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Recruitment Options For a Small-Scale FOSS Project?

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the where-is-everybody dept.

Programming 210

thermian writes "I've been developing my open source project for several years now, and I've never found a solution to one fairly important issue. How can a small-scale project attract new members? My project is pretty specialist, (no URL, sorry, I can't afford to get my server nuked) and I find that while it gets a fair bit of use, most users come to my software out of a need to solve their problem, or use my tutorials to learn about the subject, and none seem inclined to stick around and help make the product better. This is a fairly serious problem for me now, because my software has recently been adopted by a university, and I'm just not in a position to manage the entire set of applications and update everything on my own. Just preparing a version for release to students has been especially hard. The open source maxim 'Many eyes make all bugs shallow' only works if those 'many eyes' are available. So do you have any suggestions as to how, and where, to find people who fancy joining open source projects?"

cancel ×

210 comments

Hire Me! (-1, Offtopic)

(TK2)Dessimat0r (669581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373126)

No, go fuck yourselves.

step 1: post to slashdot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373128)

A few years ago, while browsing around the library downtown, I had to take a piss. As I entered the john, a big beautiful all-American football hero type, about twenty five, came out of one of the booths. I stood at the urinal looking at him out of the corner of my eye as he washed his hands. He didn't once look at me. He was "straight" and married -- and in any case I was sure I wouldn't have a chance with him.

As soon as he left, I darted into the booth he'd vacated, hoping there might be a lingering smell of shit and even a seat still warm from his sturdy young ass. I found not only the smell but the shit itself. He'd forgotten to flush. And what a treasure he had left behind. Three or four beautiful specimens floated in the bowl. It apparently had been a fairly dry, constipated shit, for all were fat, stiff, and ruggedly textured. The real prize was a great feast of turd -- a nine inch gastrointestinal triumph as thick as a man's wrist. I knelt before the bowl, inhaling the rich brown fragrance and wondered if I should obey the impulse building up inside me. I'd always been a heavy rimmer and had lapped up more than one little clump of shit, but that had been just an inevitable part of eating ass and not an end in itself.

Of course I'd had jerkoff fantasies of devouring great loads of it (what rimmer hasn't?), but I had never done it. Now, here I was, confronted with the most beautiful five-pound turd I'd ever feasted my eyes on, a sausage fit to star in any fantasy and one I knew to have been hatched from the asshole of the world's handsomest young stud.

Why not? I plucked it from the bowl, holding it with both hands to keep it from breaking.

I lifted it to my nose. It smelled like rich, ripe limburger (horrid, but thrilling), yet had the consistency of cheddar. What is cheese anyway but milk turning to shit without the benefit of a digestive tract? I gave it a lick and found that it tasted better then it smelled. I've found since then that shit nearly almost does. I hesitated no longer. I shoved the fucking thing as far into my mouth as I could get it and sucked on it like a big brown cock, beating my meat like a madman. I wanted to completely engulf it and bit off a large chunk, flooding my mouth with the intense, bittersweet flavor. To my delight I found that while the water in the bowl had chilled the outside of the turd, it was still warm inside. As I chewed I discovered that it was filled with hard little bits of something I soon identified as peanuts. He hadn't chewed them carefully and they'd passed through his body virtually unchanged. I ate it greedily, sending lump after peanutty lump sliding scratchily down my throat. My only regret was the donor of this feast wasn't there to wash it down with his piss. I soon reached a terrific climax. I caught my cum in the cupped palm of my hand and drank it down. Believe me, there is no more delightful combination of flavors than the hot sweetness of cum with the rich bitterness of shit. Afterwards I was sorry that I hadn't made it last longer. But then I realized that I still had a lot of fun in store for me. There was still a clutch of virile turds left in the bowl. I tenderly fished them out, rolled them into my hankercheif, and stashed them in my briefcase.

In the week to come I found all kinds of ways to eat the shit without bolting it right down. Once eaten it's gone forever unless you want to filch it third hand out of your own asshole -- not an unreasonable recourse in moments of desperation or simple boredom.

I stored the turds in the refrigerator when I was not using them but within a week they were all gone.

The last one I held in my mouth without chewing, letting it slowly dissolve. I had liquid shit trickling down my throat for nearly four hours. I must have had six orgasms in the process. I often think of that lovely young guy dropping solid gold out of his sweet, pink asshole every day, never knowing what joy it could, and at least once did,bring to a grateful shiteater.

Re:step 1: post to slashdot (-1, Redundant)

Starky (236203) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373262)

This guy again. Clearly someone who is vying for the "Saddest Loser on the Planet" award.


Whoever has such a sad, lonely life that they gain some kind of emotional satisfaction out of posting this kind of thing *over and over* again needs some counseling. Seriously.


Is there someone out there in the Slashdot universe who could delete these things?

Suggestion (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373142)

Suggestion: post your project name.

Re:Suggestion (5, Insightful)

Whitemice (139408) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373718)

Maybe the question was made generic so it would be of general interest? It certainly is a legitimate question for lots of projects.

Re:Suggestion (2, Insightful)

alex4u2nv (869827) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373922)

And to his question, he already has the answer. Setup a project account with one of the many large OSS hostings like sourceforge or google's. Then publicize the project like he just did.

Re:Suggestion (5, Interesting)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373812)

What gets me is that he's about to release it to an university and yet he manages to miss the most obvious resource yet: university personell. Unless the school lacks a CS department, there should be CS professors, CS grad students, and undergrads all available to work on the project.

No URL? (5, Insightful)

e4g4 (533831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373148)

no URL, sorry, I can't afford to get my server nuked
Changing that might have been your first step. Putting your site on coral cache and posting *that* link here may have gotten you a dozen people interested in helping.

