> 1. Motivate more users to be volunteer developers? Any idea how
> to do that?
Something that seems important to mention about Emacs is how amazingly
and brilliantly helpful the user community is. I can mention a few
people like Kai, Pascal, Stefan, Thien-Thi in particular (along with
others) who took it upon themselves to essentially teach me and I
don't know how many others - how to program. In Lisp. This is a huge
gift and highly motivating -- and exciting. "Thanks" is not enough!
Other vital ingredients to the learning process: the source code, the
documentation, the interpreter, etc.... and many many people have
contributed to that.
More recently, I've had the opportunity to compare the Emacs community
with the Drupal community, and let me tell you, Emacs is *amazing* for
learners, whereas Drupal still makes my eyeballs spin in my head.
Figuring out how to get help with Drupal is an art form in itself.
With Emacs, the help part seems to "just work" -- or, it has in the
past. If we were to lose that (e.g. due to endless discussions in
which not a single s-exp is uttered, this one included), that would be
sad. Maybe this is one reason to at least *be able* to operate a mail
client in Emacs (if only to use it for discussions about code).
As for "contributing code back to Emacs"... I did in fact sign papers
for FSF, and I posted this and that little snippet to
gnu-emacs-sources over the years. I don't think any of them made it
into Emacs. I still find this aspect of things slightly confusing,
and I think some improvements in "workflow" may be in order.
I also pointed out bugs, and those were usually fixed - so kudos for
that (this part of the workflow seems to work well). Maybe it's at
least *technically* easier to contribute these days (using bzr for the
core code, and contributions via package.el/Marmalade) - I haven't
Anyway: just like it doesn't make sense to expect people to develop
good code without a debugger (something that became increasingly clear
working on Drupal code), it doesn't make sense to ask people to
contribute code at all without reasonably clear pathways for doing so.
And since there's TONS of stuff out there already -- even just
getting a handle on what's already been contributed seems like hard
work! -- this itself would be something worth contributing to.
Screenshots are good (http://www.flickr.com/groups/emacs/), the Emacs
Wiki is maybe "good enough"?
To sum up: a well-trained Emacs user is likely to be a contributor,
ready to jump through hoops, roll over, and beg for their dinner...
but only when it's clear how to do that.