Don't guilt contributions, enable them

This is a bit of a response to Dave Carver’s post versus Alex Blewitt’s and a bit of a topic I’ve dealt with mentoring projects, and how I operate on the CDT project.

Over my years in open source, I’ve seen time and time again where people on projects try to find ways of getting others to come help. A common one is to beg or guilt people into contributing. “You don’t like how that works, then come fix it.” That’s easy to say. But I’ve seen that piss people off way more often than it works, and it only works in rare occasions. I think you need to be sensitive to the skill set and the ability for people to come fix it. Not everyone who uses Eclipse knows how to build plug-ins for it, or has the time to do it. Do you expect them to give up their family hours to come help you out? I sure hope not.

No, my preferred approach is to create an environment where contributions are naturally welcomed. Where those who do have the skills and the time can easily and quickly fix the things that are bugging your community. Creating such an environment isn’t easy and it comes down to a number of factors. Probably the biggest one is to make everyone feel a part of the team. Everyone’s opinion matters. And every contribution is treated like gold, whether accepted or not.

And Alex’s story is very disturbing to me. I’d rather he write about how well he and the rest of the Eclipse team have gotten Eclipse to work on the Mac.