What's the biggest barrier to participation in open source?

Posted 17 Aug 2015 by 

Opensource.com (Red Hat)
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Lack of a mentor
19% (43 votes)
Uncomfortable jumping in
13% (29 votes)
Not sure where to start
56% (131 votes)
No resources available in my language
1% (3 votes)
Other (tell us in the comments)
11% (26 votes)
Total votes: 232

Getting started in open source can be daunting—especially if you're new to the world of open source software (or hardware), or if you are a minority in the space. But, never fear! We've got you covered with excellent reads to help you navigate the territory.

First, vote in our poll and let us know what you think is the greatest obstacle to overcome. Your answers will help us create better content for you going forward.

Then, read some of our materials on How to get started in open source, and from our series on Diversity in Open Source.

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6 Comments

anon
I went with (other) because the biggest fight I see open source having with regular users is convenience. It's easy to take a picture and have it back up automatically to Google/iCloud. It's easy to have everything sync across all of your devices without having to do anything but login.
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Hans Bezemer
I jumped in around 1995 and had no trouble at all. People at Usenet were very cooperative - advise and even resources like mailinglists and serverspace. I think these "barriers" are completely imagined and simply excuses. The bottomline is: if you wanna DO things then DO things. Don't TALK about it and especially don't TALK about why you supposedly can't.
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ttoine
To me the biggest barrier is to not be considered as a potential contibutor, for I am not a developer (I don't write code). And most Open Source projects are driven by developers, for developers. I co-founded Ubuntu Studio, and I am working at an Open Source software editor. And this is still difficult. I can write doc, tutorials, reports issues, test a lot of stuff. But when it comes to important decision, most of the time, my opinion has not a lot of value, because developers consider I am not skilled enough. What I like the most to contribute to Open Source projects: - provide the point of view of an advanced user - share how to start with beginners - shake the developers to make them writing softwares that work together, and focus on what is important for users
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r3bl
I kind of don't like that open source projects I want to contribute to are made using dozens of different programming languages. I always have to try to adjust to some new language I haven't used before to contribute to a certain project I like. I always spend like a month figuring things out, reading the code and understanding it before I actually write a single line of code. Now I know the syntax of like 10 different programming languages and I can understand the code written in them, but I'm far away from calling myself an expert in neither of them, which kind of bums me out.
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Jan D
Seeing the project from the user’s (and the *potential* contributor’s) side is often a minor concern, which can make contributions to project presentation/usability/interface very unpleasant (They should use the terminal/they are dumb/…). However, this concerns only a few communities, some are really pleasant to work with, even in usability and design.
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Blaze Miskulin
The biggest barrier for me has been the cold shoulder. I have approached open-source projects several times and offered my services. I'm a writer and editor (including manuals) I have a degree in design. I find new and creative ways to break things (bugs love me), and I've spent the past 4 years working for a language training center in a highly diverse area of China (full of international companies). Of the times I've asked how to get involved and contribute directly, I've either gotten no response or a boiler-plate reply saying "give us money or report bugs. When I offered translation services (for free), I was told "we don't pay for that." The open-source community needs a "recruiting department" where people who want to contribute can be given clear information on how to do so, projects can access a pool of available contributors, and both can get assistance from people who can handle HR.
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