"The insidious thing about Free software, the really subversive
part, is that it takes so little to start writing it. Anyone with a
few tools, spare time, and the wherewithall to start hacking can.
Witness the long listings of low-version-number IM clients and MP3
players on software announcement sites. People like to code."
"Every new project represents a coder who wants to write free
software, but chooses not to work with an existing project for
whatever reason. How many more people would like to contribute but
don't know where to start? Hundreds, even thousands of free
software projects could use another coder, some testers, and
someone -- anyone -- offering suggestions and attaboys. For each
veteran programmer, battle-hardened and wizened by experience, a
dozen novices spend evenings honing their skills."
"The obvious solution is to match availability with opportunity
and enthusiasm with experience. The free software community can
produce better programmers by giving new recruits mentors to
emulate. It offers the possibility for programmers to learn by
improving existing projects, instead of reinventing wheels. This
doesn't require expert programmers. It takes people with practical
experience, patience, and the willingness to invest time in another
"Though this article draws from experience with free software,
there's no reason similar procedures could not succeed in
commercial settings. Computer science sophmores (and higher) would
benefit from internship programs organized similarly."