Re:No URL? (3, Informative)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373228)

I thought sourceforge, or freshmeat provide free hosting for projects like this!

Stephan

Re:No URL? (2, Interesting)

edalytical (671270) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373258)

Actually I find SourceForge to be cumbersome for development. About the only thing it has going for it is a large user base and shell accounts. Making releases is just plain tedious.

Re:No URL? (3, Informative)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373304)

Making releases is just plain tedious.

The last time I messed with it it was pretty straightforward. Is it somehow more complicated now than "type in some name/version info for the release, upload a source tarball"?

About the only thing it has going for it is a large user base and shell accounts.

Well, that and free web hosting for the project site.

Re:No URL? (1)

edalytical (671270) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373362)

For one, you can't automate releases. You have to upload using FTP and then you have to select your file from a long list of other recently uploaded files on a webpage. Plus do a bunch of other stuff that sucks.

Re:No URL? (2, Insightful)

Lershac (240419) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373446)

waaaaaahhhhh. work! waaaahhhhhhh

Re:No URL? (3, Insightful)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373574)

Childish, but I agree with you. That said I always find it amusing when people whine or whatever over something provided to them FOR FREE. Personally I've never had a problem uploading a tar ball, nor has the only other programmer I know well enough for this (Oblig. Plug FreePDB [sourceforge.net] ). If you have a problem with SourceForge then try FreshMeat, or get yourself a Dreamhost account and host things there - that way your own server isn't really getting nuked and things are just SEP. Basically, quit whinging about it and fix your damned problem.

Back on topic: IMHO the best way to get more interest in the project is to find like minded people. What is your software trying to do/solve? Google something that would find it - post your URL in a few forums. Leave the link in your forum signature with a "looking for developers". Actually do something about getting your stuff out there. An online resume with a link to the software perhaps? There is a hundred ways to get information out to the world. Mostly they just require a little effort.

Re:No URL? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373560)

ReleaseForge takes away some of the pain.

Re:No URL? (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 6 years ago | (#23374260)

"ReleaseForge takes away some of the pain."

well, it's a nice gui, but it doesn't look like it's scriptable... is there anything that does what release forge does, that can be scripted, and perhaps automatically fill in values that (this gui) asks you to fill in?

Re:No URL? (1)

martinmcc (214402) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373646)

uploading your file is hardly a hardship. Pray tell, how else do you offer an app without somesort of uploading, and ftp may have its faults, but for a (usually) small file, it can be done in a few strokes/clicks.

The selecting from a long list is a different issue, one for the downloader, so not immediately relevent, but anyhow, if you spend a small amount of time, then this is a simple and straight foward task for the user (if you are lazy and spend no time mamaging it, then yes, you _COULD_ make it more complicated for the user).

But as the parent posters point was, this is a site that offers _free_ hosting and mangement software for your project. For a small amount of effort on your part, you get a /free/ base to launch your app with. Pretty fair in my book.

Re:No URL? (3, Interesting)

edalytical (671270) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373840)

No, selecting the file from a list of other recently (an unrelated) uploaded files is part of releasing your software on SourceForge. If you actually maintained a project there you'd know what I'm talking about. (sorry not trying to be rude).

My original point was that some people find SourceForge to be more trouble than it's worth and host their own project on their own server.

Of course you have to upload your file, but, like I said, it can't be automated. Part of being an effective developer is automating redundant tasks, like releasing software. You've hear of ubiquitous automation, right?

I like SourceForge and use it a lot, but there are tradeoffs. "Free" doesn't mean free from criticism.

Re:No URL? (1)

martinmcc (214402) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373942)

I have never hosted a project on sourceforge, so fair point you caught me out :)

    Disagree that creating your own site is easier (you may build a site so it becomes easier, but you are going to have to maintain that project for a long time before the time spent setting it up pays off).

  Many people do not have a static IP or the knowledge of how to get a domain/sever space/ write the cgi etc to do this, or want to

    Free of course does not mean free of critism, but you put it across like it is a bad thing to use - but so far you have not given anything that is better.

   

Re:No URL? (1)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373312)

That doesn't surprise me, but its free after all.

Any better aternative you would recommend?

Stephan

Re:No URL? (1)

edalytical (671270) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373414)

I wish I had a recommendation, but I don't. Google's Project Hosting is nice from an enduser perspective, but they don't offer shell accounts or git or Mercurial repositories.

Re:No URL? (4, Interesting)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373494)

How about sites like http://www.assembla.com/ [assembla.com] ?

Re:No URL? (1)

edalytical (671270) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373522)

That looks promising. I'll check it out.

Re:No URL? (1)

Whitemice (139408) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373664)

I find Google's project hosting to be sufficient for my smallish projects; and a couple of larger ones I work with have switched too. It doesn't offer all the bells and whistles but it is reliable and fast (unlike sourceforge).

On the other hand I don't think just using a hosting service will get you any developers; Open Source developers are actually pretty scarce (count how many projects on any of these sites are actually abandoned).

Re:No URL? (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373374)

a large user base
That might be considered a huge plus, particularly for this developer.

I'm curious...do you have an alternative suggestion which is better in your eyes?

Re:No URL? (1)

edalytical (671270) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373512)

Unfortunately no, I don't know of a better alternative.

Re:No URL? (5, Insightful)

Heembo (916647) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373670)

Actually I find SourceForge to be cumbersome for development.
Google code is much easier to use.

PS: The idea of getting "highly skilled software engineers to work on your project for free" is over. Find a corporate/university sponsor and pay someone - or find a corporate/university sponsor who is willing to donate an engineers time to the project. Or be VERY patient and be happy for a small amount of progress. Many paid engineers work on projects like Linux.

