Everybody can contribute

Community Feb 18, 2021

Contributing to OpenSource software is one thing everybody can do. If you wanted to contribute to some OpenSource project, but never started, this blog may be for you. It is about my contributions in various forms and why I think: "Everybody can contribute" and support the OpenSource community.

Where to start?

Some of you may have thought about contributing, but never started, because it wasn't obvious where to start. Some projects like Fedora provide guidelines, articles and motivation to support the development and interact with developers. Other projects just tease, that "it is ok to help" or "others have contributed" at some point in the docs. Some others don't mention, that they need help.

All of them will be happy to get some help and improvements. The best point to start contributing is wherever you like. Choose a software or project you like and check what can be done. If you think something can be improved, just start doing it.

That does not mean, you should blindly open pull requests to a project. It is recommended to get in touch with the people and talk about the problem. This can be done in several ways. You can open an issue and describe your request, you can chat with the folks, you can write a mail to the developer. This way, you will ensure that everybody has some context.

You should also ensure to read coding guidelines or community guides carefully, if present.

Am I good enough?

There are many questions like "Am I good enough?", "Does the developer want me to...?", "I just learned to code, is it ok to get in touch with...?". The answer to all of these questions is: "Yes!".

When I started my first contribution for a small project, I wasn't even sure that it will accept my contribution, since I was reaaaaally new to Linux and OpenSource Software in general. I opened an issue, described my request as good as I could and even put some hand drawn graphics in it.

Some days later, the only developer asked me to write the code, since he had no time. So I just learned a bit python and read the source code already existing. I asked him a lot... really. Review after review I adjusted my code. In the end (3 months later), I just implemented my very first code contribution.

I learned so much during this time. Every time somebody states "Hey, I am quite new... I just learned...", I have to think of this time. If you are willing to learn something and refine your code according to the developers' guideline, you will have an awesome time.

But I cannot code?

That's no problem! Many projects do need different support.

You can test the software and open proper bug reports or request new features in a meaningful way. You can write articles on a blog or comment the same.

Ever wondered that there are people answering questions or helping other users? This is contribution, too. Have you seen people sharing blogs, release notes or just their experience? That's also contribution. You can help organize meetup groups or participate in events. You can start making videos or music or graphics.

Conclusion

Contributing to OpenSource projects is easy and can be done from everybody. Just start supporting your loved project, and you will see, they will be happy to get you onboarded.

Tags

Daniel Schier

Just a guy doing stuff. Mostly #FLOSS like #Linux, #Ansible, #Podman, #K8s, #Python, #Nextcloud or whatever comes next.

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