Ayende @ Rahien

It's a girl

Supporting OSS in the .Net Space

Jeff Atwood wants to donate 10,000$ to open source projects in .Net-land. Check the comments, they are very interesting. This raises the question of whatever monetary support is the best way to support OSS projects. I really appreciate Jeff's efforts, and I think that they would do wonders for the moral of the developers that gets the money.

However, I want to point out some other ways to contribute, just as important, if not more so, than money:

  • Contributing to the documentation:
    • Tutorials
    • Gotchas
    • How-to
    • Samples
    • F.A.Q
  • Participating in the community (forums, mailing lists, etc) - answer questions that you can, help other people when they run into problems
  • Evangelize the project:
    • Post about it
    • Talk about it
    • Help people using it 
  • Bug hunting - there is a respectful position for Bug Contributors - they help make the project better

Contributing code is important, but it is far from the only way you can contribute, and most OSS projects can do with more help in the above mentioned ways than code contributions. Documentation, in particular, is something that OSS projects usually lack at.

As a side note, I think that Frans Bouma has hit a key point in a comment there:

You come with an example where MS provides the source. Great example. The thing is though: that's NOT what should be changed. MS should work _together_ with open source projects started by others, outside MS, and make sure these project don't hit a wall because MS thinks they have to do their own copied version of the same project.

He has some other points in the discussion that I disagree with (choosing to go OSS vs. commercial offering) , but the point above is a very important one.

Comments

Luke Melia
06/27/2007 08:40 PM by
Luke Melia

Looking at what the Rails community has started with their monthly hackfest may be informative: http://www.workingwithrails.com/hackfest

hammett
06/27/2007 10:11 PM by
hammett

Luke, Cocoon has something similar since 2001. But my feeling is that most of the .net community see OSS as products that they dont need to pay for. Aside from that, most of them demand support/documentation/bug fixes just like they were using a commercial product.

The biggest OSS selling point -- for me -- is that you can get involved with it. How often does MS allow you to suggest a feature or a big refactor to WebForms lifecycle? How open they are to new, breakthrough ideas?

With OSS you can suggest, you can participate, you can help shaping the project to fit your needs, as long as your need isn't too specific.

Somehow our community seems to miss this point.

Nate Kohari
06/28/2007 01:19 AM by
Nate Kohari

I agree 110%. One of the major difficulties I've encountered when trying to get an open source project off the ground has been generating buzz. Partially, I haven't wanted to sound the bullhorn quite yet -- I don't have an effective manual yet -- but I'm not really sure how to go about evangelizing the project without sounding spammy. :)

Comments have been closed on this topic.