Re:No URL? (1)

Whitemice (139408) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373730)

Make sure you are listed on the main index sites, especially freshmeat, will certainly help people find your project. It may or may not help you find developers (probably not, from experience) but the more users you find the more likely you are to pick up a developer.

No URL == Credibility (5, Insightful)

edalytical (671270) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373328)

For some people shameless self-promotion feels very sleazy. Apart from that, not everyone looking for help on their project is going to get a story on Slashdot. His question was probably accepted because it was legit and not just an attempt to tap /. for talent.

If he would have included info about the project there would have been a dozen +5 Funny post that said: "Well for starters you could try posting on /. harharhar."

Personally I find this question interesting an I think it warrants more than "post the link".

Re:No URL == Credibility (4, Insightful)

e4g4 (533831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373408)

I understand your point, but frankly, the "harhar post it on slashdot" crowd is absolutely right. The people he wants read this site, I can guarantee it, and at least a mention of the project's site would have done him some enormous good. Honestly, creating interest in something you're doing involves announcing its existence to like-minded people. What better forum than this one?

Re:No URL == Credibility (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373594)

I like the "how do I make more people aware of my project" vs "I don't want you thousands of people to be aware of my project" juxtaposition.

It almost had to be intentional. It probably wasn't, but almost.

Re:No URL == Credibility (2, Interesting)

conlaw (983784) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373972)

In addition to not giving us the URL, you didn't even tell us what the project is. For example, I might be interested in helping out on a program that makes some part of legal research easier but not on a physics project. If even the parameters of the project are this hush-hush, you aren't likely to get a lot of help from the FOSS community -- remember the "O" stands for "Open."

Re:No URL == Credibility (4, Funny)

spisska (796395) | more than 6 years ago | (#23374112)

Well I've got a project I'm working right now that I'd love everyone to know the details of. It's really super.

It will be the most secure and robust thing you've ever seen. In fact it will be the BEST thing you've ever seen.

We've got it in the works right now. I've seen the early betas, and it's AWESOME.

It's sort of open-source but not really if you read the fine print. But who reads that?

This will do everything you've always wanted it to do and more. It will literally blow you away.

When we release this thing, everyone will be crapping their trousers about how cool it is and how we managed to sit on it for so long. You really will be so amazed that you will soil yourselves.

Hell YEAH! It's that awesome. Just don't ask us too many detailed questions about what it is or what it does.

Just stick around and wait for the press releases. They'll tell you how incredibly cool our new product is.

Thanks,

Steve Ballmer

Re:No URL == Credibility (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373776)

For some people shameless self-promotion feels very sleazy.
Or the code looks really ugly?

Re:No URL == Credibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373828)

But how can we help if you won't let us nuke you?

Re:No URL? (5, Interesting)

complete loony (663508) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373346)

First result for "carey pridgeon" [google.com] is nmod [google.com] . If this is the right project, I'm not sure why he thought we could /. Google's servers.

Re:No URL? (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373556)

...and from that I guess the university is heriot watt.

Carrier Pidgeon *snicker* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23374082)

I'm sure he's never heard anyone say that before!

Re:No URL? (1)

jessiej (1019654) | more than 6 years ago | (#23374262)

so if it's nmod, hosted on google, what's the bandwidth concern for?

Is it a computer science related university? (2, Insightful)

Lord Graga (696091) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373150)

In that case, you could ask the university to actively encourage students to improve your software as a part of a smaller project (Implement this feature, find some bugs, etc). You could also ask the university to finance a developer for this specific issue, or maybe put a proffessor with a clue on the job.

More support requests *your* problem? (5, Insightful)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373610)

My thoughts exactly. But what's more important:

This is a fairly serious problem for me now (..)
No it isn't your problem. Unless they're paying you, you are not in any way obligated to make users of your project happy. Ofcourse you try to, but any user should understand they're not the only one with questions. And if nobody helps out, you're just a single person with limited resources.

Suppose your user base where bigger. Say 100k users. Or 10 million. Could anyone still expect you to help out anyone of those users? Ofcourse not, and in that case these 10M users would be forced to help themselves (to some degree) anyway. The same goes for a university that decides to add X students to your userbase.

Probably it's more a question of why you are working on the project, and what you get from that. Set your own priorities, decide how much time you want to invest, and go from there.

May I suggest you ask the university to do some inhouse filtering of issues/questions (eg. using a local webpage / contact person), and give you a regularly updated 'top 10' list of what they consider most urgent/important.

  • If you want to support the widest possible userbase, then you might work on those issues that *also* affect other users of your project.
  • If you put this university first, then you could work their list from the top down.
  • If you're just doing it for fun, you could cherrypick from their list whatever issue seems most interesting.
--
Do only what only you can do. -Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

Try the University (5, Insightful)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373154)

my software has recently been adopted by a university, and I'm just not in a position to manage the entire set of applications and update everything on my own.
Why not try at the university? If they adopted your software, they might/probably are also be interested in getting it further developed.

Re:Try the University (1)

that_itch_kid (1155313) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373358)

Absolutely. As a CS student myself, I know that there are plenty of undergrads that would love to have the chance to work on something, particularly if it's going to be used by, and benefit, they Uni they attend.

Re:Try the University (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373404)

Why not try at the university? If they adopted your software, they might/probably are also be interested in getting it further developed.

That's a good point, but of course it's hard to guess what the application is.

But more generally, I would say that support is more forthcoming if you make tinkering with your application by end users easier. For example, storing your graphics as external files, maximizing use of plain-text config files and, as mentioned elsewhere, allowing plug-ins or making the effort to make your application very easy to control externally/talk to other applications.

Then, hopefully, people will find uses for your application that you might not have thought of yourself and then your audience broadens and the chance of getting partners for development greater.

