I’ve been using Ubuntu off and on for quite a while now. My first distro was Gutsy (before then I was mostly using Debian). Over the last year or so, I’ve become increasingly involved with the community, and I’ve learned about Ubuntu Membership.
Ubuntu Members are people who are actively involved in the community, and have made a “significant and sustained” contribution to the community. The wiki suggests that you should have been active for a couple of months before applying, but I’ve noticed that most people wait a lot longer than that.
One person recently welcomed as a member, Alan Bell, made an interesting post to the Ubuntu-UK mailing list about his involvement in the community, and the path to membership. You can read this on Amber’s blog, along with her thoughts about membership.
Alan makes a good point that membership is a way of you fellow members recognizing that you are contributing to the community. Membership can be earned in a number of ways; by helping your fellow users, promoting Ubuntu and other F/LOSS projects, bug triaging, translation, art and design. If you use Ubuntu and want to help the project grow, there’s probably something that will suit your skills. In my opinion, the hardest part of earning membership is documenting the things that you’re doing on the wiki page, and plucking up the courage to ask your friends in the Ubuntu community for sponsorship!
I’m considering applying to become an Ubuntu Member at some point next year, although I may follow the developer’s MOTU process instead. Becoming a MOTU automatically means that you’re a member, so if I can get a handle on packaging and the Ubuntu process for that sort of thing, it’s an appealing route.
I’ve seen a lot of people coming in to #ubuntu-bugs and #ubuntu-motu on Freenode and asking how they can get given membership. My question to people who are so desperate to become a member is “why?”. There are very few privileges attached to becoming a member, so it’s not as if you need the status to be able to contribute to the Ubuntu project.
If you’re a new developer, then your initial uploads will need checked and sponsored, and once you’ve proven that you’re reliable, your sponsor will probably suggest that you apply for MOTU status. Bug triagers have a similar route with BugSquad (that doesn’t grant membership, AFAIK, but showing that you’ve worked on bug triaging for a sustained period will probably help). For other work, you can do it all without having a fancy name tag. After all, you’re doing it because you love the OS, right?