Sat 24 September 2016

Fedora Join meetings to begin this week

Posted by ankur in Tech (845 words, approximately a 4 minute read)

We've had the Fedora Join SIG around for a bit now, but we haven't been very active. Recently we've seen an increase in community members willing to participate in the SIG, and in combination with the work that CommOps is doing to improve the "joining experience" for newbies, we thought that it's a good time to gain some traction.

What is the pupose of the SIG?

(I'm quoting this off the SIG wiki page)

The Fedora Join SIG aims to set up and maintain channels that let prospective contributors engage with the community. The idea here is to enable people looking to join the Fedora community to converse with existing members, make friends, find mentors, and get a feeling of what and how the community does in general, with a view to reduce the learning gradient that joining a new community entails - and make it more enjoyable!

Different teams already have different, mostly well documented, join SOPs (standard operating procedures). The infrastructure team is a great example of this. However, we often meet people who are unsure of how their skills fit into the community. We want to provide these people a channel where they can speak to existing members of the community, learn about what they do and use this information to find the right team to get started with. We help new members form relationships with members; we point them to the right resources - wiki or otherwise; and we expect that this should greatly improve the joining experience.

So, our goals are to:

  • set up a communication channel between the existing contributors and prospective contributors. Speaking to current team members is always encouraging. We could even set up a system to send "easyfix" tasks to this mailing list giving folks a chance to work on them and learn in the process.
  • guide/aid prospective contributors to turn into solid contributors. Rather than just pointing them to join.fp.o, talk to them, see what issues they face, help them decide where they want to get started.
  • to form better mentor-mentee relationships. Here, I mean "mentor" in the real sense of the word.
  • give prospective contributors a communication channel to converse amongst themselves. This is very important. Take the Google Summer of Code mailing list for instance. It is set up specifically so that the candidates can talk to each other. Since they're all in the same boat, they feel more comfortable discussing certain issues amongst themselves. They'll also be aware of what different people are up to which will give them a better idea of what they can do. It would be great if they could discuss and share the cool stuff they've begun to do. It would surely be encouraging.

Basically, look for potential, not polish. We can help them gain the polish that established contributors have.

How do we plan to help?

To begin with, we've got the infrastructure in place. We've set up a mailing list and an IRC channel on Freenode (#fedora-join). We have a group and home repository for tickets and such on Pagure, and a FAS group too. (We used to be on trac, but we closed that down in favour of Pagure.)

CommOps is currently working on improving the join process and we've started to help them with that. There's a discussion thread on the CommOps mailing list about our web space and how it can be improved for newbies, for example. (I keep saying this to everyone I meet - I dislike how redirects to an ugly data dump on a wiki page that most of us will find tedious and overwhelming to go over without any prior knowledge of Fedora!)

How can you help?

Ah, now we're talking. ;)

We need more contributors that enjoy helping out newbies: not to spoon feed newbies, rather, to teach them the Open Source way. It's a philosophy that one learns over time, but the learning process can be greatly accelerated by hanging out and speaking to others that already follow it.

We need people that understand the Free software philosophy to pass it on and educate new members: taking up tasks and closing tickets is all good, but I'd rather newbies first understood what Free software was all about, and how we, the Fedora community do our part. There are thousands of Linux distributions in existence, why should one contribute to Fedora and not another?

So, we're not discussing tooling at the moment. We already have quite a few tools, and we'll improve on what we have to begin with. What we need is more people engaging with newbies whether by just hanging out in the right places, or by helping us come up with fun ways to get more people involved.

Come to the meeting!

The IRC meeting is on Monday in #fedora-meeting-3 - please check the Fedocal entry for your local timezone. We're going to begin with introductions and then go over tickets that we've had open for a bit. Once we get that out of the way, we'll begin planning for the future, and just.. talk.

See you there!