[arch-dev-public] Improving overall experience for contributors

Bartłomiej Piotrowski bpiotrowski at archlinux.org
Tue May 23 20:23:51 UTC 2017

Hi all,

Spending some time outside the regular Arch circles, I realized that the
way we "outreach" potential contributors is at least imperfect.

One of the problems I keep hearing about is that there is no clear place
where potential contributors could start. Sure, some things seem obvious
to us: take care of some wiki article or adopt orphan AUR packages. It
isn't actually that easy. Not everyone is interested in editing or
maintaining random packages, and while there is plenty to do, how
someone new could know it? We could use help not only with existing
projects like archweb, pyalpm or namcap, but also with development of
new code (for example a maintainable rebuild automation) and
infrastructure side (which is in fact too generic term that could be
better described). I am totally in love with What can I do for
Mozilla?[1] which is open source, so why not steal this wonderful idea?
But it also means we need a way to communicate with people interested in
helping us: at least an IRC channel and new mailing list.

Another thing that I heard in last few months isthat it is actually hard
for potential TU candidates to find a sponsor. While I believe it is
perfectly fine to e-mail few potential sponsors to ask for opinion,
throwing random messages at people doesn't sound really appealing.
In my humble opinion, we should rethink the way we recruit people
and probably introduce fine-grained permissions to dbscripts that
would allow to limit new maintainers to limited set of packages.  We
should also lower our expectations towards candidates. At least once
we rejected one for some stupid reason (no fingerpointing here, I'm
not saint either), leaving packages they wanted to adopt virtually
orphan. It's better to help amn inexperienced packager gain
experience than voting no, really; to be brutally honest, quite a
lot of packaging work we are handling doesn't have much in common with
rocket science.

I also wanted to touch mailing lists vs GitHub vs Gitlab topic but we
will tackle it another time.

Your thoughts?

[1] https://whatcanidoformozilla.org/

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