Project visibility: Name, Summary and Description

A few days ago, we talked about some of the things you can do to increase the visibility of your SourceForge project. Over the next few posts, we’re going to give you some specifics on how to make that happen.

In this first post, we’re going to discuss describing your project well, in order to help people find it among the thousands of projects on SourceForge.

In the Project Admin menu on your project, select Settings. You’ll find three pieces of information there that you should fill in: the project name, summary, and description.

Name

Your project name is one of your greatest assets. When you’re starting a new project, selecting the name is often the hardest part. You know what you want to create, but what to call it? There’s a few things you’ll want to consider:

Uniqueness

You don’t want to call your project the same thing as another project, particularly one that does the same thing. Less obviously, you probably want to avoid naming your project the same as a commercial product that might result in your getting a “cease and desist” letter. I’ve had that happen more than once, due to insufficient research.

Difficulty

You want to avoid choosing a name that nobody can spell or pronounce. It may seem cute at first, but, trust me, you’ll regret it. And it may even effect your project’s adoption if people can’t remember what the project is called. Consider the case of the Apache project Quetzalcoatl, a project that barely made it out of infancy before being retired. During its brief life, nobody could ever remember how to spell it, and even the abbreviated name that was usually used – Quetz – was often misspelled.

Alternate meanings

Finally, when choosing a name, remember that not everyone speaks your language, and there’s a chance that your project name means something unexpected in some other language. This isn’t something you can always avoid, but it’s worth attempting to translate your chosen name into various other languages. Remember the old joke (alas, Snopes says it’s not true) about the fate of the Chevy Nova when it was marketed in Spanish-speaking countries.

Summary Statement

The summary statement should be a short (70 characters or less), succinct statement of what your project is. Leave the details to the description. If you can’t say what your project is in 70 characters, perhaps you need to consider narrowing your focus.

Description

This is where you need to describe, in as much detail as you can in 1000 characters, what your project is. You’ll want to throw around as many keywords as possible, so that users looking for projects in your space will find you, while at the same time writing coherent and grammatical sentences. Use the technical terms that your target developer audience is likely to use, but also bear in mind that not all of your potential users know (or care) as much about the underlying technology as you do.

If you want any assistance in this, please don’t hesitate to ask us. We’re here to help with exactly this kind of thing.

Remember, statistics show that visitor spend maybe a minute looking at your summary page. If they can’t figure out what your project is about in about a minute, you’ve missed your opportunity to gain a user or a developer.

Related Topics

You have a few more places where you can elaborate on your project’s purpose, and we’ll be talking some more about these in the coming days. The trove categorization gives you the opportunity to put your project in various categories where people might be browsing, and the feature list gives you a chance to enumerate all the things your product does that you think people might care about, or which they might use to compare it to your competition.

SourceForge Community Team
communityteam@sourceforge.net

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