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Open Source Projects For Beginners

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the just-starting-out dept.

Open Source 212

itwbennett writes "Whoever said 'everyone has to start somewhere' has clearly never tried contributing to an open source project — the Linux Kernel development team in particular is known for its savagery. But if you're determined to donate your time and talents, there are some things you can do to get off on the right foot. Of course you should pick something you're interested in and that you use. Check, and double check. You should also research the project, learn about the process for contributing, and do your utmost to avoid asking questions that you can find the answers to. But beyond that there are some hallmarks of beginner-friendly open source projects like Drupal, Python, and LibreOffice — namely, a friendly and active community, training and mentorship programs, and a low barrier to entry."

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I cringe whenever I see this name (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43772639)

Whenever I read the name LibreOffice I say "Die already."

Re:I cringe whenever I see this name (1, Funny)

gatkinso (15975) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772665)

I get hungry for Nachos.

Re:I cringe whenever I see this name (1, Funny)

datavirtue (1104259) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772669)

I always picture the slap-fight scene in Nacho Libre. Forever damaged.

Re: I cringe whenever I see this name (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43772865)

"Did you no tell them they were the Lard's Chips?"

....as I frolic in placenta! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43772661)


 

All projects need your help. (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772733)

Beginners and non programmers can even help. 99.99786% of all OSS projects desperately need help with documentation. IF you want to start somewhere, start there.

Re:All projects need your help. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43772791)

Sadly, most OSS projects need technical writers and designers more than they need more programmers. But many of them only let in programmers, most of whom can't write or design worth a shit (and would consider it beneath them even if they could). And most technical writers and designers who do try to sign up get turned off pretty fast by being treated like shit by arrogant programmers.

Re:All projects need your help. (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772907)

And most technical writers and designers who do try to sign up get turned off pretty fast by being treated like shit by arrogant programmers.

It takes programmers being convinced that a program needs proper documentation for it to get it. Then the programmers will hopefully write bad but correct documentation, and then someone else can bash them into useful docs. Unfortunately, the prevailing situation with most FOSS projects with no (or effectively no) documentation is that a non-programmer cannot write the documentation, because only a programmer can understand what it should say, by reading the code. And if the code is confusing (I will avoid using the term "crap" here, though I very much want to use it) as it so often is, then it can be horribly difficult to figure out what it actually does even if one is a programmer.

Programmers need to take documentation into account early in the process, not as an afterthought. If you can't write at least useful documentation, then you're lacking. It doesn't need to be good, someone else can massage it. It does need to be correct and you do need to make time for it.

Re:All projects need your help. (3, Interesting)

uncqual (836337) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773069)

Indeed. Looking at the code and fully understanding the logic as a basis creating documentation is insufficient in many cases without quite a bit of help from "programmers". Unfortunately, in most projects (both commercial and FOSS), there are many bugs "implemented".

With the dearth of requirements and consistent and coherent design documents and useful code comments, in many projects too often the only way to determine if it's a bug, a feature (perhaps some corner of legacy crap left in intentionally for a handful of users which has never been deprecated), an 'undocumented behavior' that "doesn't matter" is to "ask the expert". If a project has one "expert" who can overrule all others and who engages in resolution of detailed discrepancies, this can work well. If, however, the project is "consensus based", every "expert" can support a different resolution leaving the well meaning documentation writer in the cold. (And I'm ignoring those FOSS projects where there are multiple commercial competing consultancies who are trying to be "top dog" and childishly jump on a situation like this to use as a pawn or a springboard for largely unrelated conflicts - I'm sure this problem resonates some readers here!).

Re:All projects need your help. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773125)

Used to be that one coded to documentation, not the other way around. I see it's been watered down to code to unit tests these days. Which sadly dont get done much either.

Re:All projects need your help. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773331)

Used to be that one coded to documentation, not the other way around. I see it's been watered down to code to unit tests these days. Which sadly dont get done much either.

95%.. no make it 99% of unit tests just test that the code goes through without crashing. Proving nothing about the code actually working through when linked together and proving even less that the code would do what the customer wanted! So essentially they end up being just as useful as checking that it compiles!

Part of the problem is that it's impossible to write good unit tests before you know what the code must do and you only know that after you have written the code since you had no specifications of any kind to begin with and the wishes of whoever was paying for the project are always in constant flux. However since unit tests were a necessity they are written after the code is otherwise ready.

Kind of hard to write to documentation before coding when there is no roadmap about what the software is even meant to do! What this means is that the software isn't written to fill a need but quite oppositely made to trap human interest.

Re:All projects need your help. (1)

D1G1T (1136467) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773269)

a non-programmer cannot write the documentation, because only a programmer can understand what it should say, by reading the code.

I think the head post was talking about end-user docs not code documentation. You hardly need the original programmer to start the Users' Guide.

Re:All projects need your help. (3, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773277)

non programmer who knows how to use the program CAN write documentation about how to use the program.
many, many guides on the net are done this way and they tend to be helpful. sometimes the author just got there by experimenting how the software ACTUALLY works.

sometimes, if the documentation is by the coder it's just wishful thinking about how he hopes the sw would work - or worse yet the documentation is just an advertisement and blatantly ignores the limits of the software, whereas a trial-by-fire written documentation usually shows what you can actually do with the sw, what works and what will cause a crash. many guides about how to get some game running for example have been written with no source access at all, yet they cover unplanned(buggy) behavior of the program..

