There are many ways you can contribute to the WordPress project. You can make translations, help other users out at the forums, or submit bugfixes to the WordPress repository. One (rather easy) way is often overlooked. You can also contribute by testing and beta-testing new WordPress releases. This way you can try out new features before they get released to the public! In this short guide I'll show you how you can participate.
Will this break my site?
It can. When you are testing (or just using) new releases you must understand that you're also testing for bugs that haven't been found yet. That might sound obvious, but it's important to keep in mind. Or to better state this: don't run beta/testing versions on a live website that is not intended for testing purposes! So, always make sure you have a backup ready. And have I mentioned yet you shouldn't try this on your live website yet? ;-)
How do I get started?
Now, this is a easy one. All you have to do is use the WordPress plugin called WordPress Beta Tester created by Peter Westwood. You can install it directly from your dashboard or download it manually and upload via FTP. Once the installation has been completed you can activate it, and let the testing madness commence.
I've installed the plugin. Now what?
Congratulations! You're almost done. Right now you need to specify what versions you want to be running. You can do this by going to Tools and select Beta Testing. Once you've decided if you want to run the Point release nightlies or the Bleeding edge nightlies you can get the beta updates through the regular updating process.
If you happen to find a bug you can report it so it can get fixed. The best way to do that is described in the Handbook.