July 5th, 2011
I’ve been thinking lately about ways to improve ways in which I interact with Free Software projects, and ways in which they interact with me. Before I proceed to take steps or make suggestions, I’d like to see if others share my traits and observations.
Here are some questions I have been thinking of. If you’d like to help give me anecdotal evidence, please post a comment below this post. Identify the question numbers you are answering. It helps me if you can give specific examples, but if you don’t have the time or memory for that, no problem.
I will post my own answers in a day or two, but the point of this post is listening, not talking, so I’ll not post them immediately.
Hobbies (General – any geeks)
- H1: To what degree do you like your hobbies to be challenging vs. easy? If something isn’t challenging, does that make it a good, bad, or indifferent candidate for a hobby
- H2: To what degree do you like your hobbies to be educational or enlightening?
- H3: How do you pick up new hobbies? Do you go looking for them? Do you stumble upon them? What excites you to commit time and/or money to them at the beginning?
- H4: How does your interest wane? What causes you to lose interest in hobbies?
- H5: For how long do you tend to maintain hobbies? Sub-hobbies?
- H6: Are your hobbies or sub-hobbies cyclical? In other words, do you lose interest in a hobby for a time, then regain interest for a time, then lose it again? What is the length of time of these cycles, if any?
- H7: Do you prefer social hobbies or solitary hobbies? (Note that many hobbies, including programming, video gaming, reading, knitting, etc. could be either social or solitary, depending on the inclination of individuals.)
- H8: Have you ever felt guilt about wanting to stop a hobby or sub-hobby? (For instance, from stopping supporting users of your software project, readers of your e-zine, etc) Did the guilt keep you going? Was that a good thing?
Examples: video games might be a challenging hobby (depending on the person) but in most cases aren’t educational.
A hobby might be “video game playing” or “being a Debian developer.” A sub-hobby might be “playing GTA IV”, “playing RPGs”, or “maintaining mutt”.
Free/Open Source Hobbies
- F1: Considering your answers above, do your FLOSS activities follow the same general pattern as your other hobbies/interests, or are there differences? If there are differences, what are they?
- F2: Has concern for being expected to support software longer than you will have an interest in it ever been a factor in a decision whether to release source code publicly, or how public to make a release?
- F3: Has concern over the long-term interest of a submitter in maintaining their patch/contribution ever caused you to consider rejecting it? (Or caused you to avoid using software over the same concern about its author)
- F4: In general, do you find requirements FLOSS projects place on first-time contributors to be too stringent, not stringent enough, or about right?
- F5: Have you ever continued contributing to a project past the point where your interest would otherwise motivate you to do so? If so, what caused you to do this? Do you believe that cause is a general positive or negative force for members of the FLOSS community?
- F6: Have there ever been factors that caused you to stop contributing to a project even though you still had an active interest in doing so? What were they?
- F7: Have you ever wanted to be able to take a break as a contributor or maintainer of a project, and be able to return to contributing to it later? If so, have you found it easy to do so?
- F8: What is your typical length of engagement with FLOSS projects (such as Debian) and sub-projects (such as maintaining a particular package)?
- F9: Does a change in social group ever encourage or discourage you from changing hobbies or sub-hobbies?
- F10: Have you ever wanted to stop working on a project/sub-project because the problems involved were no longer challenging or educational to you?
- F11: Have you ever wanted to stop working on a project/sub-project because of issues with the people involved?
Examples on F9: If, say, you are a long-time Perl user and have gone to Perl conferences, but now you are interested in Ruby, would your involvement with the Perl community cause you to avoid taking up the Ruby programming hobby? Or would it cause you to cut your ties with Perl less quickly than your changing interest might dictate? (This is a completely arbitrary example and isn’t meant to start a $LANGUAGE thread.)
Changes over time
- C1: Do you believe that your answers to any of the above questions have changed over time? If yes, then:
- C2: What kinds of changes have happened?
- C3: What caused the change?
- C4: Do you believe the changes produced positive results for you? For the community?