Re:All projects need your help. (1, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772917)

Sadly, most OSS projects need technical writers and designers more than they need more programmers. But many of them only let in programmers, most of whom can't write or design worth a shit (and would consider it beneath them even if they could). And most technical writers and designers who do try to sign up get turned off pretty fast by being treated like shit by arrogant programmers.

Absolutely. The OSS projects that are applications could certainly do with UX designers, but the chances of programmers listening to a UX designer saying that stuff should be removed from the interface are slim. Look at the backlash Ubuntu got from coders for bringing their desktop into the 21st century.

Re:All projects need your help. (2, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772959)

If "UX" means "turning a computer into a fucking cell phone," as implied by your delirious shout-out to Unity, then I think there are already more than enough of those unholy bastards infecting OSS already, tyvm.

Re:All projects need your help. (5, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773119)

Thanks for demonstrating my point so well.

This is why Linux never succeeded on the desktop. But when an entirely commercial organisation took on designing a Linux user interface - Android - with programmers implementing designs from UX experts, suddenly it's successful.

Re:All projects need your help. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773181)

Android is successful on mobile phones, not on desktops. Microsoft also tried to bring a mobile interface to the desktop with Windows 8, and it's an utter fiasco.

Re:All projects need your help. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773329)

Mainstream GNU/Linux succeeded with technical people.

Android/Linux succeeded with non-technical people.

Your mistake is assuming the technical people involved in GNU/Linux give a flying fuck whether it succeeds with non-technical people -- some do, but most don't. And unless you've got string feelings about open-source software, if you do care about success with non-technical people, OS X is the obvious choice.

Re:All projects need your help. (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773043)

You mean crippling it?

Not everything needs to be dombed down that far. If the 21st century is I can only use one application at a time and the mouse is the primary input device, then I will stick with the 20th century.

Re:All projects need your help. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773081)

Making user interfaces more intuitive is a noble goal... But... This goal should never compromise the software's functionality or efficiency. Function over Form should be a core value. Under no circumstance should useful functionality or efficiency shortcuts be removed for the sole reason that a UX designer did not know where to put/hide it.

This is what is wrong with the recent trends trying to transform our powerful general purpose computers and software into idiot-proof appliances. UX designers can be very valuable to software development, but their values and ideas need to be adequately balanced with those of the users who need to get work done efficiently and the developers who need to implement it.

Re:All projects need your help. (4, Insightful)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773445)

Having an intuitive UI is related to your audience. If you have software that is specialized for a group that is willing to take a longer time to learn it, presumably for some specific reason, you can make it fairly complex.

If you are trying to drive adoption by those who are less sure about what they want, an interface that starts simple but can be extended or given more functionality is not only nice, it is often the difference between your functionality being used... or not. Designing a good interface improves efficiency because it saves time, not only in a good workflow sense, but also in the sense that it does not require a significant commitment to learn. If you want to showcase a new function, you do not want your interface getting in the way of demonstrating it.

I cannot count the number of apps where I download it for one specific reason, and I'm supposed to be awed by all the wonderful flexibility that the interface doesn't hide from me. Instead, I'm disgusted that I have to do some stupid non-intuitive chain of actions just because no one actually handed the app to someone who had never used it before and took notes.

Outside of a professional tool in the hands of a specialist, it is rare that you use most of the functionality of an application. You do certain things repetitively, and then, if necessary, you use other functions as needed. Those "as needed" functions do NOT belong in a place where they occlude or even sit alongside the repetitive functions.

If there is anything that these minimizing UX designers do get right, it is the fact that you aren't going to need a screen full of options that you only rarely use, and so you don't need to waste the effort of browsing them. Programmers, understandably, want the work they have done to be showcased, but what is right for a programmer's pride is not always right for an end user. You may well have designed an elegant new way of doing something, but if the use cases for it are limited, it shouldn't be presented center-stage (unless a user elects to do so via preferences).

Re:All projects need your help. (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772899)

The problem with Open Source Software is the intense focus on the freaking source code. But for most software projects Coding source code is only 40% of the work. There is a lot of work going in Architecting, Designing, Documentation, that goes on as well. For most project they have the Coder do all the work, that is why they write a few dozen lines of code a day because they are busy doing the other stuff.

RMS may not have gone insane if the printer manufacturer just released better documentation of the specs for the printer. To allow him do what he needed to do without the source.

Re:All projects need your help. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772961)

My mod points just ran out or you'd have had a (+1, Insightful) for that.

As you say, the major difference between most successful FOSS projects and most successful CCSS ones probably isn't the programming, it's everything else. It's the vision and creativity and market research. It's the willingness and ability to commit entire teams for weeks in a row to completely rewrite an area of the UI that wasn't working quite as well as it could. It's spending time and money to implement tedious file conversion code and license relevant technologies, because people in the real world need to use the de facto standard proprietary formats, even if they are patent-encumbered. It's hiring a team of technical writers and illustrators to produce a user-friendly help system that actually does help. It's spending a small fortune running observation tests with actual users to find the most important problems, and then fixing those first. In short, it's having leadership/management who are user-focussed and able to direct their resources objectively to where they will make the most difference to those users.

