Attracting New Contributors: TDF’s Annual Report 2022

Annual Report banner

Bringing new community members on board and helping them get started is an essential part of our work. Here’s what we did in 2022

(This is part of The Document Foundation’s Annual Report for 2022 – we’ll post the full version here soon.)

Onboarding tools and sites

Joining a large and established project like LibreOffice can be daunting for many. The software has a large codebase, and sub-projects use a wide array of tools. In recent years, we’ve made efforts to simplify the onboarding process by linking more services together with SSO (single sign-on), thereby reducing some of the complexity. In addition, we’ve created Easy Hacks and similar “bite size” projects in other areas, so that newcomers can get involved quickly and achieve something without months of work.

Screenshot of What Can I Do For LibreOffice website

Currently, we have two websites that function as starting points for new contributors: “What can I do for LibreOffice” and the get involved page. The former was set up by LibreOffice’s Albanian community, and lets users click through topics of interest, until they find something they want to do. The latter is a regular page, with a list of sub-projects inside LibreOffice, and quick steps to make initial contact.

Throughout 2022, we posted regular “Community Member Monday” interviews on this blog. In many cases, we emphasised how these contributors started off as regular LibreOffice users, but wanted to “scratch an itch” and start to make changes to the software. We highlighted the ways in which other community members helped newcomers to start working on projects, and used these as “success stories” on our social media accounts, encouraging others to make the step-up from being a user to an active contributor.

In addition, we have accounts and projects listed on various volunteering platforms, including VolunteerMatch and Idealist (English), Vostel (German), Vapaaehtoistyo (Finnish), TuDu (Polish) and HeroClan, Um sem um tam and Zapojim se (Czech).

Mentors at The Document Foundation

Thanks to donations, TDF has a team of mentors who help newcomers in the project to get started. Throughout 2022, Hossein Nourikhah (Developer Community Architect) and Ilmari Laukahangas (Development Marketing) interviewed and assisted interested newcomers, explaining how our projects and communities work, and showing them areas where they might like to get involved. We at TDF find this more “personal” approach to be more effective than just telling people to sign up to a mailing list, or read a wiki page.

Hossein Nourikhah

To assist new volunteer programmers, Hossein wrote blog posts and guides for modifying and building LibreOffice’s source code. This is a daunting task for many new developers, especially given the size of LibreOffice’s codebase, but the guides illustrated some basic ways to get started and make changes that can benefit all users of the suite.

Month of LibreOffice

In May and November 2022, we ran “Month of LibreOffice” social media and blog campaigns specifically targeted at new contributors – ie LibreOffice users who found the software useful, but weren’t yet contributing to the project itself. We showed them how to get involved in LibreOffice (in simple steps), highlighted their contributions, and rewarded them with some merchandise, such as stickers and T-shirts.

LibreOffice merchandise

Like what we do? Support the LibreOffice project and The Document Foundation – get involved and help our volunteers, or consider making a donation. Thank you!