How to Contribute

by: Merlin Whitewolf

Contributing is a big part of the FOSS community. Developers contribute their time and efforts to the community to develop applications and/or an OS. The reasons they do so may vary, but the result of their efforts is a direct presentation to the community. Without them, we, as users, would not be here. We would not be using PCLinuxOS or any other FOSS system or software.

It is important that we contribute also. We should not allow ourselves to be just users, but rather we should become full members of the community by our contributions. There is no lower limit on contributing. Everyone can contribute something.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Donate money
  • There are always financial needs connected with any software or system development. Contribute what you are financially able to give. Start with the OS you are using. If you have more financial resources available, contribute to the developers of your favorite or most used applications.

    This is the method by which further development is made possible and newer hardware becomes usable with this and other GNU/Linux OSes.

  • Contribute your talents
  • If you have the knowledge to add to the efforts that go into developing PCLinuxOS, volunteer to work with the ripper gang. If you can contribute to the development of this OS or any open source project by adding to the code of a program or writing an interface to a command line program, you will have given a contribution to the community.

  • Join a Project
  • Visit and see what projects are being developed. There are many projects that contribute to the community that are hosted there. The magazine project, the beautification project and others welcome contributors. If you have no major skills, volunteer to be a tester. If you lack enough knowledge to be an effective tester, give encouragement. Everyone has something to give.

  • Active Community Participation
    1. If you know, or think you know the answer to a new user's problem, respond to their question. If the answer they need has been posted previously, respond with a link to that thread and a sentence or phrase like, "I believe this may help."
    2. The forum has a search feature, but don't assume that everyone knows how to use a search engine to its fullest extent. Assisting someone with searching for an answer and in the process giving them the search terms you've used will contribute to their knowledge. In turn, they will have the knowledge needed to pass on these solutions at a later time to another new member of the community.
    3. Encouraging others in their attempts at learning something new or giving them the knowledge to continue has its value. Many times the simple act of encouraging someone to continue in their search for knowledge is the greatest contribution that can be made.

    4. Welcome new users. A simple "Hello, nice to meet you" can be very important. It lets new members know that they are noticed and are not lost in a crowd of strangers. No one should ever feel invisible. Whether they are knowledgeable and able to make an immediate contribution or an absolute beginner, every new member should know that they are welcome.
    5. Be kind. Be patient. A little kindness goes a long way. So, too, does impatience and cruelty. Being kind and patient contributes much more to the community, both now and in the future. It brings a much greater chance of continuing to have a community of users, rather than a list of users.

These are my ideas about contributing, in particular about contributing to the PCLinuxOS community. In my opinion, these may be applied anywhere, but as a wise man once told me, "You always start where you are."