Re:All projects need your help. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773641)

...It's hiring a team of technical writers and illustrators to produce a user-friendly help system that actually does help. It's spending a small fortune running observation tests with actual users to find the most important problems, and then fixing those first. In short, it's having leadership/management who are user-focussed and able to direct their resources objectively to where they will make the most difference to those users.

Please provide a link as I wish to use this helpful software

It's my party and no one else is invited (5, Interesting)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772757)

the Linux Kernel development team in particular is known for its savagery

I've found that the "It's my party and no one else is invited" syndrome permeates all too many OSS projects. Finally stopped offering to help after encountering one too many projects that act like the snobby fraternity from a bad 80's movie. Now I do my own stuff and forgo the projects that have already started.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (4, Interesting)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772853)

I've found that the "It's my party and no one else is invited" syndrome permeates all too many OSS projects.

Pics or it didn't happen.

In other words, I've hear this a lot on the internet, but I've never seen it myself despite having contributed to numerous open projects. I expect that there are assholes out there running projects, but there are also plenty of assholes who wish to contribute as well.

I've even exchanged emails with Theo De Raadt himself and wasn't flamed. Actually, he was polite and helpful.

Finally stopped offering to help after encountering one too many projects that act like the snobby fraternity from a bad 80's movie.

I've never encountered a single project like that. However, I have encountered plenty of projects that don't want a large undocumented buggy code blob dumped on top of them, which internally partially reimplements a bunch of existing features badly.

I've been on all sides of this. I've been told that my code wasn't good enough, and needs to be fixed before being accepted. In some cases it was buggy, in others it wasn't in the house style. The latter sounds trivial, but if everyone invents their own way of doing the same thing, then the code gets to be an unmaintainable mess.

I've also been on the other end, telling people that their (sometimes) large contributions aren't up to snuff. Sometimes people take it well, but some people are simply incapable of taking criticism of their precious code.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772873)

Pics or it didn't happen. In other words, I've hear this a lot on the internet

Me too. And I've seen the nasty emails from Torvalds. Those are what you need, not pics.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772987)

Me too. And I've seen the nasty emails from Torvalds. Those are what you need, not pics.

So, where are the emails of Torvalds flaming TWiTfan? He claimed he was personally put off. And you reply as evidence that some completely unrelated random person was flamed by someone else entirely.

Righty ho.

Adding to that, he has a tendency to swear at other senior people who he thinks are making a mess. This is also very different from putting off beginners which is what this entire thread is about.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773039)

So, where are the emails of Torvalds flaming TWiTfan? He claimed he was personally put off. And you reply as evidence that some completely unrelated random person was flamed by someone else entirely.

So what you are saying is while there's ample evidence of it happening to others, you're just calling TWiTfan a liar because you don't believe it happened to him.

I think you just became your own example.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773083)

So what you are saying is while there's ample evidence of it happening to others, you're just calling TWiTfan a liar because you don't believe it happened to him.

So, I should just believe him outright about all these projects are behaving like 80's fraternities and he's done nothing to annoy them? That's not calling him a liar (though I am now calling you a fool for drawing such a comparison), I'm simply implying that his version of events is quite probably biased.

And yeah, I have seen lots of examples and they highlight several things. Firstly that context is missing and secondly that many people think it isn't the height of rudeness to waste the time of some of the best programmers in the world while simultaneously expecting an ego boost.

So yeah, I have interacted with many OSS developers even notoriously flamy ones and never been flamed. Because I am polite, respectful and cricually I treat their time as more important than my own, because to them it is.

And I've also seen many flames.

So yeah, I'm not going to believe that Mr Innocent wandered into an 80's frat and got flamed to death just like that.

So what you are saying is while there's ample evidence

Like what? Even with the notorious Linux ones there are reasonas why it's started and it's not just some random old boys 80's frat environment like th OP claimed.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773239)

So yeah, I have interacted with many OSS developers even notoriously flamy ones and never been flamed. Because I am polite, respectful and cricually I treat their time as more important than my own, because to them it is.

And I've also seen many flames.

What's clearly coming across here is that you're an established frat-boy who knows the arcane rules and implied hierarchy already, and denies that hazing happens, whist admitting that it does happen to those that deserve it. After all, they must deserve it, otherwise they wouldn't be hazed.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (0)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773317)

Yay, I'm a frat boy.

Now I get to flame you: you're intentionally being disengenuous.

You very well know that flaming and hazing of newbies are completely different activities. You also very well know that flaming of people being idiots is entirely reasonable (you're being pretty rude to me now, for example).

But I'm not new here, and therefore I'm not going to make foolish claims that you're flaming n00bs on slashdot.

Now please either shut up or provide evidence of this flaming n00bs frat boy boys club behaviour.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773355)

But you are a KNOWN Linux zealot, asshole, and troll who usually flames people who "disrespect X" or promote alternatives like Wayland. You will twist, spin, misdirect, deceive, and outright LIE to defend Linux or anything else that's important to you.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773497)

But no matter how many people tell you they were badly treated by an OSS project, you're going to call them liars. Insisting that they give up their slashdot anonymity to give you examples

And why? Because you are one of the established OSS people that does the abuse of newcomers. And you're doing it again right here.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773563)

But no matter how many people tell you they were badly treated by an OSS project, you're going to call them liars.

No, I'm happy to tell them that their feelings on the matter do not adequately represent reality as far as I am concerned. You're the one who keeps bringing up the term "liar", not me.

