Beginner and intermediate users need education. First, they need to figure out what an open source project does, how mature it is, and whether they have the right skills to use it. Most frequently, these users look at the project’s web site, download the software, and then try it out.
Beginner and intermediate users also need help with context. Many of the questions that flood mailing lists have nothing to do with how the open source project functions, but rather concern how it fits into the surrounding environment and what settings are needed to make databases, web servers, and network ports behave properly.
In the subsection that follow, we discuss the most important elements a project should include to help beginner and intermediate users.
A mission statement or brief description of the project featured or linked to prominently on the home page of a web site is a great help to anyone trying to figure out what the project is all about. Here are some samples and excerpts:
“To create, as a community, the leading international office suite that will run on all major platforms and provide access to all functionality and data through open-component based APIs and an XML-based file format.”
“A dynamic web site platform which allows an individual or community of users to publish, manage, and organize a variety of content, Drupal integrates many popular features of content management systems, weblogs, collaborative ...