I have only submitted a few patches for OSS projects; the reason I haven't committed more is, as Hadi notes in Submit a patch, the barrier is high in many cases. A few times I have pulled down a project hoping to contribute a feature or submit a patch, opened the solution and felt like I've stepped through the wrong door... I don't belong here, whoooa look at this code base, where do I start and then I've spent a few minutes trying to get a grip on the code but it is above my level and I just don't get it. At this point I have 2 choices, give up or ask for help.
The trouble here is that given the stock response "submit a patch" doesn't help anyone. What I’m typically looking for is help from someone who understands the project and can point me in the right direction. Essentially I'm happy to write the code to add my feature or whatever, but the OSS barrier seems high so when Oren says he's done this intentionally to keep me out... well that's not helpful, to me or him. I appreciate you can't help everyone all the time otherwise you'd never have any time to do the work in the first place, but helping someone get started to (potentially) help you would be a good step. Even if that help is in the form of some basic documentation.
I should say that I am in no way singling anyone out, not picking on any particular project or developer - what I've said above is my general feeling based on the times I have tried to contribute to OSS projects and I feel that Hadi has opened up a meaningful point of discussion. Jimmy Bogard’s post OSS Rules of Engagement proposes some good rules which I think it would be beneficial for both OSS project owners and wannabe contributors would do well to read.
| Categories: Musings