How to better reach the community?

Discussion in 'Developers' Forum' started by cfoe, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. cfoe

    cfoe ISPConfig Developer ISPConfig Developer

    Hi fellow users and devs,

    to not bore you with long text I will cut it short.

    Big commercial and proprietary control panels/management suites are by nature backed by a (large) company investing in marketing to reach their potential customers and sell the product.
    cPanel/WHM and Parallels are big players making big bucks with the licenses for products not even superior to ISPConfig 3.

    Open-Source does not need to hide from proprietary software. It needs to compete with it.

    Therefore I wish for ISPConfig to be more approachable.
    The community is very important for an open-source project and I think a little marketing might help expanding the reach and maybe help increase contributions.

    I have a little free time coming my way and I would love to invest it in ISPConfig.

    My ideas:
    1. develop a "simple" corporate design to streamline homepage, twitter, facebook, documentations and the rest; new logo -> brand recognition
    2. overhaul of the public website ( are there more tlds?)
    3. overhaul of the publicly available development resources
    4. add public mailing lists (dev="chat" for dev related topics, announce=announcement of new versions)
    5. add FAQ DB like
    6. engage users on twitter and facebook (both sites might need a design change)
    7. LATER: engage big scene sites (open-source, web, dev, webmaster-sites) to take a look at
    please give me some input or shoot me down ;)

    What are your plans for the future? Interested in me helping out?
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2012
  2. till

    till Super Moderator Staff Member ISPConfig Developer

    Hello Christian,

    thank you for your thougts to improve ISPConfig. Many of them are already underway as we are currently working on new websites and ISPConfig 3.0.5 which is one of the biggest releases of ISPConfig. Here a few answers to your questions and remarks:

    1-3) Thats already in the works and will get published soon.
    4) We have a email announcement list, you can subscribe on Beside that, all announcements are available via Twitter, Facebook and RSS feed. Regardong development, we have the dev forum here. Personally I'am not a fan of mailing lists.
    5) Weare already present at twitter and Facebook. I agree thatw e should do more on these channels and the redesign is already underway.
    6) I totally agree that we should do more community building :)

    I guess you underestimate the size of the ispconfig project a bit, ISPConfig has about 30 - 40 thousand downloads each month and thats since quite some time, so I guess that we range already in the upper region of Hosting Control panels :)

    I'am glad for everyone who likes to help us to improve the ISPConfig project :)
  3. cfoe

    cfoe ISPConfig Developer ISPConfig Developer

    I knew ISPConfig is pretty successful but you find it only if you dig deep for control panels. It is just not a brand you see referenced on hosting sites. That is what I would like to see changed.

    If you can use my help in any regard do not hesitate to ask.

    One tip: try not to create double content by using both and for the English version of the site.
  4. falko

    falko Super Moderator ISPConfig Developer

    Do you have any ideas how to change this? Are there easy ways to change this (it shouldn't consume too much time because working on ISPConfig and HowtoForge already takes sooo much time...)?

    We are open for ideas. :)
  5. cfoe

    cfoe ISPConfig Developer ISPConfig Developer

    to establish the brand "ISPConfig" you need to be (1.) found by the right keywords by the Google and Bing Search, (2.) reviews and articles on big sites people are turning for help on finding open-source software and/or control panels + (3.) word of mouth.

    • optimized website (on the way) (technically)
      • no duplicate content
      • well maintained content incl always up-to-date feature list
      • right usage of <h*> and <ul>-elements -> ups the siterank
    • optimized website (on the way) (visually)
      • rival the professional and understated design of commercial product sites
      • by presentation ISPConfig is a wolf in sheep's clothing - the wolf needs to show some teeth :D
      • show off!!
    • directly engage
      • blogs and web news sites (like t3n, smashing magazine, etc) to review and write about the software
      • user (hoster, admins) to proudly announce the great feature "ISPConfig control panel" with a backlink to (like you do in
    • be more open to the public
      • list developers on the website with "positions"/responsibilities -> might stimulate contributors
      • provide statistics of dl/month, man-hours invested in development or problems/errors resolved
      • show off the progress in development (on GitHub you see all kind of stats showing the progress and the activity generated by contributors; I know Git is not your choice, no offense:
      • feature comparison with "all" other control panels (a big plus for ISPConfig)
      • open reference-list for users to add their sites to
      • tell people how to contribute on the website
        • open "positions" (php-dev, designer, forum admin, social media team (twitter and facebook could profit from a few dedicated reps)
        • ask for tweets about ISPC
        • let them contribute e.g. by using the Amazon-Partnerprogramm -> earnings should be published and used e.g. for external services like Hootsuite or the acquisition of graphic resources if needed

    Again a lot from me. Sorry :)
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
  6. Croydon

    Croydon ISPConfig Developer ISPConfig Developer


    I think one more way to get ISPConfig more popular is to get server providers (like hetzner, myLoc, 1&1 etc.) to provide ISPConfig as a panel in their default server images like they offer plesk, confixx (and often cpanel/WHM).
    I tried to introduce ISPC to a server provider few days ago but the reply was "this panel is not requested by our customers, so providing it as default image is too much work for us". They said they might do it later, as confixx will be discontinued at the end of this year.

