I've been involved with the Drupal Documentation team, at varying levels of time and interest, for a while now. It was my first foray to getting involved with the community and I think it is a common entry point for many "non-coders" and people that may code but are hesitant to jump into the fray of Open Source development. Even as I've been immersed in the community and code, I still have a strong draw towards documentation. I had to struggle up every inch of all of the learning curves regarding, not just Drupal code, but also the subtler "community curve." If I can splurt out 20 minutes of my day to save someone several hours of head-banging, it makes my learning that much more valuable. I know that I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am today if many others hadn't done the same for me.
Back in March 2008 at Drupalcon Boston I pulled together a rather impromptu documentation sprint, which got me really excited about a bunch of ideas. Unfortunately, other obligations, both in the good ole "real world" (silly life) and related to the O'Reilly book I was helping co-author (Using Drupal), I didn't have the time and energy to really devote what I wanted to the team. Now that the book is wrapping up (finally!) I can devote more time and energy to my first love, community documentation. I'm excited to be back in the throes of Drupal docs and working side-by-side with the cool people on the Docs team.
Some of the awesome ideas that started on that March day are finally coming around. At that sprint a small group of people kept coming back to this really cool idea of making it easier for people to figure out how to step into the stream that is the Drupal community. After many months and lots of work by lots of people we have finally birthed the new Getting Involved handbook on Drupal.org. The reason I'm excited about this is not just to have a new "cool thing," but the fact that it was a community project from its inception and, while it took some time to come to be (everyone has lives and other things to attend to), we really made it happen as a team. It really highlights an aspect of Drupal that I think many people think or talk about, but maybe don't always really dip their toe in: Drupal is more than the .tar.gz file that you download. Drupal is more than code - it is a community of people who are all trying, each in his or her own way, to make sense of and improve this neat tool that let's us do so much on the web. Drupal is not just the software; it is equally things like documentation and people answering questions in the wee hours of the morning. Hopefully this new handbook will allow more people to join in the fun and not feel that Drupal is about uber-hacker skills. (One cool way to jump in is to help us make the new handbook better. ;-))
The Documentation team has all kinds of good ideas squeezing out everywhere (check out our new group page to see what's up) and along with the Drupal.org redesign that is underway, I'm feeling like there are just too many fun and interesting things to stick my hands in right now. So, anyway, I am on a bit of a community "high" right now, but I feel like I've got good reason to be. If you aren't sure what I mean, then maybe you should check out the new handbook and dip your toe in the stream. Lots of people working together, even in 15 minute spots here and there, can make really cool things happen. It not only makes me feel like I'm part of a "big thing" but I have made real connections with real people and I've grown, as a person and as a Drupaler, through those interactions. I'm really looking forward to new things on the horizon and I am soooo excited to be neck-deep in the community again! RAWR!