Getting involved in Free Software

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I frequently get the question, by mail or over social networks:

But how do I get involved in $PROJECT?

Now a common answer is 'just do it' while others often point to resources like the KDE Developers Beginners Guide and Contribute to openSUSE, or write a simple how-to for building a package. But I usually don't actually reply with links to any of those. Mostly, people have found these resources by themselves.

What they want to know now is how to, you know, actually do it! And as that question can actually be answered rather project-independent so I thought it would be useful to write it down here.

rest here