For a while now, I have been contemplating the role of non-developers in the community.
As a non-developer I sometimes find it hard to navigate in the open source community and find that people often think that if someone does not contribute code then that person is not a contributor.
I think that many of you reading this are now thinking that I am being ridicule and that you yourselves have never excluded anyone from the openstack community.
That may be correct as individuals however, I think that as a community, the decisions, procedures and even influence of individuals are measured by coders for coders.
I have never written code, never automated tests and if I am honest I do not think I have the skills to do so. I do have the skills to learn the product flows, find the soft spots and to bring a user’s and administrator’s point of view allowing me to not only locate the bugs a developer will not always find in places they may never think of looking but also contribute to making the product better for the intended target – the user.
All that said, on my first week working in the openstack community I have heard the following line from several people “If you don’t contribute code, you’re not really a contributor so learn python”
Since I started working on openstack I realized that the main discussion in meetings is code. Even QE’s meetings are about new automation tests written for tempest and if you are not an automation QE you will feel left out.
I will jump to the latest decision made in the community: blueprints and specs.
It appears to be a good decision making people who suggest a new feature to also suggest a solution.
However, as a non-developer it took me the better part of the day to understand what I need to do.
It all started when I opened a bug which was closed with a request to open a blueprint.
I opened the blueprint and then sent it to the engineering mailing list where I was asked to open a spec.
Since I never worked with git it took me a while to understand what I needed to do and submit a spec.
To my surprise, at this point, I was told I should not have submitted the spec in the first place since I have no way of submitting a technical solution to it.
I found it very frustrating that once I finally submitted the spec I was told that the blueprint + spec procedure was created for developers only.
Not only did I spend a long time working on something I should not have been working on in the first place but also I believe that by deciding on this procedure the community has basically limited even more the options given to a non coder to contribute in the openstack community.
A few of my colleagues suggested that I write a blog on the hardships that I had submitting the spec during this discussion, someone suggested adding a blog in planet.openstack.org and a second person immediately commented that you need to submit code in order to add a blog to planet.openstack.org
Hence I have decided that perhaps it is time to raise the issue of what exactly is the openstack community for non developers? Perhaps the reason the community is largely run and created by developers is because non developers quickly understand that they have no room or a place in it?
I would like to call out to the openstack community to be the first community to change the way that open source communities work and start changes which would open doors to non coders to contribute and integrate in the community.