does communicate he generates a lot of attention. In fact, his recent purchase of a Google Nexus One generated an off the charts response.

The Rest of the Top 50

Keep in mind the High/Low rankings are relative to the others on the list. That means everyone on the list has a much higher criteria impact than the average active person. Note, most of the seven dimensions that make up the MPV are from the past 90 days.

Rank Name Followers Listed Open Source Blog Buzz Web Buzz MPV Score

1

Tim OReilly (@timoreilly) 1,430,436 8739 Low Medium 1,400,659

2

Linus Torvalds 5826 382 Scorching Scorching 25,823

3

Chris Messina (@chrismessina) 20380 1383 Low Very High 14,776

4

Jonathan Schwartz (@OpenJonathan) 12462 679 Medium Very High 10,046

5

Miguel de Icaza (@migueldeicaza) 11050 1031 High Very High 7,159

6

Glenn Hilton (@glennhilton) 28217 1185 Low Low 3,251

7

@glynmoody / Glyn Moody 3219 329 Medium High 3,224

8

Matt Asay (@mjasay) 5593 322 Medium High 3,006

9

Dries Buytaert (@dries) 5414 739 Low High 2,859

10

Guido van Rossum (@gvanrossum) 8756 777 Medium High 2,845

11

Christian Scholz (@mrtopf) 2207 105 Low Very High 2,820

12

Simon Phipps (@webmink) 2244 149 Medium Very High 2,640

13

Jono Bacon 4193 542 Low High 2,386

14

Ozgur Yuksel 17453 160 Low Low 2,330

15

Shelly Roche 16760 616 Low Medium 2,272

16

Randal L. Schwartz (@merlyn) 6204 765 Medium Medium 2,210

17

Channy Yun 4770 389 Low Medium 1,992

18

Rod Johnson (Spingrod) 2779 236 Low High 1,894

19

Chris DiBona (@cdibona) 9068 663 Low Medium 1,713

20

Landon Cox 18435 303 Low Low 1,696

21

Stéphane ROBERT (@WebDevOnLinux) 5363 506 Low Medium 1,628

22

Michael Coté (@cote) 3656 207 Low Medium 988

23

William Hurley 7726 205 Low Medium 980

24

John Lilly 2609 230 Low Medium 954

25

Sébastien Bilbeau 4249 363 Low Low 952

26

Marten Mickos 1314 109 Low Medium 931

27

Miriam Tuerk 6642 455 Low Medium 843

28

Atul Chitnis (@achitnis) 2439 168 Low Low 784

29

Ryan Paul (@segphault) 1789 171 Low Medium 711

30

Nat Friedman (@natfriedman) 2183 194 Low Medium 611

31

Guido Jansen 3543 94 Low Medium 561

32

Sam Ramji (@sramji 792 81 Medium Medium 424

33

David Schlesinger (@stonemirror) 1231 237 Low Medium 417

34

@ajturner / Andrew Turner 2019 184 Low Medium 372

35

John Dalton 5201 31 Low Medium 335

36

Chris Harvey (@gnuchris) 4847 84 Low Medium 326

37

Boris Mann (@bmann) 2428 211 Low Medium 299

38

Tim Kissane 6376 127 Low Low 268

39

Pia Waugh (@piawaugh) 2207 104 Low Low 246

40

Alon Swartz 4697 161 Low Low 223

41

Cheryl McKinnon (@CherylMcKinnon) 1988 117 Low Low 216

42

Brian Leroux (@brianleroux) 1921 116 Low Low 185

43

Lynne Pope (@elpie) 2140 125 Low Low 121

44

Jennifer Conley (@jenniferconley) 1798 93 Low Low 115

45

Rami Taibah (@rtaibah) 2483 97 Low Low 105

46

Aaron Roe Fulkerson (@roebot) 1781 111 Low Low 87

47

Mustafa K. Isik (@codesurgeon) 2711 111 Low Low 72

48

Jason Mayfield 5313 20 Low Low 70

49

John LeMasney (@lemasney) 2569 51 Low Low 62

50

Mark Hinkle 1268 159 Low Low 55

Follow the top 50 on Twitter with one click

Tim O’Reilly emerged uncontested, as the most powerful voice in open source by a very large margin. But there were a few surprises. Leo Laporte didn’t make the list (due to it not being his primary focus) while his FLOSS Weekly compadres Randal L. Schwartz and Jono Bacon did. Unfortunately only six women made the top 50. Such open source notables like Zack Urlocker, Jim Zemlin, Matt Aslett, Paula Hunter, Steve Purkiss and Savio Rodriguez narrowly missed making the list only to be outdone by their more social media savvy competitors.

