Making Better Software by Building Stronger Communities

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) thrives on the support from its community of


English: Conceptual Map of the FLOSS (Free/Lib...
English: Conceptual Map of the FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software) Polski: Konceptualna mapa FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


users. Every user can make their mark on the software they use. Every so often, one project or another puts out a call for some intensive work to get ready for a release. Case in point:



Depending on your skills and talents, one or both of these events may be right for you. If you’re neither a programmer nor teacher, but you’re not exactly new to FOSS, I’ve got another idea for you to contribute to (keep reading!), but that’s not really what I’m jawing at you about today.



How do you find ways to participate?


You see, periodically, I hear of these different events to bring together ordinary users and other non-professionals to help out, but too often it’s the wrong weekend for me, or other things come up, or …whatever. Alternately, if I’ve got some time on my hands that I could give to identifying existing bugs or kicking the tires on the documentation for one or another Linux distribution or open source application, I may not know of a particular hackathon or similar event going on. Wouldn’t it be cool if you, I, or anyone else could visit an event calendar of some sort that could help?


I am moderately surprised that no one has done this. It would seem that DistroWatch might be a natural place for something like this, but … no. The Linux Foundation, or its domain? No, either. Well, they have an event calendar, but it’s for face-to-face meetings and conferences.


English: Volunteer coordinator trying to convi...
English: Volunteer coordinator trying to convince one of the attendees to volunteer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Now open source communities never turn down volunteers, so there’s always something you can do. Some time ago, I offered some ideas for users who want to give back. But it’s always more fun to be involved with other contributors at the same time, which is why these virtual events get organized in the first place.


Is it just me, or is there a need for something like an open source volunteer events calendar? I’m thinking wiki, because I can’t do this alone. Heck, I’m not even sure I can be the main guy.


Is your favorite distro or application doing something fun to involve existing users, and attract new community members? Let me know — whatever happens, I’ll continue to post events I hear about here.


Does anyone out there want to help? Organizations and sites mentioned above want to host this? Leave a comment, or contact me directly.


English: Volunteer Team
English: Volunteer Team (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


While you’re thinking this over, I’ve got one more project to tell you about.


One More Opportunity: Give Feedback on Ubuntu Harvest


The Ubuntu Women’s Project is trying to figure out why hardly anyone visits a site that helps community members find easy bugs to fix, what some projects call “junior jobs.” They are even having trouble finding volunteers to offer feedback on the site.


Here’s what I’m going to do this week, and I hope you will too:


  1. Read over the Call for Feedback #2.
  2. Connect with the project, either via email or wiki.
  3. Go visit and poke around a bit. Try to find something useful to do.
  4. Give the honest feedback they’re looking for.
  5. (Optional for you) Report back here.


I’d go on some more about how giving back to your favorite software communities will enhance your employability, make you a better person, and the like, but I’m starting to ramble already. Just go do it!




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