Re:Try the University (5, Interesting)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373466)

From the GPL version 3.0 [gnu.org]

Emphasis mine... take note of the emphasis.

15. Disclaimer of Warranty.

THERE IS NO WARRANTY FOR THE PROGRAM, TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW. EXCEPT WHEN OTHERWISE STATED IN WRITING THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND/OR OTHER PARTIES PROVIDE THE PROGRAM "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND , EITHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. THE ENTIRE RISK AS TO THE QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE OF THE PROGRAM IS WITH YOU. SHOULD THE PROGRAM PROVE DEFECTIVE, YOU ASSUME THE COST OF ALL NECESSARY SERVICING, REPAIR OR CORRECTION.

Also from the same source:

4. Conveying Verbatim Copies.

You may convey verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice; keep intact all notices stating that this License and any non-permissive terms added in accord with section 7 apply to the code; keep intact all notices of the absence of any warranty; and give all recipients a copy of this License along with the Program.

You may charge any price or no price for each copy that you convey, and you may offer support or warranty protection for a fee.

Here is my suggestion for you. Issue a letter to the university that has adopted your project and lay out a plan for supporting your software that flows a little bit like a business plan.

Dear University,

I have recently noted that you have adopted the use of a F/OSS software program that I am the primary developer for. I would like to thank you for your choice to promote Free and Open Sourced Software and say that I am honored by your selection of my project in particular to serve your needs.

At this time, I feel that it would be appropriate to inform you that this F/OSS project, while it may accomplish all of your needs, is not considered feature complete or mature at the present time. There are a number of features which I feel would benefit your University that I have planned for the next release, but scarce time and a lack of a budget causes progress on this release to move along at a slower than desirable pace. Additionally, due to the unwarrented nature of F/OSS it is appropriate for me to caution you that your use of the software that I have developed is at your own risk (I have done my best to make this software as bulletproof as possible, but undiscovered bugs are known to exist in the most heavily tested software products).

Having said all that, I am greatly interested the opportunity that University use of my F/OSS project presents, and I would like to present a set of possibilities for consideration that would greatly improve my ability to guarantee that you have the most mature, feature-complete software possible in the months ahead.

  1. *** A support agreement between the University and myself (though affiliating yourself with a proper business entity to protect your personal assets would be VERY prudent) so that I can guarantee support on any issues with the F/OSS project encountered by the University. By enlisting the services of the author before issues occur, I hope it would give you assurance that I am committed to the F/OSS program and peace of mind that things will just as intended.
  2. *** A development agreement between the University and myself to produce and release features that would benefit the University.
  3. *** A partnership agreement between the University and myself so that we can build a working relationship that will be mutually beneficial. Depending on the needs of the University, I could offer to mentor as many as a dozen students whose assistance could greatly accelerate the development of the maturity of the F/OSS project.

I hope you will consider these possibilities and that you remain satisfied with the utilization of my F/OSS program. I look forward to being able to work with your University to continue to develop software together with hopes of it becoming useful for other Universities throughout the country and throughout the world.

Best Regards,

*signed*

Re:Try the University (1)

jessiej (1019654) | more than 6 years ago | (#23374242)

is not considered feature complete or mature at the present time
You want them to keep using it though, so you might not want it to sound like they're going to be unhappy with the product.

Forums..... (4, Interesting)

budword (680846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373156)

Every once in a while on linuxquestions.org someone will ask where they can help out. Might be a good place to start.

http://code.google.com/p/nmod/ (3, Informative)

waterwingz (68802) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373162)

Just a guess ?

can't link from subject line ? (1)

waterwingz (68802) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373202)

Sorry - hard to link from the subject line. Try this :

http://code.google.com/p/nmod/ [google.com]

Recruit? (5, Informative)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373172)

You can't really "recruit" FOSS developers. They'll join if they find your project and find it interesting enough. The best thing you can do is increase exposure. So why, when you managed to get a story posted to /., did you decide to hide what the project is? You had the perfect opportunity to expose thousands of developers to your project and you decided not to take that opportunity. Bad move.

Re:Recruit? (1)

Swizec (978239) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373248)

As the saying goes:
All programmerers can be good managers, but few actually are.

Re:Recruit? (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373384)

You can't really "recruit" FOSS developers
Well, I think you probably could if you offer money - they have to pay bills too.

Re:Recruit? (2, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373436)

Money is often the best solution. Think of it as a "on-demand" project. If they want the bugs to get fixed, they should pay.

The downside is that if the pay ends up being greater than the price for some commercial software, you're screwed. I think this is one of the reasons why many Open Source projects fail. Not large enough userbase.

Perhaps another solution would be offering the software to other universities, and ask for help there.

Re:Recruit? (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 6 years ago | (#23374104)

> Well, I think you probably could if you offer money - they have to pay bills too.

I was offered a competitive salary to work on a FOSS project.
A colleague of mine took the offer, though I did not.

It's not unheard of.

Yes you can recruit them! I've done it. (4, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373604)

Quite often the userbase is not aware of the programmer shortage.

If you have a user list then quite often a plea for programmers/testers will achieve results. I have done this a few times for my major project and it has always worked.

I also disagree wiht parent that you should have posted the url on slashdot. You would have been slashdotted, for sure, the chances of finding interested developers is low. Most would have just been idle browsers.

A post on your own user list is far more likely to give results since the users have a vested interest in the software and are far more likely to be open to being "recruited".

Re:Yes you can recruit them! I've done it. (1)

Whitemice (139408) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373752)

> Quite often the userbase is not aware of the
> programmer shortage.

Agree, there is nothing wrong with being VERY up front with the projects needs.

> If you have a user list then quite often a plea
> for programmers/testers will achieve results. I
> have done this a few times for my major project
> and it has always worked.

