Like Learning Where Milk Comes From, Only With Coding Rather Than Milking

I hear people talking about user-generated content as if it just happens—thousands or millions of people just independently assemble to create this great big system, and there you go. This is a little easier to swallow for things like YouTube and Flickr, where the interface is simple enough and the input is individualized enough that you can kind of see how some sort of system might emerge from a chaotic flow of materials. It doesn’t really make as much sense when you think about open source software, though, which one would imagine must be much more coordinated. I’ve often wondered how on earth that stuff happens.

Thank goodness someone had the good sense to ask Slashdot how to join an open source project. The answers range from the technical (which projects are easier to work on, which parts are easiest to contribute to) to the cultural (which help will be most welcome, how to avoid nerds with big egos).