Greetings! My name is Matthew Lam, and I am a student in a software development program at Seneca College, Toronto, Canada. The main focus of the blog will be an open source project pursuant to achieving the objectives of an open source development course I am pursuing this semester (DPS909). The scope may broaden as time and whim permits.
As a lead-in to the course, I was required to read/listen/watch to a number of items concerning the nature and history of open source development. I have never participated in an open source software project before despite being familiar with the concepts and using the fruits of such endeavours myself. (Many years ago I was interested in the FreeSpace 2 Source Code Project but was fatally handicapped by a lack of knowledge of C/C++; now if I could just find the time...)
More recently most of my collaborative work has been as a sysop on a Wikia wiki. Imminently I face the reality that as part of DPS909 I will soon be experiencing a reversal of states. On the wiki part of the responsibility of determining the project's direction and environment is invested in me. However, soon I will be joining an established project where I will be the new contributor, not as a core driver.
In open source and wiki projects, treating users as co-developers is how the project gains person-power, but as I have learned it is practically a more complex matter. Acclimatizing new contributors is the challenge and the success of which lies mainly with the contributor. Contributors who really want to become valued members need little prompting to learn (by example, by asking for help, by heeding the advice of established members, etc.) how the project “works”; it is, after all, not enough to just contribute, one must contribute in the “right way”, according to the expectations prevalent within the project.
Having seen some new enthusiastic wiki contributors fail at the crucible, the main lesson is to be adaptable. The project may do things in ways not to one's liking but it is still contingent on oneself, at least at the beginning, to do things their way. To do otherwise makes it more difficult for one's contributions to be accepted.
Saying that, allow me to offer humble apologies in advance to all of the drivers/managers/etc. whom I may be a cause of distress for in the coming months. I know where you're coming from. :)