How can the community help

Larry Virden on comp.lang.tcl:

(slightly edited)

I think there is a misconception within the community that one has to be some sort of super developer to contribute to the community.

In truth, there are lots of things people can do.

Let's talk about it a bit here.

Things needed within the community.

  1. new development - if you are writing code in tcl or for tcl, consider carefully - it may very well be that what you are writing would be useful to someone else.
  2. reporting bugs in existing code - if you find a problem, be certain to carefully report the problem to the appropriate database/forum/mailing list/email address (certainly in conjunction with comp.lang.tcl) (see How do I report a bug in Tcl, Tk, ...)
  3. develop patches for bugs - if you find a fix for a problem that you or someone else has encountered, contribute a patch to the author/maintainer of the package.
  4. submit patches for documentation - if you find something hard to read, consider submitting an alternative wording. If you find that some feature was difficult to understand, consider writing up some examples and either contributing them to a doc update, or to one of the public sites like BOOK ActiveState Tcl Cookbook, the wiki, etc.
  5. write small articles on some feature of tcl that you've learned. The wiki is great for this sort of article.
  6. join a mailing list in an area in which you are interested and actively contribute suggestions and solutions to problems.
  7. post solutions to problems submitted here at comp.lang.tcl.
  8. write small demos of various features of your favorite extension - if the author is not able to include them in the distribution, then put the code up on the wiki!
  9. Submit specific feature requests to the appropriate author or forum.
  10. Submit Tcl Improvement Proposals if you are willing to program (or pay someone to program) the solution that you want to see occur.
  11. Help find lost software.
  12. There are other things - follow up with more examples!

I know that reporting problems, and even griping, is a daily function of comp.lang.tcl . However, notice that many of the above are intended to cater to people who are using tcl each and every day anyways. When you have a gripe, turn it on its head into a positive contribution to the community!

Later, David Welton wrote on comp.lang.tcl: Here's an 'algorithm' for native english speakers to help out with Tcl (or any open source project, for that matter).

  1. Find a package/code written by non-native english speaker.
  2. Ascertain that the person in question wrote documentation.
  3. Read the documentation out loud to yourself. Does it sound right? Are the sentences clear and comprehensible? Do they sound natural?
  4. Make appropriate changes to documentation and send to the software author in question, being kind, and informative about corrections made.
  5. Work with author to create improved version of documentation.

This is something a lot of people can do, that doesn't take much time or effort, yet which adds a bit more polish (well, english, actually - ha, ha) to documentation.

Native speakers of other languages, can, of course, contribute by providing localized versions of packages, although this is a lot more effort...

During August 2003, slashdot had this article [L1 ] on generating community involvement - perhaps the discussion has some ideas people would like to consider.

Interesting article on open source communities and 5 issues they need to overcome: