... looking for an HOWTO?

These days, possibly because it's holiday in several countries around the world, I'm receiving a higher number of "how can I help Debian?" mails than usual. This is good and makes me happy! Those mails show we have a community who cares about giving back to Free Software, in exchange of what they have received via Debian.

Routinely, in my replies, I point people to the following list of documentation we have on how to contribute to Debian:

Am I missing something?

At the same time, it happens that I reply to people who clearly went through (at least some of) the above resources, but which are still blocked at the "what I do next?" step. I guess this is because some of the day to day practices of Debian life are not described in the documentation we have. For instance, I find scarce references to "cultural" aspects of Debian technical life such as:

  • a lot of coordination happens over IRC
  • a typical way of starting collaborating on packaging is interacting with the package maintainers via the BTS, by doing triaging, submitting patches, etc.
  • lots of packages are team-maintained (in fact, this is mentioned in a couple of places, but unfortunately our team list is not complete. Therefore by saying "choose from the list a team you're interested in and contact them", as I recurrently do, I know I'm leaving someone out)
  • how to find a mentor
  • ...

And I'm sure I'm missing quite some other cultural/folklore traits, which look obvious to longstanding members of the Debian community, but which are probably not so obvious to external people.

So, dear lazyweb, have you started contributing to Debian and remember your experience? If so, I'd like to hear from you. In particular, I'd like to hear your suggestions on how we can improve our documentation on the matter (patches welcome, as usual!).

Bonus point. Of the various pieces of documentation we have, it seems that a sufficiently detailed HOWTO-style document, covering both technical and cultural aspects, is missing. If you are into writing for Debian, that might be an experiment worth trying.