Please note our ranking is not the final word on the subject but the beginning of a discussion. For example, does Tim O’Reilly really have more impact on open source than Linus Torvalds? Should Matt Asay be ranked higher than Chris Messina? Why isn’t Larry Augustin on the list? Did we miss anyone? What did we get wrong? Please give us your thoughts by commenting below.

Other MPV Criteria

  • Must be an active social media individual now (Buzz metrics were taken from last 90 days).
  • We didn’t include corporate twitter accounts. We’re looking for the voice of the individual.
  • Their primary focus is within the open source community.
  • We removed Irrelevant hits where necessary such as those for similarly-named individuals.
  • We’re defining the average active person as an active internet user with an average level of impact, influence and use of social tools.

Are you one of the Top 50 “Most Powerful Voices in Open Source”?

Add this badge to your site or blog to let people know that you are one of the most powerful voices in the open source community.

MindTouch Most Powerful Voice

<a href="http://bit.ly/mvp-blog" title="MindTouch Most Powerful Voice"><img src="http://cdn.mindtouch.com/blog/mpv-badge.png" alt="MindTouch Most Powerful Voice" border="0" ></a>

MindTouch Most Powerful Voice

<a href="http://bit.ly/mvp-blog" title="MindTouch Most Powerful Voice"><img src="http://cdn.mindtouch.com/blog/mvp-2badge.png" alt="MindTouch Most Powerful Voice" border="0" ></a>

3rd Party Sources Used for Our MPV Rankings

Follow MindTouch on Twitter image Follow Mark Fidelman on Twitter

31 Responses to “The Most Powerful Voices in Open Source”

  1. The Most Powerful Voices in Open Source | MindTouch, Inc Blog | Open Hacking Says:

    [...] The Most Powerful Voices in Open Source | MindTouch, Inc Blog This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 17th, 2010 at 2:49 am and is filed under Linux, [...]

  2. Peter Friese Says:

    Interesting. I’m wondering why no-one from the Eclipse community (which no doubt is a very active OSS community) made it to this list. Have a look at http://wefollow.com/twitter/eclipse

  3. Steve Purkiss Says:

    Wow, thanks for the mention, and the reminder that I need to do more of it!

  4. Randal L. Schwartz Says:

    Thanks for the inclusion! I feel very honored to be listed alongside *my* heroes.

  5. Glenn Hilton Says:

    Thanks for the mention Mark. Much appreciated.

  6. Simon Phipps Says:

    Thanks for the listing, I’m honoured. Folks from the Free Software community are a notable omission here. Have you considered also factoring in identi.ca? Also, you may want to add Topsy to your list of sources, they are very good indeed.

  7. Russ Nelson Says:

    Wow. What a steaming heap of dung this is! I’ve been on the board of the open source initiative since the beginning of open source, I’ve attended OSCON most of those years, I’ve written some major open source software, and I have NO IDEA who half these people are. No idea. “Most Powerful Voices?” Feh.

  8. Chris Messina Says:

    Wow, that’s kind of insane.

    Must be all those tweets about what I’m having for breakfast. ;)

    Thanks!

  9. MDP Says:

    Russ - thanks for your reply. There are many suprising names on the list indeed, and the fact that there are quite a few ‘unknowns’ is a testament to what makes the open source community great - contributors at all levels and geographies have a voice - and should be recognized and applauded for flying the OSS flag.

  10. uberVU - social comments Says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by the_spinmd: @kdpaine A focus on open source, but interesting study of power of voice vs power of visibility: http://bit.ly/b0R3RH...

  11. MindTouch Announces the Most Powerful Voices in Open Source - Content Management System Blog, Latest news on Joomla, Drupal, Wordpress, Mod-x Says:

    [...] on the Most Powerful Voices in Open Source list, see the official announcement here and the blog post here. Filed under the category Misc Rating: 0.00 (login to vote) Tags open source web cms,  [...]

  12. Most Powerful Voices in Open Source « Jeff's Open Source Resource Says:

    [...] 17, 2010 in Community, Open Source, Ranting | Tags: Community, leadership, Open Source, trends This article on Mindtouch.com, written by Mark Fidelman, is being retweeted and reposted in countless places around the [...]

  13. hoodia gordonii Says:

    Just wanted to tell you that your post is not rendering correctly on the BlackBerry Browser. Anyway, I’m now on the RSS feed on my laptop, so it shows!

  14. Dana Blankenhorn Says:

    I am relieved I didn’t make this list as I’m just a reporter and not a player. The people to listen to are the players. I just cover the players and give people something to chew on at ZDNet.

    This list should be of interest and value to all reporters as it uncovers players you may not be aware of. If you know all 50, congratulations. If you don’t, bookmark this page.

  15. Shelly Roche Says:

    Wow, thanks for putting me on this list! Definitely others who deserve it more than I, though :)

  16. Christian Einfeldt Says:

    Sam Ramji does not belong on this list. He detracts from Free Open Source Software far more than he contributes to it.

