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Freshmeat: The Importance of Non-Developer Supporters in Free Software

Apr 22, 2000, 18:09 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jacob Moorman)

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"They may stand outside the spotlight on the project. They may not invest time in writing code. Whether they are on the listed staff of a project or not, project supporters who do not contribute code still play a crucial role in the day-to-day perception, acceptance, and strength of most Free Software projects. The people most frequently recognized in conjunction with a project are the administrative staff (maintainer or lead developer) and the developers who contribute the largest portions or most important portions to the code base for the project. What of the others?"

"Why are testing staff and general project supporters not often recognized for their efforts? In some cases, it is because the administration of a project is unaware of their efforts; people providing unofficial assistance do not always make their efforts known to the administration. In other cases, it is because developers and administrative staff may not understand the importance of these volunteers; they may ask more questions of the developers at times, but certainly reduce the overall question load."

"To those who already make effort in recognizing those who support their projects, I applaud. For those not already making effort to recognize excellence in non-developers, I propose some basic things you can do to encourage this type of behavior. First, post a Web page containing the names of those you wish to recognize for their efforts. ... Second, consider including them in project decisions you feel may affect them or may be of interest to them. Finally, give them verbal encouragement for their efforts... With the growth of Free Software worldwide, we must increase awareness of how people may help these projects and recognize those who already support our efforts. Most of our greatest supporters know no programming languages."

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