    I'll try to bother the server provider again from time to time ;) maybe it helps.

    What I think would help to reduce inhibition threshold would be a completely unattended setup.
    Currently there are some questions you have to answer even during basic install. Maybe the setup script could be extended for unattended call with mandatory parameters on shell - using all the default values without having to press enter, like:
    php install.php --unattended --dbhost="localhost" --dbuser="root" --dbpass="rootpass"

    Update: I just got a reply from a provider basically saying: "it is on our agenda, but do not expect it short-term"
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012
  7. cfoe

    cfoe ISPConfig Developer ISPConfig Developer

    To reply to the off-topic of unattended install:

    maybe it is possible to provide a "xml-kind" of file with all needed parameters for installation. You can edit the parameters (with comments) and let the install run like a windows unattended installation
  8. till

    till Super Moderator Staff Member ISPConfig Developer

    I've planned to add a ini style file for presets of the installer in one of the nextreleases to allow unattended updates and installs.
  9. falko

    falko Super Moderator ISPConfig Developer

    Interesting suggestions! :)

    The question is: how do we get them to write about ISPConfig? Do we have to offer anything in return? How do we contact them - we need some kind of text that draws their interest, but as I'm a technical guy and no marketing genius I'm really having a hard time writing PR texts... :(

    We could need help with Twitter/Facebook as well as we are no big social networkers either...

    What exactly do you mean with the Amazon-Partnerprogramm?
  10. cfoe

    cfoe ISPConfig Developer ISPConfig Developer

    About PR:
    Thanks to the nature of bloggers and authors in the IT scene and the continuing success of the concept of open-source getting in contact with "big" names is not as hard as it was in the past.

    Get in contact in an informal way via email and outline the success of the past and the roadmap and concepts for the future. I for myself hate the way press statements are sounding, too.

    Twitter and Facebook is manageable with a few volunteers and a good tool like HootSuite (a few bucks are needed for this but it is worth it and is no longterm commitment). Twitter for example is a good way to solve little problems and get a conversation started.

    open an account on as a Partner and provide the link on the site for contributors.
    Tell people: We need your support but we dont want you to donate. Just give us the commission from Amazon and contribute to the cause for free
  11. Croydon

    Croydon ISPConfig Developer ISPConfig Developer

    Regarding blogs, I am a guest author at
    It is mainly a Mozilla-related blog but my part is to publish technical blog articles like tipps for linux, php and so on.
    The blog is quite good at google searches and google recognizes new articles in less than one minute after publishing.
    I asked the owner and he allowed me to post a blog article about ISPConfig if we produce a (german of course) text, that is nice to read and not PR-style.
    Maybe we can collect some headwords for an article and some comparison to other admin panels like plesk, cpanel, .... here in this topic.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2012
  12. cfoe

    cfoe ISPConfig Developer ISPConfig Developer

    I have opened a Mindmap on
    Anyone who wants to participate needs to send me an email (can be found here ) so I can add them to the mindmap.

    Keep the mindmap in English please.
  13. falko

    falko Super Moderator ISPConfig Developer

    Didn't know Hootsuite, but I've just created an account. :)

    I've just sent you an email. :)

    Do you have an idea for the topic already? Is it about a comparison with other control panels?
  14. Croydon

    Croydon ISPConfig Developer ISPConfig Developer

    Not yet, but I think it could be interesting to make something like "Hosting and Server management made easy".
    In the text we could give some statements about the most outstanding features of ISPC and maybe some comparison to other panels.
    To make it look less like a pr text I think we should state at least one disadvantage ;) although it might be hard to find one.

    The question is, what are people searching for at google when they search for a hosting and/or server management panel... ?
  15. cfoe

    cfoe ISPConfig Developer ISPConfig Developer

    not directly related to the content I would postpone the article until the launch of 3.0.5.
    Anyone with me on this?
  16. falko

    falko Super Moderator ISPConfig Developer

    I think this is a good idea, too, because 3.0.5 will have many new features (like an application installer, support for multiple PHP versions, PHP-FPM support for Apache, etc.).

    That sounds like a good idea. :) I can help with the ISPConfig features, but I don't have much experience with other control panels.

    I will take a look at our statistics.
  17. Croydon

    Croydon ISPConfig Developer ISPConfig Developer

    I think it will take some time until we have a complete blog article with all the things we (and at first falko and till) are happy with.
    So I am fine with waiting 'till 3.0.5.
    I will try to get a first version of the plesk import ready until then, maybe this can help, too.
  18. cfoe

    cfoe ISPConfig Developer ISPConfig Developer

    How about a clandestine project of setting up a mediawiki to launch to the public with the 3.0.5 release? :cool:

    There are many threads here in the forums which should be archived in wiki form.

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