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Best way to help a maintainer?

For a few packages in extras I've filed bugs, made patches and build rpms locally to fix bugs, upgrade versions or see if rebuilds are all that is required to get packages working again.

It is obvious that some (all!) maintainers are busy, that is fair enough, we all have "day jobs" that will get priority, but sometimes it's frustrating to have helped out (only a tiny bit) and yet it doesn't lead to an updated package becoming available.

I'm not talking about situations where a packages needs "rescuing" by having a new maintainer, A) who's to say that new is better, B) I don't want to seem ungrateful for the work of the maintainers.

In general, what is the best way to see if any patch/upgrades that I think are beneficial, are really the whole story, i.e. will work on multiple arches, won't confuse the build system and are not retrograde changes?

As a non-maintainer, is it possible to do this all locally, is plague required, can we have access to the build system, just to be able to test out patches up to the point where it possible to hand it back to the maintainer, as a hopefully simple option for them to verify and commit it?

I suppose I'm asking is the situation, one package, one maintainer, one bottleneck?

Andy "I only want to help, don't take this as a complaint" Burns.

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