It’s a community.
No, really. I’ve been following, however loosely, the development of Jono Bacon’s new book, The Art of Community. I would like to read it when it comes out, and it made me think about the Ubuntu community and how it’s helped me grow as a person.
I was slow to “get into” the Ubuntu community. I started with the fourms; then sort of started getting involved with the IRC channels; and then finally moved onto actually contributing through looking at, attempting to fix, and reporting bugs.
Contributing is easy. Bascally, try to be helpful; offer solutions for things you know how to do (basic commands, advice, simple sound solutions, etc). That’s what i do. I try to apply the rules of LinuxChix: “Be Polite; Be Helpful.” It’s worked for me in many situations.
The community is a really nice place to hang out, whether you’re on the fourms, in the IRC rooms, or working through bug reports. I’ve met some really nice people through all of these avenues as well as identi.ca.
I haven’t really ran into any trouble with the Ubuntu community. The only time I had any issue at all was in #ubuntu-offtopic when I was on dial-up. gamerchick02 is my handle on IRC, and one of the (presumably male) participants in the discussion claimed that I “wasn’t a REAL gamer because I was on dial-up”. I decided not to correct him and left the room. I wasn’t feeling like drama that day, so I didn’t deal with it. Not necessarily the best way to deal with it, but it worked. I don’t even remember the guy who did it.
Anyway, if you’re running Ubuntu (or some variant thereof) give the community a shot. It’s a good resource for information, help and general discussion.