Please make open-source easier28 Jul 2014
Hello, open-source people.
First, allow me to say that I love you. I love your work. You are good people, you are doing good.
Although, there's a problem: you see, I'm very keen on giving a hand, but it is hardly easy sometimes.
Let's go through a couple of examples together, shall we?
The Mozilla Location Service, descibed as 'an open service which lets devices determine their location based on network infrastructure like WiFi access points and cell towers.' Basically, this project will allow your phone to show your location without GPS. Cool, eh? To do so, Mozilla needs contributors who stroll around town with their smartphone collecting data about WiFi access points and cell towers. For this purpose, they developed apps, and among them, a simple one for Android: MozStumbler. Everything sounds great. Problem is, I feel left out with my iPhone. No way I can contribute to this finally useful wardriving session.
OpenStreetMap is another beautiful open-source project, which went from nothing to perfectly usable maps in a handful of years. After realising I'm of no use to Mozilla, I thought that I could leave my phone on and upload GPS tracks to OSM to contribute. After a quick research (I insist on quick), well, that looks like a pain in the neck.
Of course there are limitations to contributing to open-source software. You can't support all the hardware in the world, you can't spend months on writing documentation... But come on.
Do we have to rely on open-source to find ways to contribute to open-source?
Never-ending forum threads are nice, deep mailing-lists are great, individual blogs are helpful... But at some point, answer you users' questions yourself. Recommend solutions for them. I'm doing you a favour by deciding on my own to contribute to your dataset or your software. Do me a favour and suggest me a first-Google-result way to do so. You have this? Then, do that. You want to do this? Download that app. If you want to do more, here is how: (...)
It's like cooking, in a way. Every once in a while, I don't want to have to cook a full meal, peel the vegs and set aside an hour to do so. Sometimes, I just want a ready meal to stuff in my microwaves.
So, please, I want to help you to make the world a better place. But I'm a lazy fuck. Help me help you.