Arie Nagel (or ainigma32 on Drupal.org) is a relatively "new" face in the Drupal community (he has yet to reach his one-year anniversary on Drupal.org), but yet has already made a profound impact on our project for the better.
How? By answering the cries of fellow Drupalistas' requests for help!
Arie has done a laudable job farming the Drupal core issue queue for support requests, closing out old ones, asking for more info on unclear ones, and helping out on those that he can. His tracker page shows a nearly endless stream of helpful, courteous responses, and he shows genuine concern for making sure users find the answers they're looking for. This is a tremendous contribution to the Drupal project. Hats off to you, Arie! :D
Without spoiling the interview ahead of time, something that Arie alludes to that I can back up whole-heartedly is that helping other users with support requests is the single fastest way to skyrocket your way up the Drupal learning curve. If you don't know the answer to something, seeking out the answer for others will give you a chance to teach yourself in a very practical way (or learn from others who end up answering the person's question). And if you do know the answer, nothing cements a topic in your head more than explaining to others how to do it. Finally, even if you consider yourself a total "newbie", believe me, you still know more than someone else out there, and you are far better positioned to explain it to them in a way that makes sense.
Learn more about how to get involved in user support at the Getting Involved guide.
Here's Arie's interview where he discusses how he came to Drupal, what motivates him to help out, and some ideas for improving Drupal support in the future.
So, tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Arie Nagel, I live in Ede in the Netherlands with my wife Yvonne and our son Alex. Apart from computer stuff I'm into books (almost any genre), movies (dito) and I play a fair game of squash.
How did you find Drupal, and how did you come to love it? ;)
The first time I came across Drupal - around 2003 - it seemed way too complicated so I went with PostNuke instead (ducks for cover). The second time I was looking for a CMS to replace a Joomla site and that time Drupal and I hit it off.
By then I had a lot more PHP experience and a much clearer picture of what I wanted in a CMS and Drupal just fit the need perfectly.
The thing I love about Drupal is the transparent way it is developed and maintained. All you need to do is read a few handbook pages about the development process and before you know it some of your code ends up in this software package that is used worldwide.
I think that is way cool.
What prompted you to focus on this area of work?
I wanted to give back to the community and at the same time keep on improving my Drupal knowledge.
I chose to help out on the support requests because I believe that is where I can contribute the most (I have done some work in IT support) and also because I was shocked to see active support requests that were years old :-)
If I don't know the answer to a question I try to find out and in doing so I learn something new with (almost) every issue I work at.
How do you think we could help engage more people to take on this work as well?
I think you are on the right track when you take initiatives like these interviews. Hopefully other Drupal non-contributing users will read this and say to themselves: "Hey if that guy can do it, I can too!" And they would probably be right... :-)
Anything else you'd like to add?
I have been toying with the idea of some sort of notification system where you can register yourself as a contributor. You then specify when you are available, how many issues you can/want to handle and maybe some sort of expertise.
So when someone creates an issue the "contributor on duty" is notified and when their quota as a contributor has been met, the next available contributor is notified.
With the enormous amount of people using Drupal it should be possible to always have one or more contributors ready to jump on a new issue. I would be very interested in hearing what the community thinks about that.