Why Can’t We Just Make It Easy For New Contributors?

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Proposal
Short Form
Beginner

Excerpt

During this talk I'll discuss many approaches for making it easier for new contributors to join your project. Any project which makes it easier to bring new contributors on board will find its quality and reputation improving by leaps and bounds. You'll find it’s an effort very much worth making.

Description

As an Open Source advocate I’m frequently asked to which projects I contribute. My answer is typically, “None right now.” Why is that? There are a few reasons but they mostly boil down to this:

It’s an opaque process.

From my point of view, there is absolutely no excuse for this. Wikis, CMSs and cheap hosting all make it abundantly simple to offer plentiful guidance to new contributors, yet somehow that guidance is rarely provided. New contributors must delve and divine and guess and pester in order to figure out where to start. It’s almost as though the community does this intentionally as a sort of rite of passage for new members. “If you can figure this out then you’re smart enough to become One Of Us.” This is incredibly arrogant and exclusionist.

Why can’t we just make it easy on people? Why can’t we spend a few hours writing some documentation and tutorials up front, guiding newbies along the community-accepted path of contribution? Long time contributors may find the concept of spoon-feeding new members offensive but doing so will not only bring in more people to the fold it will also raise the quality of the contributions from the get-go.

During this talk I’ll discuss many approaches for making it easier for new contributors to join your project.

Believe me, I know it’s not easy getting all these ducks in a row. That said, I strongly believe that any project which makes it easier to bring new contributors on board will find its quality and reputation improving by leaps and bounds. You’ll find it’s an effort very much worth making.

Speaking experience

Last year I gave two talks at OSBridge:
* http://opensourcebridge.org/sessions/682
* http://opensourcebridge.org/sessions/691

Budgets don't typically enable me to speak at too many conferences, so the list is small but steadily growing.

I've not given this talk before. It's an OSBridge exclusive for this year (not having been submitted elsewhere).

Speaker

  • Geek

    VM Brasseur

    shoeless consulting

    Biography

    VM is a manager of technical people, projects, processes, products and p^Hbusinesses. In her almost 15 years in the tech industry she has been an analyst, programmer, product manager, software engineering manager and director of software engineering. Currently she is splitting her time between shoeless consulting—a tech recruiting and management consulting firm—and writing a book translating business concepts into geek speak.

    VM blogs at {a=>h} and tweets at @vmbrasseur.

    Sessions

      • Title: How We Went Remote
      • Track: Business
      • Room: B302/303
      • Time: 1:302:15pm
      • Excerpt:

        Hiring remote workers is great for filling those holes on the team…but if you don’t have the correct infrastructure in place you’re just setting yourself—and your remote team members—up for a world of hurt. This session will detail how our engineering department went remote and thrived because of it.

      • Speakers: VM Brasseur
      • Title: A Crash Course in Tech Management
      • Track: Business
      • Room: B202/203
      • Time: 2:303:15pm
      • Excerpt:

        ‘Programmer’ and ‘Manager’ are two different titles for a reason: they’re two different jobs and skill sets. If you have managerial aspirations (or have had them foisted upon you), come to this session to learn some of the tricks of the managerial trade.

      • Speakers: VM Brasseur