Open source means everyone has access to the workings of the thing at hand. I’ve learned from some of the best open source software communities with a little bit of politics sprinkled in. Some of the ways I was able to participate was through IRC, online forums, Wikis, and local Meetup groups. Most of the projects I enjoy to learn using these resources had to do with Ubuntu 5.04 (Warty Warthog) – Ubuntu 10.4 (Lucid Lynx), and Ron Paul’s campaign.
Internet Relay Chat is where the efficient people hang out. If you want an answer to your question, you first have to ask a good question. That’s probably because most times in an inactive room you’ll be talking to a scripted software robot that tells you what you want to hear. This chat protocol is used heavily by Software projects, to get feedback and help users.
To use IRC you first have to find out what Server the software or Hillary Clinton is using to host their channel. A lot of software channel’s are hosted on irc.freenode.net . My favorite client is HexChat.
Connect to that server. And join the #channel.
Forums are a good way to get more information about any topic. Pretty much any hobby or topic you can think of has a prominent online forum destination. Just do a google search for forums + your topic. Done. To search only a specific forum for a topic using google, use this:
Sites like Reddit and StackOverflow are similar to traditional online forums but are based on a voting model to push things to prominence.
Wikis are self explanatory if you know what Wikipedia is. However you probably didn’t know that successful projects all have their own ‘Wiki’. Internally to share information to maximize productivity, or externally to allow collaboration among its users with developers, and other users.
Local Meetup Groups
http://meetup.com is a good place to find groups of people meeting up around a topic. Ron Paul’s 2008 Campaign was fueled heavily by a decentralized meetup ‘army’ and I learned much about what inspires and motivates politically. Volunteering for Ron Paul and learning about Freedom and all the different arguments was fun and I still enjoy following the happenings of Ron Paul vs Government.