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
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|
|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|
|16||Randal L. Schwartz (@merlyn)||6204||765||Medium||Medium||2,210|
|18||Rod Johnson (Spingrod)||2779||236||Low||High||1,894|
|19||Chris DiBona (@cdibona)||9068||663||Low||Medium||1,713|
|21||Stéphane ROBERT (@WebDevOnLinux)||5363||506||Low||Medium||1,628|
|22||Michael Coté (@cote)||3656||207||Low||Medium||988|
|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|
|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|
|36||Chris Harvey (@gnuchris)||4847||84||Low||Medium||326|
|37||Boris Mann (@bmann)||2428||211||Low||Medium||299|
|39||Pia Waugh (@piawaugh)||2207||104||Low||Low||246|
|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|
|49||John LeMasney (@lemasney)||2569||51||Low||Low||62|
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.
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