Are there any particular skills that are especially useful in a contributor?

It's easier if you have any experience of MediaWiki, the same software that is used to create Wikipedia, but it's not essential. The easy way is to look for a page that does something similar to what you want to achieve, open an edit on that page, and simply copy the formatting.

There's also a need for translators. Ideally every page should be available in every language. That's a tall order, but we have a language template that makes it easy to add translations. Many pages already have this in place, but where one's needed and not already available, a request on a Talk page should get it put in quickly. Once that's in place, it's a one-click job to bring up the edit page.

Is there a need for documentation maintainers on different parts of the project?

Not really. We have http://userbase.kde.org/UserBase/Guidelines which reminds people about licensing issues and other general issues. An outline of what should and should not be added is at http://userbase.kde.org/UserBase. The rest is pretty much common sense.

What could Linux Format readers do right now to improve the project?

Think of your favourite applications. Are there features that you didn't notice at first but are invaluable now? Add them to the Hints and Tips section at the bottom of the application page. Not many pages have this section yet, so if it's not there, add it. Just follow the formatting of the rest of the page and if you hit a problem, ask on the Talk page for that application and someone will help you.

Finally, how important do you think projects like UserBase are to KDE and free software generally?

Absolutely invaluable, if we make them so. For years it has been said that there is no easy way for non-coders to contribute. Well, here it is! Many KDE developers see UserBase as a place where developers and users can contribute equally, providing an incredible resource that uses the experience of thousands of users.

Free and open source software is not based on the idea of 'someone should do something about it' – it is our chosen world and we can make a difference.

UserBase tips

Use Wikipedia-style formatting to create your page. For instance, enclosing a piece of text in three single quote marks ('''text here''') will render the text in bold type. Look at the edit section for an existing page to see how the formatting works.

If you're unsure of something, use the Talk option to start or participate in a discussion attached to the page.

Remember to use screenshots wisely. A picture really can enlighten users much better than a long explanation (though sometimes only words will do).

Anyone can edit pages, but if you want to really get involved, create an account with the site or log in with an OpenID.

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First published in Linux Format, Issue 115

Now read 11 ways to create a successful Linux distro

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