What does it mean for me to be part of a global community, specifically the Joomla community?
I recently had an interesting conversation with my daughter. She couldn't believe I grew up in a house without a telephone. We got a phone when I was 13 years old. But the reason for getting it was primarily to keep in touch with my grandma. Just calling a friend was expensive at that time. Who you spent your free time with was determined by who lived nearby. Today, I enjoy not limiting my activities primarily to people in my local area. On the Internet, I can easily communicate with people who share my interests.
The question here is what it means to be part of a global community. It's hard for me to draw the line between when you are part of a community. Just like in any group, there are subgroups and different opinions. Who belongs to the community and who does not? Which is the right opinion? Since the initial question currently engaged me I felt targeted and so this text came about.
Working together with like-minded people
Active in the Joomla community, I was able to have a very interesting experience. I was a mentor in a Google Summer of Code project. The Indian student who worked on our team was the same age as my daughter. When it comes to your own family, you are often biased. Working with the student gave me a distancing insight into the world of someone just starting out in their professional life. I also became aware of the similarities between student life in Germany and India, and what is different in the other country. On the day when my biggest concern was to fix my daughter's favorite jeans properly, our student complained that his parents went to their country house a few days earlier than him and he was going to be alone in the city and had to cook his own food. As an aside, we didn't just work on the actual issue. We also discussed questions like "Someone asked me if I would like to work for them. I would like to earn money. But I'm not sure if I can finish my studies well in this case." Of course, such questions must be discussed primarily with parents and friends. But an opinion from more experienced people in the same field from another country is undoubtedly a valuable enrichment if you want to work internationally. And to get this opinion, participation in an international open source project is an ideal starting point.
Members appear and disappear
In the Joomla community there are many local groups: the Joomla User Groups or JUG's. Getting to know like minded people nearby is possible in many areas. I like this.
But: you never get to know other community members in person. I often wonder what happened to Joomers who were active for a while and then suddenly stopped. I was often surprised about my feelings when I heard stories of others I never knew personally. Also in conversations with other open source contributors I have noticed that one develops a relationship with people with whom one communicates only virtually. I wouldn't have thought that was possible 20 years ago. Last year, an active participant in a local Joomla forum suddenly stopped posting. I looked at her recent posts because I suspected a disagreement/conflict. Another user investigated further and found a death notice. As he published it, other posts made it clear that a large number of forum participants were very affected/concerned, even though they didn't know each other personally.
I do not very often use social networks. This changed when the war in Ukraine started. I know that in the Joomla community people from all over the world are active, from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus as well. With this war going on, I check the accounts I know every day. I am happy when I read something new, which indicates that the person is fine according to the circumstances. I also consider the reactions of people I have been following for a while to be more valuable than the latest news, where almost every post says that it cannot be independently verified.
You create something big and learn a lot
Software has the special feature that, compared to material goods, it has little further cost once it has been programmed. Therefore, it can be easily shared. There is no additional cost but a lot of additional benefit. Most people are not unselfish. No one writes code to give it away to others without something in return. A healthy open source project lives on give and take. One uses what has already been created and extends/improves it in return. A programmer might program a missing function for himself. Afterwards they make it available to the project, if it is useful for the public. Someone who has documented something for themselves passes on their texts and people who are familiar with public relations do marketing. This is how the product (Joomla) grows.
Everyone brings in what they think is missing or what they are good at and everyone gets the benefit. No one in the Joomla community could program the CMS on their own. Together it is possible. In my eyes, the biggest plus point is that everyone learns a lot. Even if I sometimes look at a code snippet doubted, because I just did not understand why something is solved in such a way. Other times I see a function as unnecessary and in my opinion it complicates the CMS unnecessarily. But much more often it happens that I find a solution for a problem in the Joomla code and I have high respect for the great solution.
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