I'm less optimistic than always, it depends a great deal upon the type of project, but it certainly it acceptable for a Open project to occasionally ping the user base for potential developers.

> I also disagree wiht parent that you should
> have posted the url on slashdot.

Agree, a project needing developers isn't really news anyway. If Slashdot started carring every project's call for developers....

> chances of finding interested developers is low.

Yep.

> Most would have just been idle browsers.

Or worse, hordes of malcontents.

Re:Recruit? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373796)

Well, I guess that depends on what kind of attention you get. If you get 300% more feature requests, 300% more obscure bug reports and 30% more help coding it up you'll just feel even more overwhelmed and understaffed. Or you can think it'll at least speed it up 30%, but I think he wanted advice more specificly to improve the user/developer ratio...

Re:Recruit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373898)

So you're saying you've got a free piece of software that you need to support, but you can't afford to support it and you can't afford to hire/convince someone else to write code for it for free?

Wow. Shocker.

Slashdotters don't like be advertised to ... (1)

pbhj (607776) | more than 6 years ago | (#23374094)

My guess: Slashdotters don't like be advertised to so he subtly hid the project but used a distinctive name as his gmail account name.

Then he got a friend to post a namecheck and point out that he was being a doofus and that he should have linked to the project.

3 ... developers?

Incidentally in soviet Russia, Natalie Portman told me netcraft had confirmed, FOSS develops you. I certainly welcome our new FOSS developed overlords.

Specifics (4, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373180)

It's really difficult to give advice without knowing the specifics. For instance, you might have luck adding a plugin system, so that the barrier to entry is low enough for more people to join in without feeling like they have to become a proper developer. But that only works for some types of application.

Spend More Time Recruiting (3, Interesting)

Starky (236203) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373220)

If your software is being adopted by a university, perhaps you could get some interest from CS students. In general, students are more likely to have both the interest and the time to work on F/OSS projects.


You may also consider adjusting the amount of time you have to devote to various tasks to increase the amount of time you spend cultivating the ecosystem. For example, if you spend 70% of your time coding, 20% managing documentation / the web site / etc., and 10% of your time with PR, answering user e-mails, reaching out to users, etc., try upping the 10% to 20% or more. Linus' coding chops were only one part of why we've all heard of Linux.

Personality, and money. (3, Insightful)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373256)

Not publicizing the project name suggests you're either guarded with the project... and if you're concerned about the bandwidth, you're probably self-hosting, which means you're probably not on SF.net, Berlios, etc... which in itself suggests you're not as open as you'd like to think you are. Also, it sounds like you want someone specifically to share the workload, but you didn't mention any form of reimbursement. Nobody who's any good will volunteer to be your employee. If you want an employee you have to pay, and if you want a partner you have to share. At first glance, it doesn't look like there's much of either going on.

Same problem (3, Interesting)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373282)

I have this exact same problem with two of my open source PHP projects. No give, all take. It's been like this for years despite my best efforts to motivate people.

I have a few developers on one project that have never really contributed anything too, I have tried several methods in motivating them but all I get is the one liner commited from them and then nothing for years.

I wish I had an answer to this problem, but I don't think there is one. Everyone is interested in the popular projects and the rest are left out.

Re:Same problem (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373568)

In other words, you and the OP are mad that you can't get people to work for free? Free software *means* giving.

Re:Same problem (3, Insightful)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373688)

I'm not mad at all and I have given a lot to both projects.

My point is that there is a myth that "if you build it they will come", it's not true because people want the reputation for contributing to popular projects not my useful but no name projects. It doesn't look as impressive on their CV.

Re:Same problem (1)

LetterRip (30937) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373674)

The ratio of developers to users will always be quite small (and by quite small I mean less than 1 significant developer per 100,000 downloads, or 1 significant developer per 10,000 users) except for

1) Where it is at the core of a business process for a highly technical audience (ie the linux kernel, php, python)

or

2) It is replacing software that has as its primary competitors software in the thousands or tens of thousands per seat (Blender, mysql)

or

3) It is sexy or fun to work on (Ogre3D, Blender, Firefox)

The vast majority of software does not have any of those qualities and thus is unlikely to attract much programming talent.

LetterRip

Everything you've read about OSS is bullshit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373290)

Congrats, Eric S Raymond lied to you and you believed him. Have fun with the rest of your life.

Sounds like the University is abusing you (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373296)

So you made a special student release? Why? Just because the University asked?

I would have politely told them "can't do it, not enough resources".

abandon it (2, Interesting)

BroadbandBradley (237267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373298)

walk away from it until someone else picks it up, and then join the effort.

Lack of info (4, Informative)

kernowyon (1257174) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373316)

As mentioned by another /.er, it appears to be the project nMod, which happens to have a page at http://code.google.com/p/nmod/ [google.com]
Why did the OP not link to that page? Surely Google can handle a little slashdotting! For those who don't want to follow the link -

The nMod nBody Modelling Toolkit provides software to run experiments in the field of nBody modelling on a normal home computer.
This means modelling asteroid/comet motion, spacecraft flight, planetary systems, or stellar cluster/small galaxy systems.
The toolkit contains a Particle Particle nBody model, an OpenGL viewer to display the output of the nBody model, and a number of utilities for generating new projects and editing existing output files.

If you really want people to jump onboard with your project, then you need to publicise it. No point complaining that nobody helps if folks have never heard of it.

recuitment options for planet/population rescue (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373364)

consider ALL of your other 'options'. see you there? you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071229/ap_on_sc/ye_climate_records;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080108/ts_alt_afp/ushealthfrancemortality;_ylt=A9G_RngbRIVHsYAAfCas0NUE
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece

just follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn. anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071229/ap_on_sc/ye_climate_records;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in.

for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it?

we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster.

meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);
http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html [cnn.com]

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'.

the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way.

the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US;

gov. bush denies health care for the little ones

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html

& pretending that it isn't happening here

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece

Go Out And Ask (1)

thePsychologist (1062886) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373366)

Unfortunately there's no magic button that you can press that will get all the developers of the world thinking seriously about your project. There are services (on SourceForge) for instance that will allow you to put up a "Want Ad" for programmers, and there are other services that make it easy for people to contribute (distributed version control for instance).