Insisting that they give up their slashdot anonymity to give you examples

I've been told by people like you that examples abound and are easy to find. Find one not involving you, then.

And why? Because you are one of the established OSS people that does the abuse of newcomers. And you're doing it again right here.

You're such a n00b with your ID almost identical to mine. You've only been here 10 years n00b.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773345)

Yeah, because being polite and considerate is obiviously as arcane as Elder Magick.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

Xest (935314) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773011)

...and I've certainly seen it with PHP, Firefox, and MySQL.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773151)

...and I've certainly seen it with PHP, Firefox, and MySQL.

Really?

So you've seen examples of this exact atitude:

I've found that the "It's my party and no one else is invited" syndrome permeates all too many OSS projects. Finally stopped offering to help after encountering one too many projects that act like the snobby fraternity from a bad 80's movie.

Allow me to restate: pics or it didn't happen.

IOW provide links or I'm not going to believe it, since I won't be able to see enough context to judge for myself.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773303)

Do you actually spend much time on 4chan, or are you just aspiring to be that kind of jackass?

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773341)

Do you actually spend much time on 4chan, or are you just aspiring to be that kind of jackass?

Is 4chan the kind of place where people require some kind of evidence before believing random people on the internet making unsubstantiated claims?

Does this mean that you're now part of the "it's my party" frat boy network because you're flaming me (your claim, not mine).

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773459)

Is 4chan the kind of place where people require some kind of evidence before believing random people on the internet making unsubstantiated claims?

No, its the kind of place where trolls say "pics or it didn't happen" then other trolls create a composite in photoshop. I don't know if they invented the phrase, but they certainly popularised it. Presumably you've never heard of goatse or GNAA and are unaware of where they originated. Guess.

Obviously NSFW, and not recommended at any other time either. Sticking hot knives in your eyes would be a preferable activity.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773583)

No, its the kind of place where trolls say "pics or it didn't happen" then other trolls create a composite in photoshop. I don't know if they invented the phrase, but they certainly popularised it. Presumably you've never heard of goatse or GNAA and are unaware of where they originated. Guess.

Good to see you can answer a rhetorical question.

"Pics or it didn't happen" is meme-ese for "I'm not going to believe you without evidence". IOW [citation needed]

I mean FFS, if there's so much evidence of such vile behaviour then find some and show me. It can't be that hard if it's as common as you claim.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773519)

get over yourselves, you are both bad people can we just agree to that and leave it alone

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

Xest (935314) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773397)

That's okay, you don't have to believe it, I could frankly care less what you want to believe. What you believe is really of no consequence to me. However, the fact a few people have pointed it out individually (Basil Brush has me as a foe by the way, because we rarely agree on anything so I didn't exactly make the post I did in a show of brotherly kinship or something) should give you a hint that just because you refuse to believe it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. I really have better things to do than spend hours scouring for old posts which I can barely even remember the month it happened let alone the day, but it doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

Frankly though this attitude of yours highlights the problem to a degree - the people who have posted about it you've jumped on and tried to suppress the idea with "pics or it didn't happen" - the fact there are people like you who will refuse to acknowledge fault in their beloved clique is exactly why such fault in their beloved clique exists in the first place, because any asshole in the clique can be an asshole and they know they can count on people like you to flock to their defence, even when they're in the wrong. It's this sort of zealotry that enables the problem to exist.

I noticed in another post you mentioned you'd never seen that attitude towards beginners, but it's not simply about beginners, in fact, on the contrary in the examples I cited, what we had were experienced developers (outside of FOSS) offering suggestions or asking questions and being belittled over it with the net result being that, particularly in the PHP example that comes to mind, you had someone who clearly knew what they were on about being attacked by a bunch of devs that didn't, but because said devs were the oh-so-great (Hah!) developers of PHP and the other guy was some nameless person they were obviously correct and this highlights the sort of issue you've quoted, you get these cliques who assume they're the best in their fields, and when someone comes along who apparently knows better than them they get shot down because the clique can't deal with accepting honest well phrased constructive criticism and offers of help to fix said issues from someone outside the clique. It's too much of a dent to their overblown egos.

You most definitely see the issue with UX suggestions too (though I wont pretend it's a FOSS specific issue), there's often massive hostility from programmers to being told by artsy types how they should design parts of their application. I've even some outright say the UX should be kept complicated to keep "noobs" away from Linux and such, but how do you balance that with the same folks also wanting Linux to kill Windows and take over the desktop? They can't have it both ways.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (0)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773529)

Frankly though this attitude of yours highlights the problem to a degree - the people who have posted about it you've jumped on and tried to suppress the idea with "pics or it didn't happen" - the fact there are people like you who will refuse to acknowledge fault in their beloved clique is exactly why such fault in their beloved clique exists in the first place, because any asshole in the clique can be an asshole and they know they can count on people like you to flock to their defence, even when they're in the wrong. It's this sort of zealotry that enables the problem to exist.

There are certainly faults, and I'm happy to identify them when they occur. The thing is one has to know where the fault lies. A lot of grief is caused by the out of project people acting badly as well, and when the project people get sufficiently annoyed, they get blamed.

Not to say there aren't "personalities" on both sides: there are and that's the problem. One story from a random person on slashdot merely informs me that at least one of the two people involved was unreasonable.

