[This is a draft blog post that was never published. I ended up speaking at ElixirConf? on how to get involved.]
--- layout: post title: "I Have a Question!" date: 2015-07-20 14:37:00 tags: elixir phoenix opensource ---
As I get involved in the Elixir and Phoenix communities, I'm struck by how different things are now.
I got involved in open source back in 200X. I knew some Java, and needed to put some data from a legacy database on a web page and allow editing. I searched and found this thing called "JSP Tags". I asked a question. "Can I just... take this, for free, and modify it to do what I need?" The author of the code answered. (!!) At that point my experience with tech support was calling a number and having to convince Level 1 that I knew what I was talking about so they'd pass me along.
by asking a questions because I knew s, discovering Apache Struts, then I started *answering* questions, and I never looked back. I was invited to become a committer based on my community and documentation work rather than code contributions, which was somewhat controversial at the time.
Back then, we had -user and -dev mailing lists. And We Did Not Top Post. :D The issue tracker was more or less gated by the dev list, it was generally Not Done to just show up and open an issue without discussing it first. (There was an irc channel, but it wasn't heavily used, and it was explicitly *not* used for development decisions. "If it didn't happen on the list, it didn't happen.")
So if you had a question, it was fairly clear what you should do: search th archives of the struts-user mailing list, and if you did not find what you were looking for or needed clarification, subscribe to the list, and ask. You could also peruse the archives of the dev list to see what decisions were being made and what features might be coming up.
Now... there are Google Groups (that can send you email,) Slack teams, active IRC channels, Stack Overflow, multiple forum sites... the list goes on.
If you have a question about Elixir or Phoenix, where should you ask?
I'm biased, but I'd love to see more people using the lists... errr... Google Groups. Why? First, the answers will be archived. Second, and more important, the act of composing a good question *forces* you to think through the problem. Often you will solve it on your own!
I see TONS of useful information fly by in IRC and Slack and it just kills me that I don't have the time to try out, understand, and document every single thing. Day jobs!
Opening an issue if you don't know how / have time to do a PR https://github.com/phoenixframework/phoenix_guides/issues/350
Don't be surprised if you get ASKED to submit a PR, it's just us trying to drag you in for the free labor. :) You don't have to. Simply pointing out something that is missing IS a contribution.