What can Debian learn from Fedora about recruiting new people?

I’ve been visiting the fedora website in the last couple of days. One thing caught my interest, and that’s the “join Fedora” link just bellow the “get Fedora” one.

I clicked on it and got to this very simple “Join Fedora” page. The appealing part is the large icons which roughly lists the main ways to contribute to Fedora:

  • Content Writer
  • Designer
  • People Person
  • OS Developer
  • Translator
  • Web Developer or Administrator

Clicking etch icon gives you a description of relevant skills, related teams and typical tasks of this role. This is very useful for people not sure about what can they do or where exactly their skills are needed.

On the Debian’s website we have a “help debian” page which lists very similar functions the user can help with. The difference is that we list them at text which is less appealing than the Fedora’s icons. Fedora does have similar text to Debian, but it is organized into roles instead of suggesting everything to everyone.

I also think there’s a semantic difference with the term help and join. To me joining a project sounds more strong than helping it. Probably because joining something makes you a part of it, while helping does not. Although in the end both term have the exact same meaning in for the project themselves – users getting involved.

Openoffice.org has a big “I want to participate in openoffice.org” text in their font page, which like Fedora leads to a set of defined roles. Same thing in Ubuntu with their “Get Involved” page. It is important that each role page will have links the to tools people need in order to start contribute.

I don’t have the required graphical skills to do such icons, but I’m willing to create/edit the pages on the Debian website. I’ll be happy to hear comments before I approach the debian-www people.


Filed under Debian GNU/Linux, Fedora, Openoffice.org

6 responses to “What can Debian learn from Fedora about recruiting new people?

  1. erich

    I have long thought that the Debian website needs an overhaul, along these lines. I would have volunteered to do so a while ago except for the part where I don’t have even a little design-fu. I know this post is specifically about the “help debian section”, I just think you’re being either modest or not ambitious enough :). +1 from me.

  2. Hello,
    At least, we have some wiki pages that could bring valuable information:
    I have been spreading the word about them and using them at talks, for around a year and good interest arise.
    Please, use them also.
    Andre Felipe

  3. I think the other thing we could do is try and make it easier for non-DD’s to help out.
    I would love to help out in Debian, but haven’t currently got the time to pick up a package and maintain it as a non-DD, I don’t speak any other languages well enough to translate, so am stuck as to how else I can help out

  4. Lior Kaplan

    Anton, you can join a team which does package maintenance. Even as a non-DD you could help. The DDs will sponsor the upload at the end, or you can become a debian maintainer (upload rights without becoming a DD).

    You can still write documentaton, help users, do QA tasks like reporting bugs or triaging them, help with the website and I’m sure I forgot a few roles.

    We’d be happy to get help from you in any of these issues.

  5. Anton: Bug triage is probably one of the most underrated activities anybody can do: pick a package you use which has many bugs on registered on bugs.debian.org. Start with the oldest ones, verify if they still apply in current versions, check if they’re registrered in upstream bug tracker (if any), … Speak with the package maintainers about what you should do (just comment on the bug or really act on your findings.) In fact, probably you should announce to package maintainers that you intend to do bug triage, perhaps someobdy else is already doing it.

    Not only can you do all this without being a DD, you can also doing most of it without being a coder and without knowing about Debian’s packaging internals. If you put enough effort into bug triage, you’ll quickly learn a lot about the package in question, Debian’s packaging system and even the internals of the package you’re working on (once you go beyond mere triage on to trying to fix the bugs.)

    Lior: “Getting Involved” sounds definitiely better than “Help Debian”. I’m against “Join Debian” because Debian doesn’t have a useful dividing border between people belonging to Debian and people not belonging to it (there’s DD vs. non-DD but that’s not useful for this purpose): belonging to Debian is gradual, from occasional-bug-submitter to managing-a-few-packages to hanging-out-on-irc-most-of-the-time to have-been-dpl-three-times 😉

  6. There is something about Debian’s slow rythm of development and growth that keeps it the way it is – stable. I suppose some Debian users would say that they don’t care about having a more attractive website.

    I’d like to see changes happen in Debian to make it more attractive in general, without compromising it’s integrity, it’s stability.

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