What you are advocating is that I go jumping all over the OSS community trying to bust cliques that I have no evidence for! That sort of thing is really bound to upset the original developers and would deservedly catch me many, many flames.

particularly in the PHP example that comes to mind, you had someone who clearly knew what they were on about being attacked by a bunch of devs that didn't, but because said devs were the oh-so-great (Hah!) developers of PHP

Yeah well OK, PHP is such a massive clusterfuck that I can well believe that the developers are permenantly on glue and would happily flame away. OK, I am being unfair there.

The thing is with a big project like that many of the suggestions are along the lines of "X sucks". A reply is often along the lines of (a) no it doesn't and it's been discussed at length before or (b) yes it does but we can't change it and it's been discussed at length before.

Not claiming that what you've seen is that, but that is not uncommon. I've seeen it lots. The poster could have read the FAQ or pervious forum posts, rather than necromancer a topic which has been hashed over repeatedly. I do not think it is too much to ask people to make some attempt to familiarise themselves with things before posting about them.

You most definitely see the issue with UX suggestions too (though I wont pretend it's a FOSS specific issue), there's often massive hostility from programmers to being told by artsy types how they should design parts of their application.

Oh yes, there certainly is. The trouble is that half of the suggestions (ex GIMP) are "make it work like photoshop". The trouble is that many of the non-artsy people developing and using it haven't used photoshop, so merely having familiarity of that interface is of no benefit. In fact changing it would simply slow them all down. Also, the whole MDI thing was because the GIMP developers were all using sensible window managers and were being repeatedly asked to correct flaws in someone else's software. The sensible solution was of course either to stop using bad window managers, or complain to the makers of those.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (4, Interesting)

jlechem (613317) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772911)

Notepad++, the linunx kernel, I've seen some others.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43772993)

FIlezilla.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (0, Troll)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773001)

Notepad++, the linunx kernel, I've seen some others.

Really? You've seen TWiTfan been flamed off contributing to both Notepad++ and the Linux kernel? Interesting...

Being less facetious, I have no idea about Notepad++ (I use vim), and I've seen planty of flames from Torvalds towards well established kernel developers and people who like C++, but beginner?

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773407)

Really? You've seen TWiTfan been flamed off contributing to both Notepad++ and the Linux kernel? Interesting...

oh my god..... what a miserable, pathetic, troll. grow up, mate.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (2)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773037)

Actually Notepad++ could use some simple GUI standardizing. For some reason the Help menu is "?", then there is an odd "MISC." tab in the Settings dialog and the centered "Close" button there too. The name of an untitled document is "new1" (with two spaces). Also the editor widget (Scintilla) does not honor Windows cursor blink rate preference. Purely aesthetic things, but these could all be fixed quite easily to make the application look more professional. Otherwise it's a nice text editor.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773417)

It draws fucking menus wrong. So does Audacity, BTW.

I need to find out where they got their UI widgets and slap whoever provided them... drop down menus aren't goddamned hard, they've been perfected for 30 years at this point.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (2)

jlechem (613317) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773677)

I still use it but I've submitted many bugs and feature requests since version 5.X something and they're still not fixed. I offered to fix them since I've been doing win32/MFC for 15 years and nothing. If it weren't so mature already I'd ditch it in a heartbeat.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773243)

I have actually worked with dozens of open source projects. Most of them are happy to get help. There was one project that just told me to get lost. A few projects so inactive that there was no reply. A few who said "thanks, but no thanks", because the suggested changes were either not in line with their goals or considered so irrelevant that it was not worth doing the modifications.

So I would say that if you try to contribute into two projects and get bad experience from both, you are really unlucky fellow.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773553)

In other words, I've hear this a lot on the internet, but I've never seen it myself despite having contributed to numerous open projects. I expect that there are assholes out there running projects, but there are also plenty of assholes who wish to contribute as well.

I hear the same thing about trying to get help with Linux as a user, but I've never experienced that, either, no matter what forum. I think you hit the nail on the head with "plenty of assholes who wish to contribute."

Closed source people are used to being able to be rude to tech support and are usually pissed off when they call. That's not how the open source world works. In the open source world, a "Hello, sorry but I'm new at this but I'm stumped, could you please tell me how to..." will, in my experience, almost always result in your problem being solved. In the closed source world that's likely to to get your problem ignored until they get the asshole on the other line off their backs.

In the open source world, "This app is fucking garbage, how can I get this piece of shit to..." will get you ignored or flamed. If you want my help and you're not paying me for it, you're an idiot to expect me to help you if you're going to abuse me.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772857)

Better still, use your programming talents to get a programming job you enjoy. Not only will they treat you more politely than an OSS project, they'll pay you.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772971)

And for those of us living in the real world?

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773047)

You think there aren't enjoyable programming jobs in the real world?

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773549)

You think your campus and/or Moms basement is the real world?

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773009)

Better still, use your programming talents to get a programming job you enjoy. Not only will they treat you more politely than an OSS project, they'll pay you.

It's a well known fact that the kernel developers employed by the likes of Redhat and IBM don't get paid. In fact it's a wonder they even have offices at all. Why not just stay in their parents basement, eh?

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773065)

Chances of you landing a paid OSS job without first putting in years of unpaid work on the project. Pretty small. And in order to get those years, you've first got to get past the beginner hazing that TWiTfan was referring to.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773107)

Chances of you landing a paid OSS job without first putting in years of unpaid work on the project.

Aaah so there are no TRUE scotsmen^Wpaid OSS developer jobs.

