What Andrey Petrov talked about at GoSF Meetup is solid advice, not only in relation to making an open source project thrive but also in being applied to wider marketing and reputation of tools, products and personal branding.
Petrov is the author of several successful open source projects such as the Python HTTP Library Urllib3 and SSH Chat and he explains in this presentation some of the behaviours and methods which can be used to make sure people are involved and engaged in an open source project.
He also founded start up Socialgrapple, a Twitter analytics tools which was acquired by Google. This talk is also punctuated with tweets to help demonstrate behaviours..
Petrov explains the different types and perceptions of success in an OS project but that huge efforts need to go into a README, explaining what the project is about, what you can do with it, along with maybe a demonstration and recommends GitHub as it prompts the README and choice of license.
READMEs are really important. If you want to have a successful open source project then put most of your effort into the README. If someone lands on it and can’t get what it is and can’t get where it’s going then they’ll probably leave.
Like Petrov, many developers will have what he calls a longtail of projects on the go with very few followers. The key to getting people involved is asking for help and being very specific with asking for people to send pull requests. Also, people will always help people which is why it is important to be nice.. and bribing works too, “When I was doing SSH Chat, one of the things that worked really well is that I offered them free lessons on how to write go if they helped me.”
Opportunities to talk about your project will always get the message out there, so any relevant local Meetup groups where you can give a talk about it are a good promotional tool as well as writing interesting blog posts, sharing it with your friends and answering StackOverflow questions.
Most of the points here are the same sort of marketing plugin to a product or service that is repeated by business daily which leads to Petrov final advice.. repeat until it works.