Get Involved

Once i have read comics, many comics. Especially those of some superheroes. What i can remember quite well is one comic about superman. It was about a problem with our parallel world. Suddenly there were 2 earths. And Superman’s problem was now to put those 2 worlds together again. To keep it short, he was actually able to handle it. Why do i want to tell this?
What we actually have are 2 different worlds.

The first one is that of a user willing to contribute but not knowing how and where. Maybe it also involves being a bit shy, maybe just not finding the right information or the right place.

The second world is the developers world. They work hard on their product and have a hard time to do it all, always waiting for a new volunteer.

Now, how could these two worlds be approached? Afterall, we want our small family called KDE grow, right? 😉
That’s where “Get Involved” comes into the game.

It is an open call to users who have a special love for a certain project of KDE and would like to contribute.
All of those projects need someone looking after bugs, some promo work or maybe just talking about it. Something everyone could fullfill.
This user will be mentored to get in contact with the projects developers and keeping up with the information needed.
He/She will keep up with new features and how to work with them and probably talk about them in the various communication channels.

This is basically not new, KDE is, like any other open source project, open to every new contributor. What is new though, is to give them a real guidance on the way to it. It is especially important to give them a real list of small tasks that need to be done and point them to it.

Now, there are the klassrooms, which are seeing daylight again. But that is not enough. I see the need to have a coordinated effort to invite new contributors, be it just plain users willing to help out their favourite application or project.

Mentoring can be done on various ways. We could open a dedicated irc channel, but of course also the forums can help with that. A place where mentors and volunteers can exchange questions and ideas. It would be like the bridge between the above two worlds.

So, for any project out there, if you see a need for that, if you want some more support, give me some feedback.

What sort of help does a project need from a user?
– bug triaging (it is much easier when concentrating on just one app)
– writing documentation
– spreading news about new functions or workflows
– testing updates
– what else? (tell it to me)

9 thoughts on “Get Involved”

  1. >What I can think about which could help is a simple IRC channel "kde-contribute" or so, where a user can ask questions related to contributing.

    Take me as example. Yesterday I thought "I'd like to get this datafile into ktouch. I already have SVN access, but whom do I need to ask first?"

    I shied away, because I didn't have the time to go digging for a way to get entrance (and what I wanted to do would likely have taken only a few minutes).

    So, back to answering your question: I think what many projects also need are users who use new functions, do screenshots and write a few paragraphs about them. It's roughly in the "spreading news" part.

    What about personal feedback? -> "I love the new function! It helps me doing XYZ in half the time. Many thanks!" -> How can we tell the developers that they are great? (I sometimes abuse the bug system for that by writing my thanks below a bug I just found).

  2. >@Arne: [quote]What I can think about which could help is a simple IRC channel "kde-contribute" or so, where a user can ask questions related to contributing. [/quote]

    Busy IRC channels can seem scarey to someone new to the channels, so while I agree with you, I think we also will need some static tutorials, either on the forum or on userbase or both, on the basics of using IRC. We don't want to lose potential valuable users because the medium is too strange 🙂

  3. >bug triaging would be easier if bugzilla were slightly more usable. right now what i miss the most is a software / project list in https://bugs.kde.org/
    just as well, testing updates would be easier with packaging since regular users find it somewhat harder to compile and install otherwise. is there any page in kde.org that makes it easy to find testing packages repositories, sorted by distro?
    i've been willing to test koffice, but don't know where to find the testing/devlopment packages for arch (if there is such a repository).

  4. >In this note, I want to stay with the "Documentation & Support"-stuff. Also, I want to extend the view to D&S a little bit.

    Imagine Joe R. User. He's a very capable medical man, but of short temper and with absolutly no clue about computers. Even his profund knowledge of "systems" (as in "systems science") seems to evaporate as soon as he boot his computer.

    Now imagine, that this guy is looking for support.

    Everyone who has worked in a professional support role knows that kind of supportee. Everything, you try — from "Mom-test approved" baby language to carefully written wordings — failed. Why?

    Because this guy didn't care about — let's say — browsers, proxy servers, network configuration and the whole shebang of ISO's layer model or IETF's standard track. He want to do some online banking. Or buy some nice trinket for someone, he cares. Or book a holiday. His world is not comprised of applications (or applets, widgets, whatever). He just want To Get Things Done.

    And that is the point, where most of the actual documentation (and therefore support) is too short-sighted. Of course, we (as in KDE) need documentation about and support of this or that single application. But we (as in "the tech-savvy non-programmers") need to discern and comprehend the ways of Joe R. User and his ilk.

    To chop that beasty in more easily digestible bites, let's start with an answer (i.e. documentation) to a simple question: What is there?

    What applications exists? What's the purpose of said application? What's the name of that application? What's the important difference, if any, between "application", "applet", "widget", "plasmoids"?

    I know, that the truth is out there. In UserBase, TechBase, a plethora of fora, mailing lists, chats … And as the last-ditch of data mining, there's the Omniscient Oracle of Google. But I'm a senior system and network administrator, and Joe isn't. All, he want _now_ is that 600-words "executive summary", which show him The One Way do get that picture of the nice hotel to that person, he has bought the trinket.

    And since in a good story, the boy gets the girl, we should help him.

  5. >Ingo, I'm really interested in an initiative like this. I'm actually giving a talk about similar things (transitioning users to contributors even if you can't code) at Camp KDE this weekend. Let's join forces! Let em know how I can help 🙂

  6. >@neomantra:

    Nice to hear! Of course, the basic intention of this post was to join forces first, before anything gets out. We'd need a bit backup from the devs to get this really going.

  7. >@barra/.ponto:

    I agree about bugs.kde.org. Its usability is not as good as it could be.

    The maintainers of bugs.kde.org have been hard at work lately to improve this a bit, but it's hard to do, as Bugzilla itself comes with many usability (and performance) issues.

    Switching to a better system would be nice, but it's difficult to find a Free Software bug tracker that can handle an archive of reports as big as ours…

    Regards, Mark.

  8. >Hey there,im Rohan Garg aka shadeslayer on the IRC and ive written the docs for rekonq (www.gitorious.org/rekonq )and i can easily say that giving back to the community requires very less effort,about half an hour a day or 3 hours in one week is just about enough for maintaining the documnetation of a project,adding wiki pages to techbase,reporting bugs etc.
    Infact promoting the browser on IRC comes naturally when people ask for KDE alternatives to firefox and konqueror.Thus if everybody contributes even a small patch or a friendly suggestion ot goes a long way in ensuring the final product is polished.
    rekonq might be having a brainstorming session soon after the 0.4 release ( work on it is underway currently and everything is hush hush 😀 ),thus we want the whole community to have a part in the browser and not just the devs,theres a job for everyone in KDE! 😀

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