And in order to get those years, you've first got to get past the beginner hazing that TWiTfan was referring to.

That beginner hazing simply does not exist. You keep claiming it does. Put up or shut up: i.e. either back up you claims of this "it's my party"/hazing attitude or quit making stuff up.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773251)

Aaah so there are no TRUE scotsmen^Wpaid OSS developer jobs.

Your problem there is that I never said there are no paid OSS developer jobs. So not my no true Scotsman, but your strawman.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773333)

And I quote from you:

BasilBrush: Not only will they treat you more politely than an OSS project, they'll pay you.

You're claim that OSS projects won't pay you. I provided a couple of counter examples. You replied "aaah but they must have done a lot of unpaid work before that", something which indidentally you have no evidence for.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773681)

BasilBrush: Not only will they treat you more politely than an OSS project, they'll pay you.

You're claim that OSS projects won't pay you.

English comprehension and logic aren't your strong points then. My sentence points out that a job will pay you. Implicit is that they'll pay you from day one. It doesn't say that there are no paid jobs that are doing OSS projects.

The fact is this is about newcomers to an OSS project being treated badly by those in the clique. Those in the clique might have paid jobs doing the OOS project. Those who are new would take years to get there, but more likely never will. The vast majority doing this stuff being unpaid. Those that are, mostly got in to the project early. And they aren't going to step aside to make room. Anyone going in to OSS thinking they're going to be paid eventually might just as well join a Ponzi scheme.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773735)

My sentence points out that a job will pay you. Implicit is that they'll pay you from day one.

You also implicitly point out that won't happen with OSS jobs. If you get employed by IBM, ARM, RedHat, heck even Oracle's open teams they will pay you from day 1 to work on open projects.

That's the way a job works. You do it, they pay you.

You are trying to insinuate that this is not the case with OSS jobs. That is not true.

Those that are, mostly got in to the project early.

ARM hires new people all the time to work on Linux stuff.

Anyone going in to OSS thinking they're going to be paid eventually

WTF does that even mean? "going into OSS"?

If you take a job in OSS you will get paid, it's sort of the definition of a job. If you do it in your spare time, you won't. That's kinda the definition of spare time.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

internerdj (1319281) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773687)

I sat in a cube with an intern early in my career. He would stay up all night contributing to Asterisk. He apparently did well enough contributing to make good friends with Mark Spencer. He ended up showing up later and later to work and was eventually fired for his unprofessionalism. He was hired at Digium almost immediately. I'm not sure how long it lasted but there are some jobs out there working OSS development and there are OSS contribution paths to get there.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43772881)

don't forget about the outright contempt and hatred for anything newbie. Pile the vitriol on the newbie who "asks a question he can find the answer to". Make them figure it all out for themselves and then berate them when the interwebs gives them the wrong answer.

God forbid one of you gurus actually mentor a newbie instead of grinding them under your heel.

Oh, and don't forget to make your code as undocumented, complex and unintelligible as possible using all the latest cool technologies that you just stayed up until 4am force feeding yourself -- while the rest of us have families. Just so you can lord over us all with your MAD skillz and treat us like crap when we don't understand it immediately.

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" -- I think somebody smart said that.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773055)

The problem I have is usually just getting a response from developers/maintainers. Several times I've posted fixes for something or submitted patches for bugs which are simply ignored. I've probably contacted over a dozen open source projects in the past six years and offered to help with patches, documentation, taking over un-maintained branches of code and simply been ignored. I think that's almost worse than angry e-mails because it's hard to tell if the developers are ignoring the newcomer because they don't want the help or because they are lazy.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (3, Interesting)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773379)

My issue is projects that ask for the public to submit bug reports. But when the public does, they get either:

1) Completely ignored for years on end (1)

2) A snide, "if you want it fixed, fix it yourself" response.

3) A snide, pass-the-buck response. "That's not our bug, that's a bug in Java, tell them to fix it."

It's irritating. I've learned to never bother putting in bug reports, even if the project asks for them.

(1) Not even triaged in the worst cases-- Chromium, I'm looking at you. I finally got someone to look at it after 2 weeks by grabbing an email address off the bug tracker and nagging them to do so. By that time it'd turned out some dev has stealthily fixed it without even consulting the bug database first, apparently.

(2) Why do these projects ask for bug reports from the public if they don't want them? Just put up a message that says, "hey we don't WANT you to put in bugs, either write code or go away" and at least they'd be honest with their users.

(3) Yeah, well Java hasn't fixed it in 15 years, and there's an easy workaround you could apply, but if you're ok having shitty software because Oracle doesn't give a crap, I'll just use something else.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (3, Interesting)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773627)

1) Completely ignored for years on end (1)

I agree with that one. I've had reported bugs go unanswered forever on some projects.

2) A snide, "if you want it fixed, fix it yourself" response.

I don't think I've ever seen that from a project which actually asks for bug reports. The only reports I've made in person have either been ignored or dealt with.

3) A snide, pass-the-buck response. "That's not our bug, that's a bug in Java, tell them to fix it."

You know sometimes there are bugs in other projects. Example: your program segfaults with this AVI. After investigation, so does anything built with FFMPEG, indicating it might be a problem with FFMPEG

If that happens you'll get a pass the buck response probably because hardly anyone knows enough about the internals of FFMPEG to go about fixing that bug.