So get around, use those services. But what will help most is finding people that you think might be interested and asking. Go to a forum, and post a request there. Ask yourself, what benefit will these people gain in helping your project? Will they be able to use the benefits directly? Ask friends if you have any. Go to a local Linux user's group (they've not died out everywhere), and make a presentation to them. Set up a part of your website that outlines why contributers should contribute. If you have extra money offer bounties on functionality. Go to every website for developers and post a volunteer wanted thing (if they permit that, don't spam).

You have to work to make your project visible to the possibly interested. It takes lots of effort.

what a joke (-1, Flamebait)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373388)

1. Post on /. Bitching about not having devs. 2. Don't provide a link to get involved or any specifics. 3. Create a successfull free software project? Good luck!

Um.. students? (1)

n3r0.m4dski11z (447312) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373396)

"my software has recently been adopted by a university"
Seems like a no brainer to me. Get students to help you for credit. Im sure there are some programming classes that would love to have a real world project to work on. Talk to some professors there. See if you can integrate your program into the curriculum.

GSoC (5, Insightful)

morrison (40043) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373420)

Get accepted into the Google Summer of Code [google.com] !

It's becoming increasingly more competitive for organizations to become accepted as the program continues to evolve, but any established project with a vibrant user community has the potential to get accepted. Once accepted, Google basically provides an incentive for students to become involved with a project's development by seeding them with a summer stipend. It's a little more involved than that, but that's the gist.

This is the first year BRL-CAD [brlcad.org] gets to participate and I can already say it's looking to be a lot of fun. It forces a project to organize, coordinate, market, and communicate more. It's a lot of work but well worth it ... and very exciting to see the increase in developer interest!

Re:GSoC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373794)

Impossible. Google only picks a few small time projects. They prefer to pick large projects with lots of popularity already. If the software is web based, there's a bigger chance. Look at the GSOC list very carefully and note how few small projects there are.

captain obvious... (0)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373458)

Ever considered offering money, or are you only after a free (beer) help?

I expect there's some kind of clearing house for jobs people want done. I forget, but didn't Yahoo!, AOL or someone like that have some system for this sort of thing?

Does this ring any bells for anyone?

Re:captain obvious... (0, Offtopic)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373622)

Ever considered offering money, or are you only after a (FREE BEER!) help?
FTFY

Re:captain obvious... (0, Offtopic)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373678)

In the words of Jeff, "Well, yeah. That'd work.".

Re:captain obvious... (0, Offtopic)

certain death (947081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373672)

Amazon Mechanical Turk. That said...I own a hosting company and will gladly offer hosting to a few FOSS projects...if you can figure out how to get ahold of me. :o)

Perfect Solution (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373528)

Do like this [money.co.uk] kid; just replace the gaming with coding.

try the gay bar (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373578)

all you open source idiots are fags.

Chill (1)

martinmcc (214402) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373602)


Are you making money out of the universitity deal - if so then it is a different question, you want to know how to make money out of goodwill.

If not then the universitity deal is irrelevent - you write OS software because you want to, who uses it or what they do with it should only ever be of secondary concern, and if it because more worrying than enjoying working on it, drop it.

If you are looking for like minded people to share your interest and help you, then that is a matter of going out to find them - go to chat rooms and forums etc that you find interesting - you are more likely to find people of the same interests there (much like you are doing in posting here, so well done in that :))

So, good luck, enjoy the code and disconcern yourself with all else :)

Just Offer Everyone... (2, Funny)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373624)

Free punch and pie.

That'll get 'em for sure! ;)

He should have submitted to... (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373658)

Ask Slashdot?

Re:Just Offer Everyone... (1)

mrami (664567) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373846)

Wait a minute!

What kind of punch, and what kind of pie?

Re:Just Offer Everyone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373854)

Or cake, it worked for aperature

google can help you with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373638)

You may have heard that Google is now offering a free email relay service for spammers [slashdot.org] . (Really, 6GB of storage and a spam relay? I don't know how Google keeps topping themselves!) So, why not just scrape addresses from the top 1000 most active Sourceforce projects and send them a friendly letter? Better yet, make it a friendly chain letter, e.g.

Dear Sir,

You do not know me but I am developing a new free and open sores operating system called GNU/Thermianix. Basically I plan to fork every project in a typical Ubuntu disto, rename all the projects (e.g. Emacs => Thermiacs, GNOME => Therminome), and perhaps add a dashing window manager theme. (I have a close-up photo of my back zits that I think will make a lovely wallpaper.) This project already has buy-in at my local shitty university, because I volunteered as a student assistant in the spring intro. programming course and installed Thermianix on all the lab PCs without asking anyone. Anyway, I figured that you would be an ideal addition to my development team, because judging by your contribution to [yet another worthless window manager, text editor, or some other half-baked solution to a problem already solved by a dozen other open sores projects HEY MAN YOU CANT TELL ME WHAT TO WORK ON CUZ ITS OPEN SORES FUCK ALL THOSE OTHER GUYS MY PROGRAM IS THE BEST AND ANYWAY ITS NOT LIKE THERE ARE MORE ESTABLISHED PROJECTS THAT COULD REALLY BECOME SOMETHING SPECIAL IF ONLY I COULD WORK EFFECTIVELY IN A TEAM THAT I DIDNT CONTOL] on SourceForce, you have a lot of free time to waste! We might even be able to get it mentioned on Slashdot, if that troll kdawson will take a break from posting flamebait.

