Newcomer experience and contributor behavior in FOSS communities

Posted on Sat 17 November 2012 in community, Contribute, FOSS, social, Uncategorized

Kevin Carillo has come out with a Survey to measure Newcomer experience for people who have  joined and any  of the Debian, FreeBSD (including PC-BSD), GNOME, Gentoo, **KDE, Mozilla, Ubuntu, NetBSD, or OpenSUSE ** in last three years.

The survey is available here ,The good thing about this survey is it is all anonymous and the Data will be shared in open

Here are the latest result of hisSurvey after one week of this survey going public.

On one side Students with  Formal Education in Schools and Colleges complain about the  not getting jobs and on the other side the system being very conservative in there approach towards FOSS. i have been working on the aspect of how to get a Newbie to get to speed to contribute and get a job at the end of it ,since working in FOSS communities they develop certain work ethics and experience which are invaluable in real life scenarios , mostly in the FOSS world people do not get Employed because what they are good at but the valuable skills they get by doing FOSS work , this is something with which no formal training or teaching can give them , Employers are just seeking or wanting that part of it , so i warn students many a times to keep there passion and profession seperate in order to avoid conflicting situations , mostly  i have seen students want to Join the FOSS communitues with different motivations and expectations , i classify them mainly into

  1. Jobs seekers   : around  95 %
  2. Enterprenuers : 2-3 %
  3. Contributors   : 2 %

my approach in classifying is very simple check out if they are under any financial  pressure , can there family support there choice financially if not send them to Jobs in the industry they can always come back once they become more stable and hope in future they will turn back to become 2 or 3 kinds . I tend to have and focus most of my energies on making the 2 or 3 kinds .

Talking abour skills development the unstructured  way has been going on for years , recently i saw Openhatch  just trying to do that in a very structured way , i will be supporting it and will be talking more and more about it in near future.

Google SOC is  one other programme i have been following since inception , The general perception is not many of the GSOC students stick with the projects , or the spirit of Innovation or greater good , most of them are happy with using this as a ticket to  jobs , In India money is the other motivating factor , i have seen such a programme much before SOC was run by Sarai  they had this programme for supporting the practitioners with an intent of doing public good .

The Foss communities have come a long way in last two decades i have been associated with them now  the Local User groups are trying to reinvent themselves and move away from being only certain GNU/Linux Distro oriented communities there are now cluster of communities in the form of languages , content management systems, cloud software and  anything you can think of no wonder that proves we have come a long way. Communities too have there life and they evolve over time.

coming back to surveys these kind of impartial studies are very important , Other survey ideas which i have been thinking about are

  • Till date we still do not have numbers on how many Foss users around the world.
  • My personal interest has been to come out with a survey to measure how much value  ( by value i do not just mean money ) FOSS has added to ones skills apart from the formal education in his career , i do not know what can be the criteria and how to measure it :-(