EDIT: It should be noted that this question appears to have only historical relevance now that LinkedIn has discontinued the requirement to indicate how you know a contact when adding them a while ago.

While I have a day-to-day job, I consider my open source contributions to be a part of my professional life. I highlight them during job interviews, and accordingly, I would like to treat my contacts from the FLOSS world as a part of my professional network.

Accordingly, I would like to add these people in my LinkedIn profile. Usually, they have no objections at all to this idea when I ask for their permission, so I happily open LinkedIn, ready to add the respective person ... just to be presented with the usual trick question that gives me headaches for almost every of my contacts:

How do you know Tony Testcase?

I get plenty of options, none of which seem to fit:


In theory, yes (colleague within a given project), but I have to select one of the companies from my CV. My FLOSS contributions are not related to any of the companies I worked for, however. On the other hand, while LinkedIn allows defining contributions to projects, these projects do not appear in the dropdown list.


Well, no. Doesn't fit.

We've done business together

Essentially, this would be my favourite. Unfortunately, once again, LinkedIn insists that I choose one of my former or current employers.


This is the fallback I usually choose, even though it seems rather pushy to me. While I am on friendly terms with my FLOSS contacts, most of them are far from what I would consider a "friend". I am aware this is culturally dependent, but in my local culture (Germany), I would not even describe work colleagues who I occasionally see in my spare time as "friends". Consequently, I find it presumptuous to ask FLOSS contacts with who I have exchanged at most a few organizational e-mails to consider me a "friend", as I seem to be doing when I choose this option on LinkedIn.

With this said, this seems to be the only viable option for FLOSS contacts, as it does not require any additional information.


This would be fitting, for lack of any better options, but it seems to check whether I know "the e-mail address" of the person I am connecting to that is stored on LinkedIn. For FLOSS development, I have, on various occasions, only been in touch via Skype, or via an e-mail address supplied by SourceForge, etc.

I don't know Tony Testcase

This is too distanced by the same amount that the Friend option from above is too pushy.

I am aware this is not an important problem and it doesn't really matter, but I try to keep my data tidy, so I wonder whether there is a best practice for this situation.

  • 5
    Perhaps you should bring this up with Linkedin, asking them for a Collaborator tag, and projects on which you have worked (might be open or closed, doesn't really matter).
    – vonbrand
    Jan 28, 2016 at 15:32
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it has nothing to do with this site.
    – bmargulies
    Jan 29, 2016 at 18:46
  • 2
    @bmargulies What? That's a really vague reason.
    – Zizouz212
    Jan 29, 2016 at 19:57
  • 1
    @bmargulies: Please specify how an issue that is almost unique to open source development has nothing to do with a Q&A site about open source development. Jan 30, 2016 at 0:33

1 Answer 1


On LinkedIn, I tend to go with 'colleague' or 'friend'.

  • The case for colleague: a lot of people I know have a pseudo "developer at open-source" experience, and for some of my larger open-source contributions I actually have setup a LinkedIn "company". If you take that step, you can just use that to link all these accounts together. Its also important to recognise that open-source work is work, its just unpaid work. So saying you are both colleagues is accurate.

  • The case for friend: Selecting friend means not having to select a company, and unless I am mistaken your connection doesn't see how you've indicated you are connected.

Ultimately, I'd go for the former and have a dedicated work entry for open-source, the advantage of this is that you can also attach individual projects to this work experience as well.

  • Interesting suggestion. "your connection doesn't see how you've indicated you are connected" - I'm not sure about that, might try and find out. "a pseudo "developer at open-source" experience" - this sounds like a viable suggestion; I didn't think of it because I didn't consider the possibility LinkedIn accepts several overlapping "occupations" (and even more so Xing, which I think overall works similarly, but displays one's experience in a sequential diagram). Jan 29, 2016 at 12:41
  • 1
    I did exactly this. I set up a (LinkedIn) "company" and connected to my colleagues that way, because we are colleagues. We should probably start hammering LinkedIn with requests for improvement on this.
    – RubberDuck
    Jan 31, 2016 at 16:11
  • Sorry, I must somehow have forgotten about this question ... I'll accept your (very reasonable!) answer to mark this question as "concluded" and let you have the rep, even though the question has become irrelevant in the meantime (but might become relevant again in the future?). Feb 5, 2021 at 14:22

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