On Tue, 2006-01-03 at 19:44 -0500, David-Paul Niner wrote:
I realize I'm an outsider here, so I'll keep my response
I volunteered a number of weeks back to work on some documentation (The
RPM manual, IIRC), and was told that someone would be divvying up the
sections and getting in touch with me soon.
So I waited. Not being incredibly familiar with those involved with
the docs projects I didn't feel comfortable just barging in and taking
over editing responsibilities.
No one got in touch.
I looked back through my Gmail archives (thank you, Google!) and see
that Paul Nasrat was the person who had communicated with you. I am
CC'ing him on this email so he can get back into the loop for the RPM
Guide massage with which you kindly offered help.
I also see that Karsten was helping you with some problems you
experienced getting your official Fedora account working. Sorry you
were having problems; normally the process seems to work fine, but every
once in a while a contributor's specific configuration, or an ambiguity
in the procedure, makes it more difficult than it needs to be. What's
your status with regard to that account at this point?
I suppose one could fault me for not being more assertive, but with
project of this size it's difficult to know precisely where "the new
guy" should position him- or herself.
As a volunteer project, we do have to depend on new folks to sort of
jump in with both feet... but it can be a daunting prospect! It wasn't
very long ago that I was in the exact same position as you. Some of the
older hands helped me out when I had questions about Emacs, DocBook XML,
and so forth, and it wasn't long before I was very comfortable with the
As for positioning? Well, it's mostly up to you! I can think of
several areas that need attention right now -- several of the drafts at
in fact! People are drafting
on the wiki so that you don't have to learn all the cool tools we used
just to get started. Eventually you will probably want to learn them,
because, well dang, they're cool, after all! And they make it easier
for you to get MORE RESULTS out of LESS WORK. And on a volunteer
project, that's a win-win. But for now, just pitching in anywhere is a
I am currently starting work on a brand new Documentation Guide that
will build on, but mostly supplant, the existing one. A good DocGuide
will make it easier for new people to start, since it will lay out in
plain English everything you need to know to get involved.
I'm just wondering if there is anyone else out there on the
offering to help but just doesn't know where to start.
The marketing idea is keen, and could produce returns, but once you get
the fish on the hook how, precisely, do you reel him to shore?
You've done the right thing by posting this response. Feel free to
pester! To jostle! To annoy! Keep in mind that, just like you, most
of the folks around here are generously giving of their free time, and
it's sometimes hard to squeeze in extra tasks when it's not putting
bread on the table. Don't be afraid to "tickle" someone nicely,
especially when they've promised you some bit of work. It's a sign from
you that you are motivated, energetic, and eager to help out -- all of
which are necessities for a thriving volunteer community.
To you, David-Paul, and especially to all "lurkers" out there who are
worried how to get involved, or whether they might make a misstep: FEAR
NOT! This is not a tight-knit "old-boy" community of stone-cold experts
ready to snap off your head if you don't know what you're doing. We try
to be the kinder, gentler subproject, and people here are very friendly.
We know that this is a part of Fedora that people might want to get
involved in because it seems, well, less like a minefield of technical
pitfalls than some other subprojects.
There's an old adage with which I have a love/hate relationship, because
people misuse it so much -- "Better to keep one's mouth shut and be
thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt." That's NOT what
we're all about at the FDP. That old saw is about offering opinions
when you're uninformed -- it's NOT about asking for help when you're
looking for a clue. I can guarantee that people here want to give out
clues and don't hold anything against folks who ask for them. (FWIW,
I'm living proof, since I learned everything I know about docs, which
admittedly is not much compared to a lot of people, from other FDP'ers.)
So basically, any and all input is appreciated and all offers of help
warmly accepted. If you ever think we've ignored you, say so! I
promise it's a simple case of oversight and not a snub.
OK, can you feel the love? I can, oh yeah baby! (Awright, turn off
that Barry White, that's just icky.) *needle scratch*
Paul W. Frields, RHCE http://paul.frields.org/
gpg fingerprint: 3DA6 A0AC 6D58 FEC4 0233 5906 ACDB C937 BD11 3717
Fedora Documentation Project: http://fedora.redhat.com/projects/docs/