In such cases, what would you have the author of the software do?

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773423)

> I've found that the "It's my party and no one else is invited" syndrome permeates all too many OSS projects.

In contradistinction to closed source where you can't even fix bugs even if you wanted to?
And where they often don't provide any way to contact the team about bugs in the code, documentation, samples, etc.? /sarcasm Yeah, OSS sure has it "bad".

Now, _some_ OSS projects may have assholes, but at least I can read the source. The flaming "poster" boys Theo de Raadt and Linus Torvalds may _appear_ like jerks but I would rather they stand for something then fall for anything. At least they can _justify_ their opinions. There is nothing wrong with a healthy flame to get to the heart of the issue and put them ALL on the table.

The BIGGEST problem with OSS is lazy developers who can't even provide a fucking README.TO.COMPILE.TXT -- /me glares at you ZFSonLinux (fortunately it was easy enough to compile) ... There are many OSS projects that are too fucking complicated to even COMPILE. If I have to jump through hoops just to even compile the code I'm not going to waste my time trying to figure it out.

Re:It's my party and no one else is invited (2)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773449)

the Linux Kernel development team in particular is known for its savagery

Considering the 1. high level of complexity and 2. high quality level of the Linux kernel, please keep him out of the regular OSS projects.
When the GIMP or LibreOffice bug (they do that often), I'm just annoyed. The Linux kernel OTOH cannot afford to bear a botched or newbie-made module.

Obligatory (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43772761)

Newbie: Hi! I have a set of ideas for improving the Linux memory manager which I've laid out in this mail.

Linus: #k$^!@s!!

Ulrich: ^$#&!&*!!!!!

Newbie: Wait a minute. I thought this was the place for kernel discussions.

Linus: Oh sorry.... this is abuse.

Yes, Obama Was Lying (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43772793)

White House Official: Yes, Obama Was Lying When He Claimed He Found Out About His IRS Scandal From the Media

How about contribute to something you can add valu (3, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772805)

How about contribute to something you can add value to? like, not treating it like contributing just something to just any project has absolute value that you can then put on your CV.

So look at software you use - fix some bugs that annoy you and contribute fixes or create new features that you would find useful in the software. that's how almost all successful small open source projects operate. which is pretty much how the example guy on the article went about it. contributing to software you don't use is going to be a mess.

if you have a truly novel fix or improvement to the linux kernel, you could always present it at as well. that's contributing even if you don't get your commit in, if it's a good solution to some known problem then people will take notice. because if you feel like that your changes wouldn't be appreciated, you could always just release a fork.

just answering questions on stackoverflow etc can greatly help some projects too.

The Kernel community isn't as bad as you think (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43772831)

My fist ever contribution to an open source project was a silly little patch for the Kernel. While there was some initial indifference on the mailing list, I received actionable feedback. I iterated a couple of times, times, fixed issues that were called out and got my pulled in. All without any 'savage' name calling, flaming or . True, there are more than a few grumpy Kernel hackers, just are also loads of folks willing to help out newbies. You know, like in ANY opensource project. Hell, there's a website and a mailing list just for newbies! I really don't understand why Linux gets so much hate. Especially considering that it is the LARGEST, most successful open source project ever?

Re:The Kernel community isn't as bad as you think (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772935)

I really don't understand why Linux gets so much hate. Especially considering that it is the LARGEST, most successful open source project ever?

I think it is because Linus himself has a reputation [attendly.com] . As you say though, on a large project there must be plenty of helpful people too.

Mozilla (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43772855)

Mozilla offers a lot of help to those who wish to contribute. I was quite pleasantly surprised with how smooth the process for contributing to firefox was.

Github makes it easy. (5, Informative)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772903)

1) Get a github account.
2a) Submit a bug.
2b) Request a new feature.
2c) Fix a bug.
2d) Research and comment on an open issue.
2e) Add a new feature.
2f) Fix typos in documentation.
2g) Add documentation.
2h) Add a translation for your own language.
2i) Add a new theme/template.
2j) Make the project page nicer to look at.
2k) Thank the authors.
2l) ???
3) Profit!

Getting involved starts simply with making "first contact".
Any half-decent project team will gracefully accept anything you have to offer and pretty soon you'll find you have quite a lot to offer.

Like space games? (3, Informative)

Smivs (1197859) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772905)

Try Oolite [oolite.org] . A free, cross-platform space game based on the classic Elite. Dead easy to get into and a great community behind it.

Re:Like space games? (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773369)

Is that not finished yet? It only took two people a couple of years to write the original.

Re:Like space games? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773457)

It works fine, but it makes no real improvements over the original in terms of the game itself. Primitive economy etc etc. It could use a boost.

Re:Like space games? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773723)

It works fine, but it makes no real improvements over the original in terms of the game itself. Primitive economy etc etc. It could use a boost.

but in that case you could just go with something else than oolite. I wasn't aware that it aspired to be anything else than elite.

there's some weird elite projects out there, like for ffe a project that took the original executables, tore them apart and added opengl graphics. not exactly open source but cool as hell.

Re:Like space games? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773791)

but in that case you could just go with something else than oolite. I wasn't aware that it aspired to be anything else than elite.

But then, why not just play elite? I mean, it's around, you don't have to pay for it, why not play elite?

