During the first part of my OPW, I spent much of my time in investigating the issues newcomers could encounter in approaching FOSS. Results of my work, are available here.
Starting form these results, I’ve spent some time in second part of my internship in studying how to apply what I’ve discovered in the GNOME environment.
I’ve tried to provide some answers to the questions I met: I share with you the result of my work.
Classification of newcomers.
I’ve try out that newcomers could be generally set in three type:
Type A: Enthusiastic
An Enthusiastic newcomer is a great passionate of GNOME, is a GNOME user and generally decides to use some of his time to give a hand.
He has not a well established idea about what he can do, but he wants to contribute.
Probably he’ll start to follow as much ML as he can, join IRC channel, proposing himself for every task.
What he really needs is a guide not only a Mentor, but someone who can address him to the right team, supply some indication about guidelines and more important, give him some task to do, that could help him to perfectly feel himself as a part of community.
Risks and potentialities: An Enthusiastic newcomer is proud to serve the project he chose, is very participative, but his outburst risks to burn away and fall very quickly, if he doesn’t find the right way to take part of community.
Type B: Passionate
A Passionate newcomer is a volunteer provided of some experience in GNOME world.
He could be a GNOME user, and very often he came from other FOSS projects.
He desires offer his capabilities and some amount of his time in developing some specific part of project.
What he really needs is to find well defined task to do and some people who could steer him in early days.
Risks and potentialities: A Passionate newcomer is usually a professional who has little time to spend, but can offer a significant know-how. Generally his contribute is not daily, but often very relevant and long-lasting.
Type C: Technician
A Technician newcomer approach a community bringing a great experience.
Usually he has a technical background and is a first class citizen in FOSS world.
Coder or not coder, he has a great familiarity with community tools.
What he really needs is to find well written documentation and guidelines, and some project in which he cans easily take part.
Risks and potentialities: whatever be the know-how brought by a Technichian newcomer, it will be valuable; the main risks involve only the capability of newcomer to integrate his knowledge to work-flow.
A very relevant issue we should take in consideration, is how a newcomer joins GNOME.
My personal opinion is through IRC Channels.
A direct contact is always the best, IMHO, but IRC Channels can’t be enough to provide detailed info.
This should be the role of gnome.org/ gnome.org/get-involved/ pages.
I’ve been really pleased to notice that design renewal of the site occurred for GNOME 3.8 released highlights Discover GNOME3, FoG Campaign and Get Involved project.
But Get involved page is maybe a little confusing.
So, what do you want to do?
This question perfectly fits needs of Type B and Type C newcomers, but type A?
Very often a Type A newcomer doesn’t know what he wants to do, maybe he barely is aware of what he is able to do.
“Hi, I’m a FOSS passionate, I’m not able to code, I’ve a good command with writing and I speak a good English. What can I do?”
I’m sure every translation team leader is smiling
I’ve a long searched a graphical way to immediately depict if skills and team requests match via comparison tables or similar tools, but I didn’t find a good solution.
GNOME has a great initiative, GNOME love, but how can I find some info about GNOME love in Get involved page? At the very bottom of this page.
I’ve browsed through many FOSS pages and their “Get involved” pages are very similar to each other.
I believe we should give more relevance to all the GNOME love initiative: GNOME love logo should be put in evidence on the upper part of “Get involved page” (I’ve tried to draw some mock up but it wasn’t really remarkable) and immediately has to catch newcomers focus.
“Are you just arrive? Take a look to our GNOME Love program for newcomers!”
GNOME Love pages, in my opinion, should be a very easy page, with a large use of Icons referring to each team, the name, mail and or nick of some referents for each project, a IRC channel (if present) and some quick info about most common used programs, technologies and tools.
Something like this http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/apps or like https://developer.apple.com/programs/ios/
GNOME Love pages should furthermore provide easy to use samples and tutorials like these (and don’t forget translation!) which could be integrated and represent an effective starting point.
I’m not pretty sure of which solution works as a charm to encourage newcomers outreach in GNOME Community; I can’t be sure that my proposals will be realized or perfectly match with GNOME lacks, I hope nevertheless they could be useful, in some ways.
I believe that every newcomer who becomes a volunteer and maybe a Member is a great achieve of whole community, GNOME Community, and FOSS Community.
Sometimes it’s hard, because newcomers are often very demanding and mentors are always too busy, but I believe it’s worth trying.
This is my last post as GNOME OPW intern, and if this internship has been so exciting, I have to say thanks to my mentors, Karen and Sriram, but to all the people I’ve met during last three months.
My OPW internship is over, but my work in GNOME is going ahead.