LOVE XOXOXOXOXO,
Thermian

P.S. If you do not forward this to ten of your developer friends, then you will... DIE! Preferably friends who aren't already contributing to one of the top 1000 most active SourceForge projects because I may have kind of already emailed them kthxbye.
I hereby release that email under the Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License with extra cheese and no mayo, so you may use it for your nefarious spamming purposes, contingent on compliance with the license terms. Anyway, you'd better start spamming now, because you never know when Google will stop running that "beta" spam relay and begin charging for it---or, worse yet, appending AdSense advertisements to all your spam!
Love,
A troll (not kdawson, another one)

business model (1)

firewood (41230) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373684)

Charge for support, and use the money to hire good programmers (including possibly yourself). If you can charge enough to make a profit, other companies may try to get into the business, and eventually provide even more support and project contributions for your users.

If no users of your project will pay, it means that the project wasn't really that valuable to them; they might just be trying to take advantage of your voluntary slave labor. You can keep on supporting your project as an act of charity. Or you can walk away if you prefer to use or contribute your valuable time elsewhere.

one possible solution (2, Interesting)

rs79 (71822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373768)

This is A solution but it's not quick and easy but might work in the long term and should probably scale.

The problem is you want somebody who is qualified to hit the ground running on your project. With the same OSS mindset. Chances are very high that person is already up to their ass in alligators with their own project.

Maybe some sort of cooperative agreement would work. I'll give you 40 hours to work on hyour project if you help me for 40 hours.

Or sommething like that.

Just a thought.

Some common sense ... (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373780)

You just missed out on your first chance to recruit people from slashdot, I'd say it's hopeless unless you start thinking in more practical terms. If the project is interesting enough for some people to devote their free time to, all you need is exposure, so stop crying about your server bandwidth / find a practical solution to that problem (Google cache or whatever).

Create a job posting and market it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373866)

There are lots of talented developers out there currently in school, or who otherwise have free time. Create a job posting and market it to them. Sure you can't pay them, but working on it with you does have a lot of things to offer people:
1) Resume fodder
2) Experience
3) Recommendations you can write

So treat it like a normal job. You could also consider getting an intern for the summer.

What do you need and where are you looking? (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373868)

First thing I can think of is you have yourself covered in the areas that the program covers but not in the areas that the program needs help (if it is an n-body motion type program as speculated and you are getting astronomer/physics people but not programmers...right?).

What you may want to do is look at your 'program needs' list and post in the related places for development of those needs. I.e. say your program uses a GUI in QT and you believe it can use improvement, post about your problems in a QT forum or a user interface related forum, you will at least have the right people who know GUIs to look at your user interface...

Also if your program module does something in that area you feel came out nifty, post a 'what do you think of my GUI for x' post, people may be interested in checking out something different and offer you some tips for improvement. Or if it is really bad, you might post a 'I'm a real GUI noob, please take a look and offer suggestions/help."

You won't attract programmers if all you talk about is n-body physics (unless they are physics programmers, which probably have their own physics projects.

make it easy (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373870)

I have tried and failed to help out on some open-source projects in the past, eventually abandoning them because I couldn't figure out the basics. I'm a pretty good mostly-C programmer with a smattering of other languages, and most of my experience is in embedded systems.

Here are some questions to which it should be easy to find answers:

1. How do I get the code?
1a. Where is the repository, and what type (cvs, svn...)?
1b. What branch/version should I check out?
1c. What external projects/libraries/etc. does it depend on, and how do I get them, and which versions of them do I need? (If allowed by the license, consider hosting a version with your source for one-stop shopping.)
1d. Ideally put this in a step-by-step "for dummies" set of instructions on your project's web page. Or you could make available a script to run that does it all for you - but well-documented so I can figure out what the script is doing and why. Oh, and make sure it works for you if you follow it exactly on a virgin machine!

2. How do I build it?
2a. What language(s) is the source written in?
2b. What compiler(s)/build system(s) do I need, and where do I get them?
2c. Where are the makefile(s)/build files etc. and what does each of them build, exactly?
2d. See 1d.

3. How do I run/use it, and where is the target(s) (executable, shared lib, whatever...) that was built?

4. How can I get help if I need it?
4a. IRC chat is useful, but if most of the developers are on the other side of the world, it would be nice to also have a mailing list to which to post so I don't have to stay up all night. Preferably a mailing list that allows attachments for error output or screenshots.
4b. Ideally your FAQ should actually be made up of questions people have actually asked, especially if they are asked frequently. FAQs rarely do this for some reason - I've often seen the same question asked over and over in help forums, and never answered.
4c. Answer the questions people are asking. Even if the answer is "if you can't figure this out, you don't belong here" - try to phrase that as nicely as you can.

5. What is your process for managing versions and how/when they are changed in your repository?
5a. If you allow checkins of incomplete code, how do I know if I've found a real bug that I should fix, versus something that will be "fixed" when the person working on the feature checks in the rest of it?

I've had trouble finding these answers on small, big, and really big projects.

Those are the ones I can remember having trouble with right now. If you think the answers to these should be obvious, you are looking for programmers who either have experience in all the tools you are using, or who are smarter than me. Which is alright, but either way, it would be nice of you to at least put down a list of required skills and experience, so I don't waste my time trying to help and then give up in frustration.

Thanks for letting me vent.

We all know what Mila Kunis would say. (5, Insightful)

Anthony Boyd (242971) | more than 6 years ago | (#23373954)

This is a fairly serious problem for me now, because my software has recently been adopted by a university, and I'm just not in a position to manage the entire set of applications and update everything on my own. Just preparing a version for release to students has been especially hard.