If anyone is aware of an elite-like game with a true functional economy where actions have consequences, I'd really like to play it. But I want it to be a single-player game, because I so often have marginal internet access, and I don't want to pay a monthly fee. That leaves out Eve.

Since no one reads articles (4, Insightful)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772909)

Everyone will post their 2 cents worth, recreating the article in a hodge-podge way.

Game tip (2)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#43772913)

I heard that FreeRCT is in need [blogspot.com] for both programmers and graphic artists. Their goal is to create an open game in the spirit of Rollercoaster Tycoon 1 & 2.

Re:Game tip (1)

geek (5680) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773757)

I heard that FreeRCT is in need [blogspot.com] for both programmers and graphic artists. Their goal is to create an open game in the spirit of Rollercoaster Tycoon 1 & 2.

I actually thought about contributing until I saw "C++" in their requirements. :)

OpenHatch (4, Informative)

BrianShannon (2927799) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773013)

OpenHatch is a non-profit dedicated to matching prospective free software contributors with communities, tools, and education.

http://openhatch.org/ [openhatch.org]

Very useful for beginners.
http://openhatch.org/search/?q=&toughness=bitesize [openhatch.org]
http://openhatch.org/search/?q=&contribution_type=documentation&toughness=bitesize [openhatch.org]

Wine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773091)

I was pretty big into fixing bugs and hacking Wine until I got turned off by a Codeweavers dev who refused to help with a bug that I had patched. His code was an admitted "hack" that made some other software work for him but breaks mine. I gave up on it shortly after that. It's also why I refuse to buy Crossover.

wrong points (4, Insightful)

Tom (822) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773101)

Uh, this one is really simple.

Don't start at the kernel, idiot.
Don't start at a compiler or programming language or other system part, fool.

Start with an application. In fact, if you need to get that explained, you should start with a good book.

The kernel and compiler, etc. people ought to be hostile to newbies. Their goal is not to teach newbies, it's to deliver reliable code. You don't start learning to fly with a Boing 747 full of passengers, you start with a simulator or a Cessna.

Your first contributions shouldn't be in anything that other (applications) rely on. It should be in an application. Something where if it fails only that thing fails and not everything that depends on it. You'll find that the maintainers of these applications are more forgiving, simply because the burden on them is a lot less.

And yes, I say that as someone who has contributed to bunches of projects.

Re:wrong points (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773169)

"And yes, I say that as someone who has contributed to bunches of projects".

Like we didn't already know that from the tone of your comment. It does, though, go a long way toward explaining the overwhelming success of the Linux-based desktop environment.

Re:wrong points (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773265)

It does, though, go a long way toward explaining the overwhelming success of the Linux-based desktop environment.

Because the more successful ones let n00bs contribute code?

Re:wrong points (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773393)

Because the more successful ones let n00bs contribute code?

The more successful ones don't let programmers run the show. Good programmers tend to be awful managers.

Re:wrong points (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773719)

The more successful ones don't let programmers run the show.

Such as?

Re:wrong points (3, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773475)

Like we didn't already know that from the tone of your comment. It does, though, go a long way toward explaining the overwhelming success of the Linux-based desktop environment.

It does, though, go a long way toward explaining the excellent utility and stability of the Linux kernel.

Not everyone shares your goals. I want stability more than shinies.

You can get a minor kernel patch in without a lot of experience, as others in this thread have done. A major kernel patch should come with a lot of scrutiny.

Re:wrong points (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773649)

The article isn't complaining about people being hostile to newbies, it's written to try to warn newbies and steer them towards places where their contributions will be more welcome. Basically, the article has the same intended effect as your comment, but is written in a way that is actually effective. In contrast, your comment is very likely to turn off the intended audience on account of how obnoxious you are.

Re:wrong points (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773709)

You don't start learning to fly with a Boing 747 full of passengers, you start with a simulator or a Cessna.

Someone hasn't seen the new training standardisation from ICAO driven by air lines... cheaper to skip straight to the point? Then let's do it! Who needs hours right?

Deuces and Quickies (2)

morrison (40043) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773219)

The BRL-CAD project defines two levels of tasks geared towards new contributors. "Deuces" are small tasks expected to take less than 2 hours. "Quickies" take around 2 days:

http://brlcad.org/wiki/Deuces [brlcad.org]
http://brlcad.org/wiki/Quickies [brlcad.org]

The project even provides a virtual machine disk image that has everything set up and ready to go.

Re:Deuces and Quickies (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about a year and a half ago | (#43773437)

The project even provides a virtual machine disk image that has everything set up and ready to go.

That is a pretty sweet idea for lowering the barrier to entry more projects should do that. I have tried a few times to get a dev environment set up for one eclipse based project and it always turns into a giant mess shortly there after as the documentation is so out of date that setting things up to work with the current version of the software just fails.

I Won't Even Bother Filing Bug Reports Any More (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43773579)

After being savaged for filing perfectly valid and well-stated bug reports at three different OSS projects, I've given up ever providing reports to any of them. They take a bug report as a personal attack, and lash back at you; sometimes in an extremely pithy manner.

I run my own FOSS project, and have taken to heart the lessons that I've learned dealing with those brats.

As a result, I get plenty of help keeping my project at an almost unbelievable quality level. It often requires back-and-forth with the reporter, and, yes, they are often stunningly naive, and yes, sometimes, they start off rude, but responding in a measured, kind, understanding manner has had tremendous benefits.

Just my experience. YMMV.

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