So you've read the FAQ, joined the mailing lists, and found your way to this Wiki (where the action is), all ready to help the foundation goals, but you're wondering, so what do I do now?
Add Yourself to the Member List
Well, the first thing you can do is introduce yourself and let people know what you're about, and what you're interested in. The best way to do this is to create an account in this Wiki (top right of this page) and add some information about yourself. Since you've read the FAQ and the Member Area, you know that everyone participating is a member, so adding yourself to this Wiki is the first thing to do. To add information about yourself simply log in with your new account and edit your Wiki user page (click on your user name that appears at the top once you are logged in). Please observe that you must add an email address when creating your account so that OSGeo can send you the confirmation string that is needed before you can edit. For more general information about using a Wiki, see Help:Contents.
Join the OSGeo Main Site
Joining the main site is primarily useful if you want to use authenticated services like Trac (for submitting bug reports against OSGeo projects) or Subversion. To get an "OSGeo Userid" for the main site and these services, follow the instructions on the OSGeo Userid page.
Find a Project to Work on
The easiest place to start is the Volunteers Needed page, as projects will put up their requests of what they're looking for. You also can email the discuss list directly to let people know what you're interested in, and where you could slot in. You can also go to the [OSGeo website] which links to projects and committees that are fully started. After you click on a project you'll be taken to their main page, where you can learn more about how to become involved. You can also subscribe to various OSGeo mailing lists or browse their archives.
Join a Mailing List
On many projects there are 5 or so mailing lists. The best email list is often named the same as the project (like email@example.com), or sometimes discuss. Some lists can be avoided at first, like commits, cvs, and issues (which are automatic email lists from the source repositories and project trackers). The announce list will generally be low traffic. The dev and users lists may have good traffic if they are programming projects, in which case the users list is probably the place to start. Jump on a list for a project and introduce yourself, ask where you can help out.
Jump on IRC
Many of us hang out on IRC at irc://irc.freenode.net#osgeo. Or in more verbose terms, on the osgeo channel of irc.freenode.net. There are a variety of IRC clients:
- Use the OSGeo Web interface to IRC (no installation needed)
- If you're running firefox ChatZilla is very straightforward.
- If you're used to living in a terminal then the irssi client combined with screen is a setup a lot of people like.
- There are many others as well (could people add links to their favorite clients?): Gaim.
With IRC you can informally get to know people, what they're working on, and how to help out. Many of the projects in the open source geospatial community also have channels where people discuss development and offer social support; there are (at least) #mapserver , #gdal , #geotools , #qgis , #openlayers , #zco , and #publicgeodata channels on irc.freenode.net. Read an introduction to IRC.
IRC is one of the media used for committee and other meetings. If you missed a meeting on IRC or just want to read up on what happened you can go to the archives at http://logs.qgis.org/osgeo/. There is also an experimental IRC blog which publishes URLs posted on IRC.
Hack on the Wiki
This Wiki is where a lot of action takes place. Collaboration is much easier here, so we'll start up new documents here, and transition them over to the osgeo site when we're happy with how they look and what they say. Documents on osgeo.org reflect OSGeo's positions, while on the Wiki we work out what those positions are. You can find out where the action has been on the Wiki by clicking on Special:Recentchanges. Feel free to add new pages, propose new projects and ideas.
To add a new Wiki page, just take the standard URL http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/ and add a page name behind it (even spaces are possible in the URL):
Example (please choose a reasonable page name!): http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Newpage
and voilà the empty page appears. Then click on the "edit this page" link. Please put [[Category:FAQ]] at bottom of the new page. (Really, we mean that! Wiki pages without a category are easily getting "lost" in the wealth of this Wiki...)
Wiki Syntax Converter
- Table nightmare? Just use the Copy & Paste Excel/Openoffice to Wiki syntax Converter...
- http://diberri.dyndns.org/wikipedia/html2wiki/ converts HTML files to Wiki syntax.
- Workaround for other formats: Most text processing software can save documents in HTML syntax. Copy and paste the content to this tool. The visual result is surprisingly good, but the 'source code' is somewhat overloaded with format tags (<font>, etc.).