I'm sorry to word this so aggressively, but what the hell are you doing? Open Source does not mean "I am free labor for everyone." Nor does it mean, "I am a doormat, please walk all over me."

Listen, I'm no Linux kernel developer. I'm a poetry guy who was looking for a cheap way to get my poems out in front of eyeballs back in 1994, and coincidentally the Web had just appeared. So I'm only a long-time Web geek at best. And maybe that's not the kind of experience that some would respect. But I've put out probably 100 Open Source products in that time -- 50 phpBB mods, 10 Greasemonkey scripts, 5 Movable Type plugins, and a handful of awful, awful old scripts that nobody should ever use. I'm a father of two with a full-time job, and I've have had 15 year-olds tell me they couldn't be bothered to read the readme, because their time is more valuable than my own. I've had people come to my forums, stomp their virtual feet, and demand that I support them for free in much better fashion. After all, they ask, why did I release a product if I don't intend to add their feature requests and do the installations for them?

Listen, their agendas are not your agendas. Their timetables are not your timetables. And most most MOST importantly, your job is not to be their serving wench. It's not a job at all! Get it straight in your head what you are doing this for. I can't tell you why you do it, but making yourself so stressed out that you have to post on Slashdot begging for help (but not giving out your project name, so you can be an even bigger martyr when it all goes south) IS NOT THE REASON.

You know what I do? I say yes if I can, maybe if maybe, and no if I cannot. And I mean it. Don't make it more than that. Stop feeling obligated. And if you made promises that do obligate you in ways that you cannot meet, it's not the end of the world, but get back to the table and renegotiate. If people blackmail you with statements like "I guess I need another product" or "YOU put it out there, YOU DO IT" then just put that burden right to the side. I don't get bothered that someone might uninstall the app. They're cutting their losses (their lost time) and in the process they cut my losses (of time invested in someone who cannot help himself or herself) too. If you say you cannot build a feature and someone complains, tell them to build it. Seriously. Don't be mean, don't be vindictive, don't be snide. Mean it. If you are stressed and this isn't even your paying job, then draw lines and see who comes to your side. If they don't, then it didn't really matter to them. In which case, you're free to work on what matters to you, in a way that is healthy and sane.

"thermian", just tell people who you really are... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23373958)

thermian writes: "I've been developing my open source project for several years now, and I've never found a solution to one fairly important issue. How can a small-scale project attract new members? My project is pretty specialist ... and I find that while it gets a fair bit of use, most users come to my software out of a need to solve their problem, or use my tutorials to learn about the subject, and none seem inclined to stick around and help make the product better.
Hello, thermian---or should I say... Hans Reiser? (Your anagrams are showing, Hans. THERMIAN = I MEAN HTR, or Hans Thomas Resier?) I hope that prison is going well. We're all really happy and, truthfully, relieved that you've decided to man-up and gather a development team to steward your filesystem toward kernel inclusion while you're in the "big house". FOSS developers will naturally flock to a maturing codebase that appears to already solve real problems for a specialized audience; after all, perhaps the second-hardest part of a project is getting enough momentum to concretely implement the first version of what are often vague and lofty goals, and in the case of ReiserFS, that's done. I would say that all you need is a little publicity, but buddy, you've already got it. ("All publicity is good publicity", they say, and your filesystem is now one of the most [in]famous FOSS projects around.) I think in your case, you should instead focus your energy on what may be the most difficult part of FOSS project management: maintaining momentum in the long run. That requires continuity, frequent releases, measurable progress toward project goals... and all of those things require continuity of contribution. I'm kind of beating around the bush here, so I'll just come out and say it: you can't act like a dick, because then developers will leave the project after one or two commits and you'll never build up the pool of 4-5 deep-hacking experts that's necessary to keep a large project more than nominally alive. You can't do it all by yourself, Hans---or, more importantly, you shouldn't try to, because no one is going to trust their files to one man's personal vision of the storage & I/O universe---and even if they were inclined to, what happens if that one man happens to be... sent to prison for murder? Sorry, Hans, I know that hurts, but I have faith that you are beginning to see the light. You wouldn't have posted to Slashdot asking for help otherwise.

This is a fairly serious problem for me now, because my software has recently been adopted by a university, and I'm just not in a position to manage the entire set of applications and update everything on my own. Just preparing a version for release to students has been especially hard.
I'll say. What, do you have to smuggle out patches written in your own blood on cigarette cartons in exchange for blowjobs? Man, if that's not an incentive to avoid excessive refactoring, I don't know what is!

Best wishes,
Nina in Mosow

Users - Dev (1)

jerryatrix (984426) | more than 6 years ago | (#23374016)

The open source projects that I have contributed to, have all been projects that I needed to use, but lacked some feature I needed. So I wrote some code and posted it back. Some projects though were just too hard to get started on for what I needed to do. Simple information about what is needed to get the dev. environment setup (libraries , versions, IDE) etc as well as decent user and developer documentation is really important. The idea previously posted about having a plugins framework, or at least a tutorial on how to add a simple feature, is relevant.

My guess here is that the number of people who will join your project is in direct proportion to
the number of users who are developers X the quality and quantity of your project documentation.

If you are serious about getting developers, I would ease off the coding, and get stuck into documentation/diagrams, putting up a wiki and a forum.

Thats my 2c worth

Leverage the power of the Tubes (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23374144)

... Specifically youtube. Use the time tested practice of PETA, strip to protect free software and post the video on youtube. I hope you are a she ....

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23374292)

How about...

Quit whining?

You started something. You made it FOSS. If you don't get other people to help you, you have plenty of choices. If YOU decide to carry on with the project solo, then that is the bed YOU made.

Sleep in it.
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