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developers-reference: Improve "Getting started" to talk about more than New Maintainer's Guide

Package: developers-reference
Version: 3.4.1
Severity: wishlist

Excerpts from gregor herrmann's message of Thu Aug 20 11:53:56 -0700 2009:
> Wow, cool, thanks a lot!

No problem.

> Can you image to take a look at the Developers' Reference too? AFAIK
> the only mentioning of teams there is in 5.12.

Yes, definitely. In my previous message I wrote (but didn't send) a
paragraph pointing out that too many of the resources for potential
new contributors to Debian steer toward "Go find some piece of
software that's not in Debian and package it." That may have been a
great way of starting with Debian in the past, (back when there were
many more important packages unpackaged than packaged), but I don't
think that in the current state of affairs it's the best
recommendation for new contributors.

I didn't send that paragraph because I looked through the text of
http://debian.org/devel/join and couldn't find support for my
contention that Debian documentation was steering contributors the
wrong direction.

For example, I knew that the New Maintainer's Guide does focus solely
on the task of packaging new software. [It does a good job of
describing that task. Perhaps the only bug there is that it has a
title that might suggest it describe more broad topics.] But I
couldn't find any pointers from devel/join to that manual, (the
closest I got was a pointer from http://debian.org/devel under the
heading of Packaging, and that makes a lot of sense there).

But now you've got me to take another look at the Developer's
Reference and it has this "gem":

  Chapter 2. Applying to Become a Maintainer

  2.1. Getting started

    So, you've read all the documentation, you've gone through the
    Debian New Maintainers' Guide, understand what everything in the
    hello example package is for, and you're about to Debianize your
    favorite piece of software. How do you actually become a Debian
    developer so that your work can be incorporated into the Project?

That introduction could definitely use some updating along the lines
of what currently exists at debian/devel. For example it could
cover topics such as

  * There's a lot more to being a member of Debian than the packaging
    tasks covered in the New Maintainer's Guide

  * There are many opportunities for participation in ways other than
    packaging, (bug triage, verification, or fixing; website
    maintenance; translation; etc.), and these can and should be done
    before DD status.

  * There are teams, mentors, and sponsors available that provide an
    ideal introduction to Debian. (Interacting with friendly humans on
    relevant projects is much more satisfying than just packaging
    something uninteresting for the sole purpose of having *something*
    to take to the NM process).

I'm filing a bug against the developers-reference package for this
now. (I've already filed several other bugs for things I noticed
missing while going through the NM process recently, and I'll soon sit
down and actually implement each of these as actual patches against
the source.)

Thanks for pointing out another great place where Debian's
documentation can be improved. I really want to help ensure that
Debian presents itself well to attract good people to come and have
fun building the universal operating system with us.


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