Activism Guide

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Individuals and LibrePlanet Teams are all working to further the ideals of software freedom and related issues concerning digital rights and free culture, and effective activism is essential for this cause!

Please take full advantage of this How-to Guide for software freedom, digital rights, and free culture activism!

This is a practical guide on how to advocate for free software and free/open standards. It doesn't focus on the what (e.g. ask a webmaster to link to, but rather on the how.

  • Strength in numbers: a group of people making the same case is not as easily ignored as just one person speaking.
  • Know what you're talking about: you don't want to come across as a drone who just repeats whatever a lobbying organization feeds him. So read, analyze and prepare (alternative) solutions.
  • Know who you need to talk to: chatting with a desk clerk is good to influence general opinion, but if you want to have a law changed then you'd better speak with a member of parliament.
  • Choose the right medium: e-mails might get lost in the flood. A written and signed paper letter will get more attention. You might even want to consider certified mail. Or write to newspapers and magazines to get your message published.
  • Practice a good writing style: write clearly and to the point. Nobody pays attention to rambling or ranting.
  • Be respectful: don't insult the person you want to influence or her friends/sponsors. Stay focused on the issue instead.
  • Speak positively: say what should be done instead of what should not happen. Focus on the solution rather than the problem.
  • First impressions matter: if you're going to meet someone, pay some attention to how you look. That doesn't mean you should wear a suit if you're not a suit kind of person. It's about looking confident, not about looking expensive.
  • Keep at it: you might not see results immediately or often. But if only 1 out of 10 issues gets resolved into free software's advantage, that's still better than none at all. The emails or letters that didn't have the full effect you were hoping for could still have nudged some people in the right direction so that they might see things more your way next time.
  • Share your successes: tell like-minded people about it, so that they will be encouraged to join you in your efforts. However, be aware that the people you want to convince and your adversaries can also read your blog/microblog/mailing list, so don't gloat about it.

See Also: FSF Campaigns and Action items


  • Be assertive
    • Take initiative. If you come up with a good idea, you still need to nurture it until it takes off.
  • Be creative
    • Sometimes you need to be unconventional. Innovative solutions require thinking out of the box.
  • Be persistent
    • Don't give up. Expect unexpected obstacles, and work to overcome them.
  • Be polite
    • Being persistent should not ever require rudeness. Respect will earn you a good reputation.
  • Be inquisitive
    • Do your research and find the resources you need to be heard and organize. Reach out to the FSF or related communities if you need help.
  • Be offline
    • Go out in the world and see what is going on, meet other free software advocates and talk to people. :)
  • Communicate
    • Follow up e-mails with a phone call, arrange meetings via phone to discuss ideas, etc.
  • Listen
    • Actively Listen to others: Everyone has different uses for a computer, not everyone can just switch to free software. The IRS tax software issue is, for many a barrier, so we can use that to make the argument for change.
  • Keep updated
    • From time to time, big news stories can provide an opportunity for activism and promotion of free software. :)
  • Don't assume
    • Don't assume people have heard of something you use regularly. On a similar note, terminology may be misunderstood by others, or they have different interpretations.

Ask Powerful Questions

Asking Powerful Questions Get the topic of freedom respecting software to come up in any conversation and discuss with people how freedom respecting software can help people resolve their issues with technology and make their technology experiences better. These questions can be used/modified/improved and used in any situation from online/text/forum/chat/video/in person etc

Deliver the Message

ACLU Guide Free software elevator pitches

Convert Friends

Converting friends might not reach out to the most people, but it certainly has a high rate of success. Doing this allows you to get really personal with the person who is switching instead of letting people know about the existence of free software and leaving it up to them to acquire and figure it out on their own.

Hit the Streets

This may not immediately convert as many people to switch, but it will raise awareness. Awareness is essential.

See: Hit the streets


See: Petitioning

Local outreach

If you want to extend your personal network and connect with other free software activists, you can organize a free software group in your state, region or country. Get started by listing your free software activism group on the LibrePlanet wiki. Did you know you can even invite the FSF staff to have a presence at events you organize? Write to us at and let us know how we can support your local group and/or events. We can send you materials, promote your group or event, and even send you a speaker or program ideas if you wish.

Personal outreach

Personal communication like letters and phone calls are very effective for influencing anyone from club leaders to politicians.

See: Personal outreach

Lobbying Government

See: Lobbying government

Outreach at Educational Institutions

Are you a student and would like to present a free software program you love to your fellow students or a free software activist eager to volunteer to do classroom visits at schools and universities in your area and explain the concept of computer user freedom? Feel free to use the teaching materials on the LibrePlanet wiki. As they are licensed under the [ Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 International license] you are free to adapt them to your needs and build upon these materials as you see fit. And make sure to list your name and expertise on the list of teaching volunteers so that teachers looking for volunteers to teach their students about free software can get in touch with you.

Talking to local schools about free software and formats can make a huge impact and are excellent targets since they have a lot to benefit from these.

See: Education, GNU Education resource

Outreach at work

Suggest to your employer that they support the FSF as a [ corporate patron], with the aid of a flyer on statistics and/or one on the benefits and impact of an FSF patronage.

Outreach at Conferences

Run an FSF booth on behalf of the FSF. Email if you're interested.

Organizations & Clubs

Talking to groups like parent clubs, parent/teacher/student organizations, librarian unions, activists, etc is also very effective. They can be very helpful allies to us. Just get in contact and let them know what we have to offer.

See: Libraries

Gain Industry Support

Talking to businesses and companies to support GNU/Linux.

See: Gain industry support

Press & Media

Getting media attention can bring us into the public view.

See: Media coverage

Donating or Fundraising

See Fundraising




Please use these resources to help create a customized how to lobby government guide specifically for GNU/Linux, Free Software, and Open Document Formats. (We do not necessarily agree with any of the organizations, these links are just resources to use on how to lobby government)

This page was a featured resource in June 2020.