Guest post: Newcomer experience in KDE and other FOSS communities – Survey

Filed under: free software,guest posts,KDE,PlanetKDE — Lydia at 12:06 pm on Thursday, November 8, 2012

This is a guest post from Kevin Carillo, a researcher I’ve been working with to help us improve KDE’s newcomer experience. If you fit the criteria please do take the survey. It’ll help improve the experience of new contributors and thereby help improve KDE. Thanks!


My name is Kevin Carillo. I am a PhD student currently living in Wellington (New Zealand) and I am doing some research on Free/Open Source Software communities.

If you have joined the KDE community after January 2010 (within approximately the last 3 years), I would like to kindly request your help. I am interested in hearing from people who are either technical or non-technical contributors, and who have had either positive or negative newcomer experiences.

The purpose of the research is to work out how newcomers to a FOSS community become valued sustainable contributors.

The survey can be found at:

https://limesurvey.sim.vuw.ac.nz/index.php?sid=65151&lang=en

A quest for community citizens

KDE is a successful community that keeps attracting new contributors and that has a reputation of being extremely newcomer-friendly. But is this enough to make sure that KDE remains a healthy and growing project?

Suppose a community manages to attract 20 new members every month and suppose a large number of them do not comply to the code of conduct, commit changes without considering the people or modules/components being affected by the commits, do not attend or contribute to any of the community events, do not assist any other members when they seek for help, do not treat other members with respect … It will not take a lot of time until the health of the community will be affected and the future of the project seriously jeopardized.

The main assumption that motivated this project is that attracting new members has become crucial for a large majority of FOSS communities but this is not a sufficient condition to ensure the success and prosperity of a project.

So, yes … it is important to attract newcomers but a community needs to make sure that a certain proportion of these newcomers become ‘good’ contributors from the community perspective. ‘Good’ in the sense that they shall contribute to the well-being and growth of the community. ‘Good’ as good community citizens.

What do newcomers have to say about their experience?

Keeping all that in mind, FOSS projects have thus to do a good job at ‘socializing’ their newcomers and turning them into contributors. Doing a good job here means that FOSS projects shall ensure that they help generate those citizenship behaviors from newcomers by designing appropriate newcomer programmes and procedures.

KDE has a lot of initiatives to facilitate the integration of newcomers with its active involvement in GSoC or SoK, the availablity of a wide array of resources dedicated to helping newcomers, or the use of junior jobs to help involve new contributors.

However, it seems that the other side of the coin is less understood by communities: the actual experience of newcomers.

How are the contributions and the behavior of a new member affected if he or she has received formal mentoring by one or several experienced members? Are junior jobs really helping integrate newcomers? How important is the support of a community towards its newcomers? This is what I am trying to find out.

How is this study going to help KDE?

The data will help gain insights about the experience of newcomers within the KDE community. In addition, it will allow to understand how to design effective newcomer initiatives to ensure that KDE will remain a successful and healthy community.

The dataset will be released under a share-alike ODbL license so that KDE contributors can extract as much value as possible from the data.

Since this survey involves other large FOSS projects such as Mozilla, Debian, Gnome, Ubuntu, or Gentoo to name but a few, it will also be possible to compare practices across projects in order to identify what works from what does not work when facilitating the integration of newcomers.

About the survey

This survey is anonymous, and no information that would identify you is being collected. I expect the survey to take around 20 minutes of your time.

The survey is available at:

https://limesurvey.sim.vuw.ac.nz/index.php?sid=65151&lang=en

It will be available until Tuesday, 22 November, 2012.

If you know members of the KDE community who you think would be interested in completing it, please do not hesitate to let them know about this research.

I will post news about my progress with this research, and the results on my blog: http://kevincarillo.org. Don’t hesitate to contact me at kevin.carillo@vuw.ac.nz.

next Community Working Group office hour

Filed under: free software,KDE,PlanetKDE — Lydia at 10:42 pm on Sunday, October 28, 2012

Erdmännchen - Zoopark Erfurt - 20120409
We have not done a Community Working Group office hour in a while so it’s about time we do another one. It will be on Saturday, November 3rd at 16 UTC. We will meet in #kde-cwg on Freenode IRC. Come and ask your questions. Anything related to community is welcome. Feel free to add your topics to the wiki page.

Check what’s happening in Randa

Filed under: free software,KDE,PlanetKDE — Lydia at 6:07 pm on Friday, September 21, 2012

We’ve reached our fundraising goal for Randa! This is really awesome. Thanks everyone who contributed. You really made a difference.

The first sprint participants arrived in Randa this morning and everyone is ready to start the sprint. You can stay up-to-date via blog posts on PlanetKDE and via this Twitter list that has all the Randa participants that I know. (Hint: There are already some pretty nice pictures there.)

Addition since people asked: Any excess donations on the pledgie page will be used for future sprints. So if you want feel free to continue to donate. You can of course also always Join the Game. Have a look at some of the past sprints we’ve done over the years.

Time for another party!

