The Gift Economy Ain't Free: Getting Help with Open Source Software

Presentation | Presented

  • Howard Butler, Hobu, Inc
  • Chris Schmidt, MetaCarta

Have you ever been told to RTFM? STFW? Sent an email to a project's maillist that languished for days without a response? This talk will give you ammo that you can use to bust out of the rut of frustration and non-response. Getting help with an Open Source project that you aren't familiar with can be an intimidating and challenging experience. We will discuss some of the sociological aspects of Open Source development and focus on how you as a newbie to a project can interact with the community in a productive way that provides benefits to all (and solves your problem in the process). We'll give you pointers on how to couch your questions to maximize their attractiveness to people who might be able to help you and provide you with more guidance than to go read the FAQ or start digging in the source code. We will also explain how even transient users can contribute greatly without even writing a line of code, and we'll give some tips on what you can do when you *really* get stuck -- beyond merely tossing some money at the problem.