[gnome-love] It's all about the medals you're wearing.

I am impressed how many people have signed to the gnome-love
mailing list. This shows how many people are interested in
making GNOME better. We now have 166 subscribers! this is
just awesome.           

It's all about the number of medals you're wearing.

The first time I installed linux and ran GNOME I fell in love
with it, this was not too long ago, about January 2000. I had
been hearing for some time all this stuff about open source [*1]
and getting access to the source code blah blah blah, but looking
at the GNOME screen made me feel good. I think the reason that it
made me feel good in large part was that for the first time I was
in front of an operating system/desktop where I could actually do
something about problems and limitations.

The first thing I did was to open the "about GNOME" program where
the contributors name scroll down. And I set an objective for
myself : "In a year, I want my name to be there.", I was 
unsure how I was going to do it, but I wanted my name to be
there. Three months later, my name was there.

lesson #1 :
Becoming a GNOME hackers is easier than you think.

I became a regular contributor to GNOME pretty quickly i would
say, both because I was extremely lucky [*2] and because the
community welcomed me very nicely. Because of this, I have
always felt in debt and helping other contributors get involved
is the only way to pay back. When Miguel started mumbling about
the gnome-love thing, I immediately felt like that i should get
involved. This was a way to help even more people enjoy what
I enjoy the most.
        I've seen a lot of people come and say how much they want to 
contribute to gnome, a lot of people redesigning major parts of
our architecture and never writing any code, a lot of people 
sending messages to mailing lists with "This is what you should
do" ideas.Some of them, the minority, actually get involved, actually
write code and actually make GNOME better with their contributions.
I've come to the conclusion that the difference between these two
types of contributors, is very, very slim. There seems to be a
pattern that differientates these two types of guys. So I would
like to point _one_aspect_ that i think makes the difference
between these guys hoping to convert more of them to the golden type.

- It's all about the medals that you're wearing

     When it comes to valuing a contributor to a free software
it's all about the medals he has. It's all about the tasks that
he set out to do, did the research and got the code for, and more
importantly finished the task. Took the task to the finish, where
the code reached our sacred CVS server.

     If you want to become a contributor, you need to start getting
medals arround your neck. It does not matter how big the medals are, who
cares. It only matters how many you've got. Get used to gaining medals,
and the size of your contributions will start growing. If you have
been spending time trying to get your first medal and you think
that you have not acomplished the objective (code in CVS) then redesign
your strategy and shoot for a smaller medal.

     Yesterday i received this patch :

        Index: mahjongg/ChangeLog
RCS file: /cvs/gnome/gnome-games/mahjongg/ChangeLog,v
retrieving revision 1.50
diff -u -5 -r1.50 ChangeLog
--- mahjongg/ChangeLog  2000/10/20 03:48:36     1.50
+++ mahjongg/ChangeLog  2001/05/23 19:04:53
@@ -1,5 +1,10 @@
+2001-05-23  Juan Pablo Mendoza <pablo_juan yahoo com>
+       * mahjongg.c (properties_callback): Connect to close signal
+         instead of delete_event. Fixes bug #53450.
Index: mahjongg/mahjongg.c
RCS file: /cvs/gnome/gnome-games/mahjongg/mahjongg.c,v
retrieving revision 1.71
diff -u -5 -r1.71 mahjongg.c
--- mahjongg/mahjongg.c 2000/05/04 12:25:36     1.71
+++ mahjongg/mahjongg.c 2001/05/23 19:04:58
@@ -972,11 +972,11 @@
-       gtk_signal_connect (GTK_OBJECT(pref_dialog), "delete_event",
+       gtk_signal_connect (GTK_OBJECT(pref_dialog), "close",
                            (GtkSignalFunc)pref_cancel, NULL);

      This is a 1 line patch, in fact is a remove 6 characters and add
13 characters. But this patch fixes an actual bug (see bugzilla if
you are curious). So this guy got a medal yesterday, his code is in
CVS and will be fixed on the next release, whenever that happens.

lesson #2
It's all about the medals that you're wearing

      So to get involved, you don't need to get involved with a
bleeding edge library or a huge application, start small, get the
experience you need, get the ball rolling, learn a lot. Yes, I know
you are a very, very smart hacker [*3] and there isn't anything
that you can't tackle but it's like building a muscle. You need to
get used to actually contributing, utill it becomes second nature.

      When I first started using GNOME there where some usability
problems that made my experience less than perfect. Dialogs without
accelerators, menus with duplicated accelerators or accelerators
that will not work, etc. Just as an example, fixing the accelerators
in all the main apps/applets/utils of GNOME is a great task. I don't
understand why it seems that people feel like this is a small
contribution. I don't believe this to be a small contribution by any means,
because it is a major flaw in GNOME, something that is pushing users
away. It would rock if we didn't had this problems anymore.

After a year of using GNOME, ghex (one of the first apps i used)
still could not open the file menu by pressing Alt-F. Well, I
fixed it a year later [4]. And that day i was a happy hacker. That medal
to me is as valuable as some of my larger (codewise) contributions to

     Your first contributions are not as much as the technical aspects
as they are about the bumps in the road you will hit. Don't let your
slow modem stop you, don't let a maintainer which does not answer your
mails stop you, don't let gal not compiling stop you. You will find this
(small) problems down the road, and getting over them is what makes
a contributor become a GNOME hacker, because once you find a way to deal
with them, they become a non-issue.

Lets get the ball rolling.


P.S: Here is a _GREAT_ link to read : http://pobox.com/~hp/hacking.html
     I suggest you read it twice !

[1] - Back then I didn't knew that Open Source != Free Software, now I do
[2] - That is a story that should be told some other time
[3] - Hacker = coder, webdesigner, translator, documentation, artist etc etc.
[4] - 

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