Filed under: free software,KDE,PlanetKDE — Lydia at 2:38 pm on Sunday, July 22, 2012

The 4.9 release is getting really close. This is surely the time to prepare a party. There will be many release parties all over the world. They’re being planned here: http://community.kde.org/Promo/Events/Release_Parties/4.9 One of them is in Berlin on August 4th. If you’re in Berlin you should come. Jos and Camila are kind enough to offer their home (again). Contributors, users and people from other free software projects are welcome. All you have to do is add your name to the wiki page. You can find more details on the wiki page. Looking forward to seeing you!

Oh and if you look at http://community.kde.org/Promo/Events/Release_Parties/4.9 and can’t find a party near you this is a sign you should start one yourself. It’s not hard. Tomaz has some tips.

Akademy and awards and stuff!

Filed under: free software,KDE,PlanetKDE — Lydia at 6:38 pm on Sunday, July 8, 2012

I’m back at home from Akademy and already getting ready to fly out again early tomorrow morning for Wikimania. This is a crazy month…

Akademy was great this year (again). A big thank you to everyone who helped make it happen. I was also very happy with all the talks I’ve seen this year. I especially liked the keynotes by Mathias Klang and Will Schroeder. If you didn’t attend them you should totally go and watch the videos once they’re up. Another important thing was of course the KDE e.V. board election of Agustin and Pradeepto. We have a great team now to navigate us through the next 12 months and more. Exciting times ahead.

Besides this one of the personal highlights for me was of course the Akademy Awards ceremony. Getting the non-application award this year means a lot to me – especially together with Camilla, Kevin, Nicolás and the local team. My award says it is for the huge amount of work I do in KDE and especially everything around Google Summer of Code and Season of KDE. It is awesome to see that this work is valued so much. I can’t do all the GSoC/SoK work on my own though. Over the last years I’ve had quite a bit of help from Thiago, Leo, Jeff, Ian, Valorie, Teo, Ingo, Camila and more.  This award is also for each of them! (However it’ll be hanging in my living room for a long time :P)

things that make me happy today

Filed under: free software,KDE,PlanetKDE — Lydia at 5:04 pm on Saturday, April 28, 2012

I just checked and found that 8 of the 20 successful students who took part in Season of KDE last year have been accepted to Google Summer of Code with KDE this year. I have not checked other orgs and previous years but these 8 alone really made my day. Rock on folks!
For details about this year’s Season of KDE please check Teo’s blog.

I’ve also finally settled in in Berlin. It’s awesome here surrounded by so many of my free software and free knowledge friends. I hardly had an evening over the last week without some kind of get-together. Oh and the sun is shining. Wohoooooo! :D

Akademy sponsoring – deadline for round 2 is soon

Filed under: free software,KDE,PlanetKDE — Lydia at 7:17 pm on Saturday, April 21, 2012

This is just a quick reminder that the deadline for the second round of sponsorship requests for Akademy is at the end of the month. If you need sponsorship from KDE e.V. to attend please find all the details in my previous blog post.

new adventures: Wikidata

Filed under: free software,KDE,PlanetKDE,Wikimedia — Lydia at 10:22 pm on Monday, April 9, 2012

As some of you might have heard I started working for Wikimedia Deutschland last month. I have finally settled in my new apartment and found some time to blog.

I am working on an exciting new project called Wikidata and am doing community communications for it. Wikidata will be a free and open knowledgebase that anyone can edit. It will be a place where people can collect statements like that the river Rhine is 1.233 km long. These can then be accessed by all the Wikipedias and can be accessed and used by 3rd party applications as well. For Wikipedia editors it means they will no longer have to update information in all language editions but just in one central place. This should help smaller Wikipedias immensely. If you want to find out more about the project head over to http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikidata. There has been a lot of press coverage last week (techcrunch for example). You can also read the press release and check out the awesome team I’m working with.

What does this mean for KDE? I will still be around and doing board, mentoring programs and community working group work. However I will not be able to work more or less full-time on them any longer. I moved to Berlin so I am at the center of the KDE world and will show up at local meetings ;-) Getting to know the Wikimedia world is great and I’m sure I’ll have some lessons to share soon.

only 1 week left for Akademy talk submissions

Filed under: free software,KDE,PlanetKDE — Lydia at 9:32 pm on Thursday, March 8, 2012

Just a quick reminder that there is only one week left to submit talks for Akademy in Tallinn. Submit now, don’t procrastinate! (yeah yeah I know how hard that is ;-))

If you need help with your submission or have questions you can reach the program committee at akademy-talks@kde.org.

Nearly 100 GSoC ideas are waiting for you!

Filed under: free software,KDE,PlanetKDE — Lydia at 10:51 pm on Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Last Saturday Teo and I filled out KDE’s application for Google Summer of Code. I hope we will once again be selected as a mentoring organisation for many excellent students.

If you plan to apply as a student with KDE we have nearly 100 ideas for you to chose from on our ideas page already and I’m sure some more will be added in the next days. And you can of course come up with your own idea, too. (You really should talk to a potential mentor in that case though. But you should do that anyway ;-)) Don’t wait, start now! Oh and don’t forget to read Teo’s advice. As a former student, mentor and now admin he knows what’s ahead of you.

But most importantly: Believe in yourself. You can do awesome, I’m sure ;-) Go pick an idea!

 

Oh and don’t forget that we’ll be focusing this year’s GSoC and/or Season of KDE on accessibility. Applications in this area are especially welcome.

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