The recent O'Reilly article Trust and Zeal in Open Source advocacy caught my eye, and it comes along at a time when I am pondering the topic of participation in Free/Open Source Software. Sure, any of us can have a 6-month or 12-month spurt of productivity, but what makes for long-haul, year-in, year-out staying power?
Since I haven't done that yet, I can only speculate. Right now I would have to say that two key factors in consistent, long-term advocacy and participation are internalization and resolve. If the principles of free/open source software don't click for you, long-term participation may seem more like drudgery. Hell, even when you are passionate about this movement the work of it can be tiresome and at times thankless. So, if the ideals of free and open source software don't strike a chord with your spirit, maybe your time would be better spent elsewhere.
As for resolve, I suppose it's the same as with any long-term commitment. In spite of the hardships, the sacrifices, and yes, even at times - the boredom, you remain fixed in your commitment. You know the alternatives, and it only takes a brief pondering of them to remind you of why you made the commitment in the first place.
Huh, lots of parallels to marriage; coincidence? 8^) Open Source - the closest you will come to marriage without sex or intimacy. That's my cue to stop while I am already behind.