FLOSS is not only about products but communities

The free software environment consist on several people that put time and efforts into developing a solution that can be efficient and used by people looking for that need. This is an important concept that people coming into free software need to understand.

Many users are well trainned consumers that know how to negotiate with companies and get the best value out of products. However the commercial environment which they are used to is slightly different from the environment in the free software ecosystem. It consist not only of a company and service executives puting time into satisfying a costumer. It’s more about an open group looking for people to help out on the software.

Some people might relate more with a activism movement where each member is a valued part of the whole. However users that come to an open source product from a consumer perspective might result in a bit of out of place behavior. This causes some projects to be seen equally with a company developed product. Not to say that this will be necesarilly bad but usually the demands fall short since they expect a company to go and fix it, as opposed to be more constructive with it.

Community

This is usually result in the Hey I got an idea, as opposed to I submitted a patch to your code. Granted not everyone is a developer and sometimes is not really about code itself. Things like, I fixed some typos on your documentation, might do the trick.

Big projects are usually proud of their work as a whole, so they might usually have sites devoted to the community. Communities like Gnome, Mozilla, KDE, Apache, OpenOffice.org and others, will host sites about their people and their developers. Here is a rather old flyer from the OpenOffice.org community that was done during one of the global conferences.

Meet_nl_l10n_cip_people_part_ii_final

Having a healthy FLOSS environment things like community need to be understood across the board. Communities themselves need to value to a better light than just their product. That way regular users will have a more present sense of who the contributors are and what are the standard way to interact with them. This is a matter of processes as well as transparency so that users understand the shift and can switch from a regular consumer to a potential contributor.

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