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

“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.”

Complete
Story