Emacs GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source

5 ways to promote and Open Microblogging over Twitter

On the Free Software Foundation Latinamerica mailing list, there’s been a discussion about supporting and open microblogging and encourage quitting using twitter by setting the example.

The topic about closed network services and its risks is a very important issue that I will cover on a later post with detail or you can read more about it on the website. The following is an english translation of what I posted on the mailing list and I got a request to post it here on my blog. You can read the original email if you read Spanish.

About the discussions generated around the question of weather to use or not Twitter to support and Open Microblogging, I’ll explain some of the ways I’ve been promoting the use of for about a year.

  1. Word of mouth: As part of the free and open source community in Mexico, I get invited to give talks on several events. On my presentations and the material handed out, I always put on the first place and as a secondary link I put my twitter url, and sometimes I omit the second one. And when I talk about this little piece of information I always tell them the clear message: “use instead of Twitter” and I go ahead and talk about’s benefits and advantages. Being on a mass forum I think the message does get across to more than one.
  2. Start with your close ones: When meeting with my friends, collegues or other FLOSS enthusiast (and my girlfriend) I always mention and sometimes “insist” that they use for microblogging, and most of them have done so.
  3. Be positive and pragmaticWhen I mention (laconica) not only do I mention it because its free software, because many don’t care about the freedom issues. I mention the technical advantages it offers like:
    • The XMPP (Jabber) client that Twitter took down and has always offered
    • At the times where Twitter was famous for its downtimes, has been (and still is) very stable
    • Very recently Twitter integrated search, when has had it for a long time
    • has integrated groups and tags, where Twitter has some partial support for tags and no groups yet
    • The groups feature is the one very appealing. Since many use microblogging to ask open questions and expect to recieve answers, if you don’t have a large list of followers from that specific topic you’re asking about, its very improbable that your question gets answered or even heard (read actually). On this gets solved with groups: you send a message to a group or mark it with a tag and all of the people interested in that topic will get the message and most of the time you’ll get answers in seconds. This has worked for me a lot!
    • The fact that you can install your own instance on your server and follow anyone on any other instance of laconica. This way you are not tied up to a single provider and you have total control over your data.
  4. Set examples: I implemented a instance at my previous job for internal communication. Everyone got to see the advantages and features of and some even created accounts on Others just followed people on from the company’s account. This happened because they wanted better communication on the projects progress and were considering using Twitter. I mentioned that it was not a good idea to put internal communication on a third party server and that we could have “our own internal twitter” with free software and it got authorized.
  5. Contribute Lastly, instead of asking, wishing or whining about ways to post or update my microblogging acount, I decided to create the Emacs identica-mode, a way to view timelines and update from Emacs, my favorite application. Identica-mode has had good response from users and it now has more features than the original twittering-mode from which I forked the code. By the way, if you know elisp I could use your help to implement some features like: expand shortened urls to see where they lead (for security), see image links (twitpic, yfrogg, flickr) inline in the timeline list and many more
  6. I hope this could help as examples to promote open microblogging without having “religious” debates with people who do not, and will not, care about the freedom implications of proprietary (closed) network services. This arguments have worked for me to “convert” many to

    For the ones interested in free/libre network services you can read more about the topic at

By Gabriel Saldaña

Gabriel Saldaña is a web developer, photographer and free software advocate. Connect with him on and Twitter

8 replies on “5 ways to promote and Open Microblogging over Twitter”

Microblogging is so addictive. I like to Twitter everyday with my friends and talk about just anything. I also have some blogs but i update frequently my Twitter more than my WordPress blog.

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Everyone got to see the advantages and features of and some even created accounts on Others just followed people on from the company’s account. This happened because they wanted better communication on the projects progress and were considering using Twitter.

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