I have been interested in open source software for years, I think I started playing around with Linux back in the late 90's as a young teenager, and I started messing around with open source software packages, tweaking the code to fit my own specific needs, 5 or 6 years ago. That whole time, I yearned to be part of the community, I wanted to give back, but I didn't know how. Oh I did some reading on the subject, I learned about diffing my changes, making a patch, submitting it to the correct place and so on, but as a newbie it was really very daunting.
Fast forward a few years and along comes Github, a place to do social coding. Instead of pointless social interactions like poking people or inviting them to play Farmville with you, now you can branch someone's repo, make changes, submit pull requests, or submit issues when you find bugs. It's easy to contribute, there's very little friction and it has a great, easy to use interface for carrying on a conversation about a piece of code or an issue. Github allowed me to contribbute to open source in an easy, yet highly visible manner, whicih acts as a sort of gamification of the open source contribution system.
In a recent Github pull request thread, Linus Torvalds ranted about how he did not use Github's pull requests becuase they stripped out required information, the diffstat was deficient, and th comment formatting was too limited. As the creator of Git it is certainly his place to voice these opinions, and I greatly respect his views. I'd love to do things The Right Way, I'd love for my pull requests to mee the Linus Standard, but at this point I'm just happy that I'm able to contribute to the open source community, and run my own projects that others contribute to.
So, this got me thinking, what are some other barriers for entry into activity in the open source community? What is the barrier for entry that keeps designers from joining the community? What are the barriers to entry that keep copywriters from submitting better documentation? What will be the next hot tool that enables a whole new subset of the community to grow unhindered?