Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-project (465 mails)

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[opensuse-project] Strategy: comment on users and contributors
  • From: Andreas Jaeger <aj@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 4 Jul 2010 10:41:30 +0200
  • Message-id: <201007041041.30425.aj@xxxxxxxxxx>
During the openSUSE Strategy discussions, some questions were raised
about users and contributors and their roles within our Community. I'd
like to discuss and define these a bit in the context of our

Community - users and contributors

Community is often defined as a collection of people who interact
together - but what does this mean concrete for the openSUSE project?
I suggest to define the openSUSE community as an open community that
includes everybody that likes to be part of it including users
installing openSUSE on a system as well as contributors that shape the
project. Still this large openSUSE community can be seens as a larger
group of users and a smaller group of contributors.

The users are an important part of the openSUSE ecosystem. They are a
target and beneficiary of what we do in openSUSE and we also strive to
reach out to our users to become contributors to the Project. This
should be a virtuous circle - the more users we gain, the more our
pool of contributors and contributions grow. And the more
contributors the Project gains, the more users we gain. And in order
to sustain that growth of users and contributors, we must ensure an
environment that supports the needs of our contributors by providing
them with the tools they need as well as delivering products that our
users get excited about.

Contribution to the openSUSE project

A lot has been discussed on what a contribution is and I'd like to
highlight a few examples of contributions to the project.

Let's start with the distribution first:

A user downloads the openSUSE distribution from the Internet, buys a
box, or gets the install media in some other way.

If a problem is encountered, the user asks for help, e.g. via:

* the openSUSE forums
* the openSUSE IRC channels
* via a social network like twitter, or Facebook
* the openSUSE mailing lists
* uses a search engine to see what others have said, this might bring
him to any of the openSUSE wiki, forum, mail lists or archives

I would expect that this new user receives positive answers from
forums, IRC channels, social networks and mailing lists. This might
be a friendly pointer (not a simple RTFM!) to specific sections of
relevant documentation, a more appropriate place to ask or maybe an
detailed answer to the concrete question. People helping this new
user are contributing to the openSUSE Project. Users also become
contributors by writing documentation, moderating discussions,
administrating infrastructure, or by with translations existing
documentations and openSUSE wiki pages.

There are many other forms of contribution that do not require
programming ability - for example openSUSE Ambassadors running booths
or making presentations at conferences and local Linux user group

Eventually, the user might download a new package from the openSUSE
Build Service or report a bug using bugzilla.

Obviously software developers are contributing to the community when
their original and creative output is made especially for the openSUSE
project, e.g. running on our infrastructure and improving the
distribution through iterative testing/fixing, packaging FOSS
software, integrating them into the openSUSE distribution, and
coordinating with the upstream projects.

Likewise, as innovations or improvements are made by developers, we
spread the word of their efforts and successes through blogging,
marketing, and other means, which then attracts even more users. The
more users we attract, the more feedback is given to developers
through conversations, bug reports, feature requests, and other

The large upstream OSS community is contributing with many packages,
e.g. the Linux kernel, to the openSUSE project but not in the sense of
a core contributor to the project - more as an "independent supplier"
that rather than an openSUSE contributor.

However, we extend an invitation to upstream developers to become
openSUSE users and make it their platform of choice for developing and
contributing both upstream and directly to the openSUSE Project.

Growing Users and Contributors

During the Strategy Team's discussions, we concluded that our primary
goal at this time is to focus on increasing the number of contributors
in our community by encouraging our users to grow into those roles and
attracting contributors. To do that we know we must provide all with
the tools and the ecosystem to "Have a lot of fun". And, by growing
the contributor community we automatically support the goal of
sparking that virtuous circle of sustained growth benefiting the
entire community.

Let me also emphasize that the above listed contributions is just a
small set of examples. There are many more ways to contribute, and
often we encounter fresh and new ideas from users who should be
listened to, encouraged, mentored and grown into productive project
contributors (where possible).

Let us keep in mind that as a project we care about the whole diverse
community - and the discussions have shown how diverse it can be - and
I'd like to refer to our guiding principles:

"We value choice. We accept and respect that there are different ways
to work, different preferences for applications, environments, tools
or interfaces and different goals of users and contributors. We value
diversity and pluralism as a way of addressing the needs of a broad
variety of people."

What do you think? Is that a common ground? If yes, I'd like to add it
the the collection of strategy pages and look forward to edits,

Andreas Jaeger, Program Manager openSUSE, aj@{,}
Twitter: jaegerandi | Identica: jaegerandi
SUSE LINUX Products GmbH, GF: Markus Rex, HRB 16746 (AG Nürnberg)
Maxfeldstr. 5, 90409 Nürnberg, Germany
GPG fingerprint = 93A3 365E CE47 B889 DF7F FED1 389A 563C C272 A126
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