Elizabeth Naramore (co-founder of the PHPWomen group) has written up an excellent post sharing some research she did on why people don't contribute to Open Source projects (and what can be done to fix the situation).
As those in the open source community who either contribute to, use, or advocate open source projects, we understand the importance of keeping them vibrant and active. We understand how great it is to be a part of a growing project we believe in. We understand the benefits of being an active community member. We understand that it not only helps the good of those around us, but it helps us hone our own skills. So what can we all do to get more people to contribute?
The results from her completely non-scientific poll showed that the three largest factors people don't get involved were time commitments, unsure about where help is needed and a lack of confidence in their own skills. She offers some suggestions about what project leads and other developers can do to help bring more people in like:
- Break up big jobs into little jobs
- keep commitments minimal
- Define exactly what's needed
- Save the low-hanging fruit for those just coming in
- Appoint an ambassador (especially useful on larger projects)