As a well-known open source project, we get many requests each semester from students interested in volunteering with us. Often it is a requirement for a course that they contribute to an open source project or demonstrate some specific skill or knowledge in a real-world context. The following points will help make the experience volunteering with the OpenOffice project a good one for all:
Let us know what you are trying to accomplish. Do you need to volunteer a specific number of hours? Weeks? Enough to write up a report? When do you need to have this done? Next week? Or three months from now? The more you let us know what your goal is the better we can recommend appropriate tasks for you to work on.
Similarly, let us know what skills you have. C++? Technical writing? Translation? Communications? Graphic design?
For example, an ideal query might be, "I am a 3rd year computer science student. I have 1 year experience with C++. I need to contribute to an open source project for the duration of this semester (ending in May). I was hoping I could help with QA, maybe 2 hours a week for this time."
Be patient and don't be deterred if your initial notes are not responded to immediately. We're a community of volunteers, spread through many time zones. Many of us have "day jobs" or otherwise work on OpenOffice only part time.
In general, it takes longer to become productive with the programming side of OpenOffice than with the QA, translation or marketing areas. Keep this in mind if you will be volunteering only for a short period of time (less than a month or two).
We cannot offer any formal grade or evaluation of a student's contributions, but your contributions will be public, on our mailing lists and other tools, so your professor can easily verify your work.
If your class will be having multiple students wanting to volunteer at the same time, please have your professor contact us in advance, so we can understand the course requirements and have time to prepare of some appropriate tasks.