Blacklight is a collaborative open source project by developers at various institutions, which we each work on largely motivated by our own local institutions' needs. We work on the shared project together so we can benefit from each other's code, but most developers primary priorities are to their own local development. In this it is like many such projects.
The Blacklight developers do want to create a product that is easy for newcomers to install and get started with -- both as a service to the community and in the interests of our own institutions in creating a sustainable project and product that continue to thrive through personnel changes. However, the developers may not always have time to find or fix bugs that may be affecting you, or lead you through every detail of getting Blacklight to work for you.
But we do try when we can -- please don't be scared to ask a question on the listserv, just don't be shocked if we can't always give you the answer you want. We always welcome patch submissions; and we are always excited to hear about what others are doing with Blacklight. We're also always looking for more committers, although we usually like to see a patch or two before considering granting committer status.
Some guides are available in the wiki, including installation instructions: https://github.com/projectblacklight/blacklight/wiki
Not all wiki pages may be listed on the wiki home page, be sure to check the list of all wiki pages too.
We hope the wiki documentation will continue to expand and improve. If you figure something out that wasn't already in the wiki, please feel free to edit or add a wiki page on it to help those who come after you. If there's something you think needs documenting but you aren't sure you understand it well enough to document it, feel free to add a note to that effect in the wiki too, as a stub.
Auto-generated code-level API documentation is available at: http://rdoc.info/github/projectblacklight/blacklight. (As of the time of this writing 28 dec 2010, we're having trouble getting this to include all classes in Blacklight, but jrochkind is working on it.)
The blacklight listserv can be found at: http://groups.google.com/group/blacklight-development.
Searching the archives might be helpful.
Don't be scared to ask a question on the list. We appreciate you checking the documentation first and asking an educated question, but don't beat your head against the wall -- sometimes the existing documentation may be out of date and inaccurate.
In order to reduce spam, the first time you post your email will be held in a moderation queue, but as soon as your first message is approved your posts won’t be held for moderation any longer. (Is this really true on the google groups hosted list? Not sure.)
Some Blacklight developers hang out on our IRC channel, usually during North American office hours. On chat.freenode.net, channel #blacklight. Stop in and say hi, we're happy to help with questions when we have time. http://freenode.net/faq.shtml