Interview with Ilmari Lauhakangas, Development Marketing

Ilmari Laukahangas, based in Helsinki (Finland), is in charge of Development Marketing.

We have asked him a few questions, about his relationship with free software and his role in the community.

How did you become involved with free software and LibreOffice? Are you contributing to other FOSS projects?

I did localisation for FOSS projects in the early 2010s. Around 2012, I started contributing more to Retroshare, a secure communication platform, doing recruiting, translation coordination and web design.

In 2014 I began doing quality assurance for LibreOffice. People like Yousuf Philips, Joel Madero and Robinson Tryon were instrumental in making me understand the relevance of QA work. The attitude towards recruiting more contributors was spontaneous and immediate in the QA team.

I have focused on LibreOffice for the past few years.

You have been involved in the LibreOffice project for quite a long time, in QA and other areas. Can you summarize your activities?

I have: 1. somehow touched over twelve thousand reports in TDF Bugzilla, 2. improved and written technical documentation in TDF wiki, 3. improved help content, 4. done development for the web help, 5. edited content for the main website, 6. piloted the use of the translate extension for TDF wiki and guided people in its use, 7. helped new contributors get started in development, QA, documentation, design and infra, 8. recruited contributors through various channels such as VolunteerMatch.

You have explored several tools to attract new contributors. What do you think we should do as a project to keep the high level of contributions necessary for a large FOSS project such as LibreOffice?

We should make sure our technical documentation is high quality. When developers run into good documentation, they are very happy.

We should invest in improving the user experience of our web-based tools.

You are responsible for Development Marketing since September 1. How can you describe your responsibilities? Who should get in touch with you?

Basically everyone who wants to improve LibreOffice should get in touch. If you have no idea of how you could even be useful, I will help you find out, because everyone can be a part of the community and contribute! I hope to encourage strong cross-team collaboration. I want people to be credited for their work. I want us to have a safe and supporting environment for everyone to challenge themselves, try new things and learn new skills.

Technology focused high schools and universities, what should we do to grow the interest and the willingness to contribute among students?

This is more of a political question. If money and resources are lacking in education, teachers will not have time to offer structured introductions to free software projects. Likewise, if higher education is not free, students will have to work alongside their studies and will not have the energy contribute to FOSS.

On our part, we need to provide students with software they can rely on. In Finland, thirty thousand students in advanced secondary education use LibreOffice every year. If they find the software enjoyable, surely they are more inclined to contribute.

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