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[libreplanet-discuss] Help Wanted Site for Free Software Projects

From: Nicolás A . Ortega
Subject: [libreplanet-discuss] Help Wanted Site for Free Software Projects
Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2017 12:15:08 +0200
User-agent: Mutt

I am unsure if this is the correct list to talk about this, but
considering the description it's what made most sense.

Recently on #gnu (freenode) someone joined the channel looking for
guidance. They were saying that they wanted to start contributing to a
Free Software project, but they were having difficulty thinking of where
to start. Of course, they were given the GNU Savannah 'Help Wanted'
page, and told that they should find a software that they currently use
that they would like to contribute to.

This kind of question arises every now and then on #fsf (freenode) as
well, and even other channels. Someone is eager to help the community
and contribute to a free software project, but does not know where to
begin. And it's easy for us to say "find something you already use and
contribute to it", however this is not as easy as we make it out to be.
To begin with most people (as we know) run a large variety of software
on their computers, many of which are complex and have a very large code
base. What's more, we must all be familiar (through convincing our peers
to use Free Software) that too many options is just as scary as too few.
And even when they do try to find a project to get involved in the
questions arise of "do I have the skills?", "where exactly do they need
help?", "I don't have the time to contribute a lot, can I be a casual
contributor?", etc. Yes, these are things that they could really just
ask the maintainers of the project and the maintainer would be more than
happy to show them the way, however for someone who is new to
contributing to Free Software projects this isn't as obvious.

Something that I really liked when considering GNU Savannah for hosting
one of my projects was that it had a 'Help Wanted' page (which I
mentioned above). To me that is a great feature that allows new
contributors to find a project that is looking for help, and it even
answers a lot of the questions that I mentioned above that go through
the newcomer's mind ("do I have the skills?", mostly). However, GNU
Savannah has two flaws in this regard: 1. It's only for projects hosted
on GNU Savannah, other projects hosted elsewhere should also be able to
ask for contributors, 2. A lot of the information on GNU Savannah's
'Help Wanted' page is outdated.

Therefore I would suggest creating a site (it would be nice if it were
linked to by the FSF) where any Free Software project can post a notice
asking for help (similar to what GNU Savannah has) and visitors can
respond. However, unlike GNU Savannah there should be two improvements
(at least): 1. To avoid a bunch of outdated information these posts
should be renewed every so often (making it easy, like responding to an
e-mail for renewal, may be a good idea), 2. These posts should contain
visible contact information, the visitor should not need to create an
account in order to see the contact information (believe it or not
creating accounts discourages many people).

Things like this already exist, I know, however they tend to be tied to
a certain repository host, overflowing with outdated information, or in
general simply not given the attention they need to thrive and be a
hot-spot for contributors to find projects. I think that with the FSF
behind such a project it would help the Free Software community to take
advantage of all of these people who are eager to contribute but trying
to find a good place to start.

Nicolás A. Ortega (Deathsbreed)
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