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Keeping libre graphics projects vibrant and productive

Thu, May 12, 2011

Blog

Notes from the 2011 Libre Graphics Meeting in Montreal…

How to keep and make productive libre graphics projects?

We need many types of people:

  • programmers
  • designers
  • UX experts
  • project managers
  • journalists
  • technical writers
  • event organizers
  • etc.

Need to better communicate that these skills are needed and show folks how they can get involved. Instead, main sites (Gimp, Scribus, InkScape) focus on downloading and documentation, and a few links. On Gimp they do a bit better with the get involved.
Also after folks download there is an opportunity to connect with them that we don’t use.

Enthusiasm is important! It is a resource.

Practical examples…

  • Fedora set a goal: One new contributor every three monthsTactic: Bi-Weekly Bounty with a prize, competing for inclusion (access to subversion)“Fedora Design Bounty Ninja #3”
  • Another tactic: “Build it” eventPremise: There are folks who want to get involved but don’t know how. Ran it for Vidalia and Gimp, advertised through Twitter and blogs. Make contributing more fun.
  • Talk: “Debian for shy people” = Making contributing suck less. Used a mentors list. People upload patches but 10% of emails are unanswered. If mentors put in more time reviewing packages that would help. So set goal to reply to all emails within four days. Even if just to say sorry no-one has been able to review your package. Respect contributors. So then more folks starting stepping up and percentage of unanswered emails went down.
  • PiTiVi: There are a lot of bugs… huge list. New contributors may have difficulty prioritizing. So wrote a wiki page highlighting low-hanging fruit. Indicate level of difficulty. Needs to be managed by hand. Makes it easier to get new contributors involved.
  • Gimp… Use this page to direct new folks who are interested in contributing: gegl.org/contribute.html

Discussion snippets…

  • Nurture your own enthusiasm for outreach. Don’t put a lot into caring when others are not.
  • Never talk about how much you hate doing _______________. Say nothing rather than mean things. Some folks on your list may actually like doing these things.
  • Sometimes better to reach out to smaller groups, one to ten people.
  • Find a not-intimidating way to show people what it is like to be a contributor.
  • One idea may be to copy-paste relevant parts of a wiki or FAQ page instead of just sending folks to this page. More personal touch. Then can send to the whole page.
  • Bart Kelsey: Let folks make friends, hang out, get involved. If you are too task-oriented at first you may scare folks away. Let them care about the project first. (opengameart.org)
  • This is what “Built it” events are supposed to do. To show what life is like as a contributor.
  • Run events with concrete time periods. Make them fun and not intimidating.
  • You could create a style book on how to respond to folks. Example: Use the person’s name because right away recognize as an individual. Wiki has helped us a lot. Then you can through the volume at them. Good for complex questions. Ask after if it was useful. Phrase responses in a way that are welcoming. Remember to be people-friendly.
  • Ask what works and what doesn’t in documentation. That is really important.
  • IRC channel or mailing list. When folks come in and ask a question the first answer is ‘read the FAQ’ — can be okay… but think about why you’re answering that way.  Be friendly. If it is two sentences then just answer directly.
  • Issue for FAQ is that understanding of English varies a lot. We ask folks if they’ve understood.
  • Being welcoming and inclusive. Issue with getting women involved. Sometimes unintentional. Cultural. Folks don’t realize how they come across. Resource for reaching out to women: adainitiative.org.
  • See community anti-patterns video for fail stories
  • Also found similar issues with shy men | south asians | insert other group here…
  • Debian does specific outreach. Lots of diversity sources in free and open software. Bigger issue is exclusion in general.
  • Scribus: Women users. But on the programming side only one woman.
  • Hard to get non-hackers up to speed on your project quickly.
  • Suggested strategy: When you are on an IRC channel the person assumes you don’t care about them. So what can you do to show them that you care about them? We have to do things and take actions that show folks that we care.

OpenHatch created a set of cool training missions to teach folks how to contribute to opensource software projects. Looks awesome — can’t wait to try it out!

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