It's not necessarily *my* FOSS projects that I want to be successful, but rather the FOSS ecosytem as a whole. I have stewardship over my little slice of it, but the FOSS ecosystem is a much broader (and singular) thing that I believe we all have a joint responsibility in caring for.

All free software is ours for the improving: projects will welcome our contributions and we should focus on broadening our impact.

To accomplish this, it helps to work on reducing the mental leap it takes for you to go from user to contributor, until the line between the two roles is difficult to distinguish. Contribute early, contribute often, and you'll be rewarded with a healthier free software ecosystem.

@sir does that mean drive-by contributions are valuable?

@wolf480pl *so long as you're prepared to receive feedback and improve your patch

@sir I tried to do that on several projects in the distant and not-so-distant past. Universally, my contributions were rejected, often with a less than graceful response from a maintainer telling me just how much my contribution was worth to them.

I learned an important lesson: it's not about scratching my itch. It's about scratching the maintainer's itch. Which is almost never my own.

So, I gave up trying, and have no plans to try again.

@vertigo @sir I've contributed a ton of bugfixes across Github, partially to discover who is open to collaborate versus who the petty tyrants are.

@vertigo @sir its a good idea to open an issue first, or otherwise talk with the maintainers to see if they like what you want to implement. In the end its their decision if they want to merge your code, cause they will have to maintain it.

@felix @sir In one case, the bug in question had been opened against the Firefox code for about a decade. My fix was rejected for "not meeting our coding standards," even though the code I'd read and followed them to a tee, even making my code look like surrounding code. When I mentioned that, I was told, paraphrasing from memory, "That's not what we meant; I mean I don't like your solution." Requests for clarification were ignored. I was told to get lost. The bug is probably still open.

@felix @sir Much more recently, as of last year in fact, I'd negotiated contributions with the maintainer to help out with documentation. It wasn't even related to code. I'd interviewed users for their ways of using the project, and kept up with the maintainer for regular updates to the code so I can reflect it in the docs in as close to real-time as possible.

@felix @sir My contributions languished in code review hell to this day. Now the maintainer is working on their own set of docs, without any input from me or the work I've already performed.

I get what you're trying to say, and I agree with it. But, it's not as simple as that. When I elucidated my lesson learned, it was with this disparate experience already in mind. I stand by my statement and posture regarding FOSS contributions. I've been burned too many times. I'm not doing it again.

@vertigo @felix if you did a huge docs initiative and a bunch of work straight away without any existing relationship with the project then I'm not surprised by the outcome. You should start with small, easily reviewed changes to build up trust with the team.

@vertigo @felix care to share some links? I'll see if I can offer any advice

@sir @felix I have to dig back through the commits, forgive me if I have an incomplete list.

And I have a stack of 9 commits which I made January 6, 2019.

All changes were made under the guidance of the maintainers after discussions with them in the IRC channel, so they knew what was coming, and approximately when as well.

@vertigo @felix I don't want to see the commits, I want to see the discussion around them

@sir @felix More precisely, that's how it started. But because nobody ever gave the OK to commit the changes, whenever a code change came down the pike, I'd have to update the docs again (and thus restart the review process) before it was considered for committing again. And so, the new set of docs grew and grew, but was never committed.

This is also why I've since grown to abhore code reviews before commits.

@vertigo @sir i never tried to contribute to a huge project like Firefox, but some projects are much better at handling contributions than others. If they don't like what you are doing, I guess try somewhere else.

@sir But that's assuming everyone has something to contribute. I dream of a world where normal users embrace FOSS. I can't ask them for a PR, or to update tech docs, or to write tests. Not everyone is a developer, you know.

Casual users could do:
1. promote free software
2. translate strings or documents
3. writing documents
4. report reproducible bugs
As long as you wish, you can do many things to make free software better.
@sir @perrocontodo

Sign in to participate in the conversation

The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!