  17. Las 50 voces más escuchadas del movimiento Open Source; ¿quién es el gran ausente? | Bitelia Says:

    [...] MindTouch, es una reconocida empresa de desarrollo de software open source dedicada a la creación de wikis corporativas. En esta ocasión hago mención de ella porque hace unas horas presentó en su blog una lista con las voces más poderosas del Open Source. [...]

  18. joe Says:

    This is …. if you think Chris DiBona who helms Summer of Code has little voice then you are listening wrong.

  19. Dr. R.C. YashRoy Says:

    Real power lies in quality of information rather than loudness or repetition of voice, in the end. For exammple, voice of Mahatma Gandhi was weak and meek but very powerful. No body claims to have heard God’s voice, but Its Message is very powerful. Mostly,it is shallow-filled pitcher that can make more noise than a quiet fully-filled one. Of course, first-minute attention is caught by a loud-speaker but sustained attention is given to informative whispers and sigals.

  20. Atul Chitnis Says:

    15 years of FOSS promotion & I didn’t get on the same WEBSERVER as Linus. A bunch of tweets & I’m on the same page as him? Oye! :)

    Thanks for the mention, though - my daughter now thinks more of her daddy :) http://twitter.com/geetanjalic/status/10658600570

  21. hardtke Says:

    No Doug Cutting? Is that search box up in the corner powered by Lucene? And did you process this data using Hadoop?

  22. The Most Powerful Voices in Open Source (Mark Fidelman/MindTouch) | TechCombo Says:

    [...] Fidelman / MindTouch:The Most Powerful Voices in Open Source  —  The Open Source community has many influential and important people.  Yet [...]

  23. DaveK Says:

    I believe you have conflated “Most Powerful” with “Loudest”, and so your entire exercise is pretty much based on a false premise. Your metrics are worthless: basically, your MPV is roughly correlated to the number of followers, multiplied or divided by an ad-hoc low-integer fudge factor that you appear to have fabricated ex post facto on a case-by-case basis in order to produce results that matched your prejudged notions of what was sensible (aka “zomg how can we publish a list that says Linus isn’t influential that doesn’t make sense?”)

    When your initial results don’t give the answer you were expecting, you should reconsider your premises, because that’s how scientific research is done, rather than manipulate the results to arrive that the conclusion you wanted, because that’s how self-delusion is done.

    In this case, I’d say you should conclude that your inital hypothesis - that it is possible to infer how “influential” someone’s voice is in open source from a simple measure of the level of their web2.0rrhea - has pretty conclusively shown not to be supported by the evidence.

    (If you wish to disprove me, why don’t you try ANOVAing your results; I think you’ll find there’s two free variables in there, one of which will match the followers number and the other one of which will be your artificial fudge factor.)

  24. Jaydee Says:

    Interesting but…

    It is not clear to me what this survey is measuring.

    Is this about measuring who influences the development of open source or is it about evangelism?

    For example is this about Tim O’Reilly is widely followed, but his followers (if I can use that term) are in general less influential, he is, perhaps, in an evangelical role. On the other hand, Linus Torvalds is rather quieter but his followers include many of the Linux kernel maintainers, so he has tremendous influence over development.

    Another point is that not all listeners are equal. Having a few listeners who then actively persue your adgenda means you have a broader influence than somebody who has lots of passive liteners.

  25. Jaydee Says:

    Where is Richard Stallman?

    He doesn’t tweet so he doesn’t exist?

  26. Most Tweeted Articles by Distributed Systems Experts Says:

    [...] on a range of business technology topics: digital life, personal tech, … 3 Tweets The Most Powerful Voices in Open Source | MindTouch, Inc Blog The Open Source community has many influential and important people. Yet some individuals tend [...]

  27. Aaron Fulkerson Says:

    @Dr. R.C. YashRoy,

    True. This also accounted for retweet and reblogging, which was one of the biggest factors. Case in point: Linus.

  28. Hurfle Says:

    @Jaydee: I wondered the same thing. Perhaps it’s that rms doesn’t count himself in the open source movement; certainly most everyone worth hearing out listens when rms speaks.

  29. Mark Fidelman Says:

    Jaydee, the survey is more about broadcast capability and less about influence. MindTouch published the most influential in Open Source 2009 back in October http://www.mindtouch.com/blog/2009/10/27/most-influential-people-in-open-source/

    The individuals above carry a big megaphone. We in open source need them (and others) to help us spread the good word.

  30. Lynne Pope Says:

    Thanks for including me on the list. I feel very humble and honoured to be countered among such an august group. It’s also a good reminder that I need to pop out of my hole more when I am coding and not ignore social networking (and my blog) when I’m busy.

  31. John Says:

    Wow no richard stallman

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