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 pdfreaders.org), 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 focussed 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 you adversaries can also read your blog/microblog/mailing list, so don't gloat about it.

See Also: FSF Campaigns and Action items

Tips

  • 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.
  • Be offline
    • Use the phone and even go out in the real world :)

Deliver the Message

ACLU Guide

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

Petitioning

See: Petitioning

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

Educational Institutions

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

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

Issues

Resources

References

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.