How To Contribute To The Open Source Community?

How To Contribute To The Open Source Community?

Hey, what’s up, John Sonmez from
I got a question about open source. This question is from—I think it’s Saqib and he says,
“Hi John, I recently started watching your videos thanks to my country unblocking YouTube.”
Well that’s good. “Your videos are right on the spot for me and I’m using them to
direct my career. My question is, how can I contribute to open source software community?
Everything I think of is already there. I think participating in open source community
is the best way I can polish my skills but I just can’t figure out how to start. Regards,
Saqib.” This is actually a lot simpler than what you
think. You don’t have to create your own project. You don’t have to have some unique
idea. I mean if you have one that’s great, but you don’t have to do that. Instead,
the best way to get started is to start contributing to someone else’s thing, right? Pick something,
either something that you’re already using that’s open source and start following that.
First, start off by following. Understand what’s going on. Look at the open source
repository I’m assuming like GitHub and watch the people checking in and what’s
being committed and checked in and see how they’re doing and see how things are operating
before you jump in. Too many people just jump in and they ask
questions, silly questions when they could observe for a little bit. It’s always good
to observe before you do anything, before you make any kind of action rather than just
trying to jump in or asking questions because by observing you’re going to understand
a lot, so observe some of the repositories for the open source software that you’re
interested in, that you’re possibly interested in contributing to. Then after a while figure
out where—this is one good strategy, I think, that is going to get you in a lot of doors
is figure out where the stuff that needs to be done but no one wants to do, that no one
ever complains when you sweep the floor, right? They might not let you behind the cash register
and they might not let you do the—get on the sales floor and sell, but I guarantee
you if you want to go in and sweep the floor for free, they’re going to let you do that
because no one wants to do that or wash the dishes. Hey, if you really want to get something
good, scrub the toilet. No one wants to scrub the toilet, right?
What I’m saying is, figure out the thing for that project that no one wants to do that
you know needs to be done and then don’t even ask, “Can I do it?” because when
you ask, “Can I do it?” here’s what the person in charge says, “Oh, great! Another
guy that thinks he’s going to do something and then I’m going to have to explain to
him all this stuff that needs to be done and then he’s not actually do it or he’s going
to do some crappy job and it’s going to be more work for me.”
That’s what they’re thinking because there are a lot of people that are ambitious and
eager and they want to help, but they don’t actually want to help. Instead, go and do
it. Go do the thing. Look at the code. Figure out what needs to be done. Don’t ask if
you could do it. Just say, “Look, I found this problem. I fixed this thing. I did the
thing that needed to be done. Here it is.” Do a fantastic job of it and then deliver
it. Just, “Here it is” on a golden platter, “This is what I did.” That’s going to
get you in. You do those grunt tasks, the tasks that no
one wants to do until someone asks you to do something better. That’s the best way
I would say to get in. Again, I’m giving you this advice, this is a good question because
this applies to more than open source. I think you can probably see in a lot of areas in
your life, people wonder how do they get their foot in the door, that’s how. It’s scrubbing
toilets. It’s doing the shit that no one wants to do. That’s the stuff that—when
you do it without being told and you deliver that thing, that’s the thing that gets you
in and it proves that you have work, right? Do that and you’ll be in. Once you get in
and you’re contributing to a project then maybe you could start your own project or
maybe you could go from there, but I guarantee you that’s going to get you in the door.
It’s just most people don’t want to do that. Most people don’t want to—they want
to work on the exciting parts of things first. They want to get invited. They want to have
everything handed to them, but if you’re willing to do that work then you’re going
to see the benefits from it. Anyway, good question. Thanks for emailing
me. If you have a question, email me at [email protected] If you like this channel, subscribe. Take

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

17 thoughts on “How To Contribute To The Open Source Community?

  1. I planed starting doing open-source thing next fall and this is definitely the strategy, that I'll be using.
    Thank you John!

  2. Hey John! Thanks for all the videos you make. They are a great help in guiding me in my development as a software engineer. My question is when you are learning a language and you get through the basics, how do you decide what projects to work on to increase your knowledge in that language? I have been working on learning Java for almost a year now, but it is sometimes difficult for me to decide what project I should do next to help me learn more in my language. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

  3. I've been contributing open source project (+3 years). The thing John said is exactly correct. Start with very small patch. just simply fixing typo on comment is enough.

  4. Absolute true. I face some bug in project I use from github. At first I just use some hacky workaround, but then I decided to fix it. I cloned project, fixed a bug, created an issue and made pull request. And after that maintainer merged my PR without any questions. And then I've got so much motivation that I could work whole week on it, it was unforgettable feeling. Especially when you go to master branch and see YOUR code there. Maaan, this is one of the best things in your life – your first contribute to OS project which used by other people!

  5. Great news to all open source project owners, as announces a collaboration and partnership with, a platform that's pays individuals for contributing to open source project; to provide support to independent open source projects and their developers through steem blockchain(steem)

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  6. I have an open source android project anyone can work on. Feel free to star, fork and PR! 🙂

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