The Motivational Drivers and Barriers of Volunteers in Open Source Communities
I mentioned a while back I gave a short talk on “To Ubuntu and Beyond, how I got involved in it all” to a group of Masters Students at DIT on a very early Saturday morning.
I found it interesting at the time these were masters students studying Project Management and some of them hadn’t even considered using an Open Source alternative in their businesses. They also didn’t realise by using some applications they were in fact using Open Source. So I wasn’t very hopeful of any follow up. I was wrong!
Two students Barry and Niall contacted me recently, they have chosen Open Source topics for their thesis. I met with them last week for a general Q&A session, I wanted to see how I could help and they had questions on Ubuntu. After about two hours of me firing information at them about the Ubuntu Community, Launchpad, IRC, Wikis and how I got involved, I showed them how IRC worked. They were very polite and took lots of notes and asked for clarification on comments and followed up with questions. I explained the layout of the community from top to bottom and about the different teams that are working towards making Ubuntu what it is.
When I left I went over the stuff I had said, basic information I knew as I’d been using linux for a number of years. To me it’s common sense, but looking back at the conversation I had and the remarks that were made made me realise sometimes in the community we take a lot for granted and sometimes we don’t have patience with new people. An example being HTML and top posting in email threads. Both drive me bonkers! Namely as I’m so used to them now doing it the other way is utterly wrong to me. But Niall did wonder why all of the mails I replied to kept replying at the end and it wasn’t till I explained why did he realise.
I went back the following day for Day II of Introduction the Ubuntu community as both of the lads have chosen to focus their areas on Ubuntu. Clearly I made one or two good points in my talk! This time I got both of them to sign up to the Irish Team, and the mailing list. For them to log into Launchpad, they had to create an Open ID which again resulted in a small explanation. I also go them to log into the wiki and show them around. IF you think about it, most people would never have to go near a wiki or edit it or even log in, so this was all new to them. I also encouraged the two of them to mail the team list and introduce themselves to us as they will be coming along to the Ubuntu Hour and looking for people to interview.
So this first post is going to be on Barrys topic – “The Motivational Drivers and Barriers of Volunteers in Open Source Communities”. I asked Barry what his level of OSS background was and what he had done before, just to explain to folks, this is where he has come from and his level of expertise.
I’ve not done any work in OSS at all. Although thanks to you i’ve started using it 🙂
General info, I’ve an honours degree in computer science from Griffith college. I’ve work in IT for about 8 years in various IT roles, system administration, QA, Bug development and for about 5 years as a business/systems analyst. I worked on point of sale software for Arklife AIB and then later Hibernian. My last potion was in Bank of Scotland where i worked in the corporate banking application development in a system analyst role. I’m also a qualified financial advisor and I have a cert in Prince 2.
So with that in mind, Barry has a lot to look into and learn about Ubuntu and our community I hope folks will be helpful and advise him if he is stuck or needs a hand.
Step 1 Knowledge Elicitation: In order to best analyse the motivational drivers, and understanding of the open source communities is needed in order to ask questions that will elicit the most appropriate response from participants. Therefore after initial research and observation into the communities, semi structured interviews will be held with experts from that community. Using Knowledge management techniques such as card sorting and triadic method, a knowledge map will be built of the domain. It will also be decided through this process as to what communities will be involved so that a more rounded and accurate reflection of communities is represented in the data.
Which is where Barry is at now, as well as learning about the Community and how Ubuntu works! Why we all help out where we can and get involved.
If anyone wants to ask Barry more questions he has said drop him a line