The Great Gatsby and onboarding new contributors

1:24 pm community, General

I am re-reading “The Great Gatsby” – my high-school son is studying it in English, and I would like to be able to discuss it with him with the book fresh in my mind –  and noticed this passage in the first chapter which really resonated with me.

…I went out to the country alone. I had a dog — at least I had him for a few days until he ran away — and an old Dodge and a Finnish woman, who made my bed and cooked breakfast and muttered Finnish wisdom to herself over the electric stove.

It was lonely for a day or so until one morning some man, more recently arrived than I, stopped me on the road.

“How do you get to West Egg village?” he asked helplessly.

I told him. And as I walked on I was lonely no longer. I was a guide, a pathfinder, an original settler. He had casually conferred on me the freedom of the neighborhood.

In particular, I think this is exactly how people feel the first time they can answer a question in an open source community for the first time. A switch is flipped, a Rubicon is crossed. They are no longer new, and now they are in a space which belongs, at least in part, to them.

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