Finding a Great Project to Work On, or Great People to Work on Your Project

  • avatar Deborah Anne Nicholson
    Deb Nicholson is the Director of Community Outreach at the Open Invention Network. She helps software projects of all sizes understand the implications of free and open source licenses and the current patent landscape. In 2014, she won the O'Reilly Open Source Award for dedication, innovation, leadership and outstanding contribution to open source.
So you're either a technical or a non-technical person and you've
decided to meet some strangers and help them with their free software
project, now what? Not all projects were created equal, and you
definitely want your own experience to be a positive one. How do
projects signal to the world that they're ready for new contributors?
Where do you look for these signals? And once you find them, how do
you make contact and manage the relationship so that the experience is
mutually rewarding? Luckily, there are some very concrete ways to
separate out projects that would be great to work on and ones that
would be, well... challenging.

The free software movement needs to grow and that starts with making
our projects more welcoming to newcomers. In addition to coders, many
projects sorely need writers for documentation, press releases and
blogging or experts on outreach, fundraising and volunteer management
or a friendly pack of translators, but aren't sure how to get them.
Tweaking your volunteer pitch, looking in different places, being open
to different communications channels, and finding ways to appreciate
folks will help immensely.

Once you've got them, letting your new contributors get on with what
they're good at will help them feel invested. This talk covers how to
set parameters and manage expectations for new people. This talk is
for both project seekers and for folks who would like to grow their
project. Let's build a bigger, better free software movement!