Learn Open Source Skills Without Embarrassing Yourself

*
Accepted Session
Short Form
Scheduled: Thursday, June 23, 2011 from 1:30 – 2:15pm in B301

Excerpt

New contributors are often intimidated the first time they appear in public to share a tarball, submit a patch, or open an IRC client. What if they could practice within "training levels" for open source contribution? This talk introduces the OpenHatch training missions, an open-source, interactive, entertaining way to learn the tools and culture of our community.

Description

Manuals are boring, but learning is necessary.

New contributors often have to figure out how to operate the tools of a project, like IRC, git, or svn, in a highly social environment: public communication between peers. When, for example, you post your first patch to a mailing list, it’s intimidating to know that your mistakes with the tools might reflect poorly on your programming skill.

Some video games have a “training level” where you can get shot without dying. Open source could have a training level where you can learn the skills you need without getting burned.

Our community built one. The OpenHatch training missions are a group of interactive web pages for learning skills you would use when contributing to free software like using diff, patch, tar, version control, IRC, and so on. A training mission shuns “manuals” and long, boring blobs of text, and it protects its users against learning through trial by fire. We say, “Here’s a short, concrete task to perform. Interact with our web-based robot, and it will tell you if you succeeded.” You can build up your comfort in a space without embarrassment.

Project maintainers often end up teaching basic community skills to new contributors. If you can ask them to complete a relevant training mission, you can save time and have a more knowledgeable contributor base.

In this talk, you will learn about the current training missions and discuss as a group how they can be useful to the attendees. We will highlight the training mission for a version control tool in which you are an agent for Mr. Good trying to gain the trust of Mr. Bad. We will discuss the diversity ramifications of learning community skills in a safe environment. After a tour of the OpenHatch community that built them and the Django-based implementation, we will discuss the attendees’ situations with new contributor skill levels and identify the most useful training missions to build next.

Speaking experience

Speaker

  • Asheesh Laroia

    OpenHatch

    Biography

    Asheesh loves growing camaraderie among geeks. He chaired the Johns Hopkins Association for Computing Machinery and taught Python classes at Noisebridge, San Francisco’s hackerspace. He realizes that most of the work that makes projects successful is hidden underneath the surface.

    He has volunteered his technical skills for the UN in Uganda, the EFF, and Students for Free Culture, and is a Developer in Debian. Today, he lives in San Francisco, working on OpenHatch.

    Sessions

      • Title: Learn Open Source Skills Without Embarrassing Yourself
      • Track: Culture
      • Room: B301
      • Time: 1:302:15pm
      • Excerpt:

        New contributors are often intimidated the first time they appear in public to share a tarball, submit a patch, or open an IRC client. What if they could practice within “training levels” for open source contribution? This talk introduces the OpenHatch training missions, an open-source, interactive, entertaining way to learn the tools and culture of our community.

      • Speakers: <a href="/users/810">Asheesh Laroia</a>
      • Title: Open Source Communities Panel
      • Track: Culture
      • Room: B302/03
      • Time: 10:0011:45am
      • Excerpt:

        Learn from open source community leaders who work on projects big and small.

      • Speakers: <a href="/users/5">Audrey Eschright</a>, <a href="/users/810">Asheesh Laroia</a>, <a href="/users/771">Noirin Plunkett</a>, <a href="/users/863">Jane Wells</a>, <a href="/users/587">Chris Strahl</a>