Friday, July 24, 2015

[jog-journal] Natural Selection in Dogs and FOSS Contributors

The usual pack of stray dogs were serenely looking at the morning walkers in front of oval ground - not moving unless the wheel of an oncoming car is directed at the ground under their rib cages. One of them suddenly started jumping with joy as it saw an old man and ran towards him. "Did you think I have biscuit?", said the old man petting it.

Why do dogs love humans so much? Maybe during our evolution, we humans gave environmental pressure for the selection of loyal dogs only. Maybe cats evolved on their own and maybe that's why they don't care about humans.

I think contributors to FOSS also undergo such a selection, unknowingly.

People who end up being contributors to FOSS are the people who ask questions and answer them themselves.
Most FOSS projects are written as dogfeed to solve the author's specific problem. It is only an after-thought that makes it a public library. Therefore, things would be done in ways that are less than intuitive. Configuration would be a mess, and the only documentation would be the few comments that're dispersed in the source code.

With projects being so beginner unfriendly, how do newcomers start contributing to FOSS? Or, what kind of newcomers start contributing? Only those who are genuinely curious, who're willing to learn by themselves, and who are more comfortable finding answers online than asking people questions.

This could explain why sometimes FOSS contributors are the worst people to take help from to get started with contributing to FOSS. They themselves are curious truth seekers who do not like third party answers. They are not acquainted with the process of handholding. And therefore, they appear hostile to the poor newbie who is still learning to ask questions the smart way.

Today morning I made a presentation for two girls in a college in Kerala whom I met at hackindia to get started with FOSS. I have been trying this pedagogy which puts the emphasis on acquiring those skills which help in auto-didactism.

And I ran so hard that I felt my eyes would pop out.


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