So you are not good enough to contribute?

This blog post is especially written for those among us who could free up some time to contribute, but refrain from doing so because they think they are not good enough.
The last section is for former and current packaging apprentice candidates, who did get the impression that we think they are not good enough.

Change your perspective

Is this post going to say that everyone is good enough?

No. Only that you do not need to be good enough. Not a single one of us is, we all have gaps in our knowledge, we all have missing talents. Yet Mageia is still there, since over a decade. Why? Because, by bundling our very different skills and talents and by bundling our available time, Mageia became good as a whole.

But, if Mageia is good, then there is no need for new contributors. Never change a winning team!

Well, this team is continually changing without us pushing for a change:
First of all, we do not have eternal life. We have had several great contributors leave this world for good. Like Marek Laane last year. He was a very helpful member of the Internationalisation and Localisation Team and helped Documentation Team too.
Secondly, contributors can cease to have time. That can be caused by work, family, health, study and other circumstances. It just happens often.
Thirdly, the task of a contributor can change. For instance when someone sees she is more needed elsewhere in our project.

Apart from all that, many hands make light work 🙂

But, whichever company is behind Mageia can hire more people, why would I help without getting paid?

There is no company behind Mageia. Mageia is a community of volunteers who make a Linux distribution. There is no division between the community members who create Mageia and those who use it, we’re all Mageians and expected to contribute if, how and when we can. It is very rewarding to help, though. Mageia is a fascinating project with people from all over the world. Contributors usually learn a lot from contributing and get to know many nice people.

So, those who do not contribute are not allowed to install and use Mageia?

No, everybody is free to use it. If you use it but are unable to contribute, then you are still one of us, still a Mageian and member of our community. Besides, you may already have started to contribute without being aware, for instance by showing and telling others that you use Mageia.

But I am not French and not even European

Even if Mageia lives in France, you are welcome regardless of where you live or what your nationality is. We do not need to see your passport. You can contribute incognito, if you prefer, or choose a name from a different country than yours. We only need to know who you really are, if you become a member of our Board.

I am totally new to Mageia and know nothing about Linux

You have a very special, much needed skill: when reading our documentation, you will read what it really says. You will spot things that are unclear or do not work as described. Please register with Mageia and file a bug report about every such issue, or become a member of Documentation Team.
Experienced Mageians are often incapable of noticing errors or gaps in our documentation, because we fail to read as if it is completely new to us.

I have no doubts about my talents, but you seem to have doubts. I volunteered to become a packager, but no one offered to mentor me

Yes, that happens too often. Many of our potential mentors are overloaded. In general: many contributors see less than half the mails and other messages they would like to see, let alone find time to read them. So this is likely a problem in more teams.
It would be great if you would persevere. For instance, read the documentation about packaging and then find a bug in Bugzilla that you could fix. Attach your suggested patch to it and write dev ml a mail with “[Mentoring]” at the beginning of the subject, informing about your patch for that bug and asking for someone to review it.
Another option is to contribute in different ways first. For instance, Atelier Team could really use more contributors now. You would not feel alone there: its new leader joselp would very much like to become a packager, too.

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14 Responses to So you are not good enough to contribute?

  1. JC says:

    Is this project still alive? I haven’t heard anything new about it, not even new releases every few months.

    • Marja van Waes says:

      O, yes, it is very much alive. 143 packages (mostly for coming Mageia 9) were submitted in the past 48 hours and so far in 2022, we had 422 security updates for Mageia 8 and additionally other bug fixes

      But most of our people who wrote messages here, on FaceBook, Twitter and so on, have become way too busy with other things, hence the silence from our side.

      Edit: the mentioned security updates were only those for Mageia 8.

  2. Morgan Leijström says:

    Very well written, Marja! 🙂

    Another Mageia activity example is wiki edits, example: last 90 days:

    We do not release often, but as said there a are plenty of updates. If an update is such a big jump it may disturb some users, that upgrade progam/kernel/driver is found in our backports repos.

    Yes maybe we should blog more.

    As an example of contributing, here is my journey: Myself started as a user of then new Mandriva in 2006. I was rather new to Linux. Got great help on Mageia forum, and now later try to help others there now and then – And still also ask sometimes. Worked some on wiki pages, later created new pages. For QA, I test some packages of programs I am interested in. In Bugsquad push on some issue reports, and worked much on mga8 Errata.

  3. aguador says:

    Great post, Marja.

    I am likely guilty of not contributing enough. I would have liked to have become a packager (in particular recognizing that I am not always in the Mageia mainstream — Enlightement, DoubleCommander, etc.), but I really do not have those skills. I have done some translating upstream where Spanish translations have been lacking (even though it is not my first language), but should perhaps try to help out with Mageia.

    We all owe it to the community to be sceptical of the excuses we make.

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  6. MageiaTJ (Thomas J Andrews) says:

    QA is a great place to contribute, and we welcome members of all skill levels. We are tasked with testing security and bugfix updates to existing packages, to make as sure as we can that the fix doesn’t break something else, before they are released to the general user base. In addition, we test the Live and installation isos for each new release before they go out to the public.

    We just had an example of contributing from QA today. A member noticed a bug in a package that prevented it from running. He asked for confirmation on the QA mailing list, to eliminate the possibility of it being unique to his system. After receiving it, he filed a bug report. When a developer has fixed the bug, the reporter will test to confirm it is fixed, and it will go out to the user base. Absolutely no coding skills were required of the member that found and reported the bug, yet his contribution is every bit as important to the distribution as any developer’s.

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  8. Carlos says:

    Hi Marja, how do I upload the blog posts to the blog in Portuguese? I’m translating the files I don’t have access to upload.

  9. timid says:

    Nicely written. My first thought after reading was “hey, maybe I would fit in”.