Linus Torvalds named most influential open source blogger

Tim O'Reilly leads overall ranking in open source social media

O'Reilly media founder Tim O'Reilly is "the most powerful voice" in open source, but Linus Torvalds is the most influential blogger.

O'Reilly media founder Tim O'Reilly is "the most powerful voice" in open source, followed by Linux chief architect Linus Torvalds, Google executive Chris Messina, ex-Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, and Gnome and Mono founder Miguel de Icaza, according to a new ranking of influential open source personalities.

Torvalds was named the most influential blogger in open source, however, despite ranking behind O'Reilly in the overall metric, which includes various Twitter analysis tools and Google Trends.

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Torvalds isn't the most active blogger, with his most recent post coming on Feb. 24, and many of his posts are about personal activities. But when he does speak about Linux or open source his words carry a lot of weight.

O'Reilly tweets many times a day and has more than 1.4 million followers.

Open source collaboration vendor MindTouch is releasing the ranking Wednesday in conjunction with the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco.  The vendor came up with a top 50 list after grading about 200 open source commentators on how much buzz is created by their blog posts, tweets and other messages.

The list is clearly not a definitive ranking of which people influence the open source community the most. Only executives devoted to Twitter and blogging are likely to make the cut. But at the very least, Mindtouch executives say the 50 people on the list are ones the open source community should be paying attention to.

"We first set out to determine reach by examining the number of followers and buzz an individual has on sites like Twitter and Google," MindTouch vice president of sales and marketing Mark Fidelman writes in a blog post that will be published Wednesday. "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?”

MindTouch CEO Aaron Fulkerson was ranked 46th. Fulkerson said the list contains several names from overseas that he didn't recognize, and that he was surprised to see de Icaza ranked No. 5. "I know he's an influential person and vocal and active but I was surprised to see him at No. 5. He's a good friend of mine so I'm happy to see that and he adds a lot of value to the conversation."

Fulkerson called it "a very credible list," but MindTouch executives acknowledged some limitations.

"Tim O'Reilly emerged uncontested, as the most powerful voice in open source by a large margin," Fidelman writes. But "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?"

O'Reilly does have more influence on Twitter, with 1.4 million followers, whereas Torvalds has fewer than 6,000. But Torvalds' blog posts create far more buzz than posts by O'Reilly and others on the list, MindTouch says.

Fidelman said he was surprised about some names that didn't make the top 50, such as Zack Urlocher, Jim Zemlin, Matt Aslett, Paula Hunter, Steve Purkiss and Savio Rodriguez.

The full top 10 consisted of O'Reilly, Torvalds, Messina, Schwartz, de Icaza, ImageX Media owner Glenn Hilton, technology writer Glyn Moody, Canonical COO Matt Asay, Drupal creator Dries Buytaert, and Python creator Guido van Rossum.

Simon Phipps, the recently departed open source chief at Sun, ranked 12th.

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