In my previous post I talked about the Open Subtitles Design Summit. I attended numerous sessions one of which was a discussion on community. Universal Subtitles is looking for a way to expand their community and promote their subtitle tool. Being on a number of open source projects I always ponder the best way of getting people involved. Here are some things I found useful that came out of the discussion.
Make it easy for people to get involved
Volunteers shouldn’t have to do a lot of research in order to figure out how to get involved. Documentation should be readily accessible and easy to find. The process for submitting new patches or new work should also be easy. Some projects may be on GitHub or Lighthouse or both. These type of tools, even though they are essential, require the user to set up accounts and configure them. Which means novice users will spend time they don’t necessary have just getting ready to contribute. Deterring them from wanting to get their feet wet. The people from Universal Subtitles have already thought of this and that’s why they are allowing you to log-in through Twitter, Open ID or Google chances are a new contributor will already have one of these accounts.
Acknowledge Your Contributors
Contributors that spent countless hours working for free should not be taken advantage of. Nor should they wait weeks for someone to look at their work if a review process is a part of the workflow. Thank people for contributing and let them know that their contributions are appreciated. If the work that was submitted isn’t up to par or doesn’t meet the requirements of the project don’t just reject it. Outline your concerns and ask for a re-submission. You should always built a good rapport with other contributors before you tear their hard work to shreds. If there is no review process a good thing to implement (something also being implemented by Universal Subtitles) is a point system. Contributors get points for each contribution. The points are displayed for everyone to see. This easily turns into a competition of who has the most points and leads to an increase in contributions.
The folks at Universal Subtitles are implementing these and other ideas. For more notes on this session check out the wiki.