Andy Lester started the “14 Ways” view of projects with: 14 Ways to Contribute to Open Source without Being a Programming Genius or a Rock Star.
Andy opened with:
Open source software has changed computing and the world, and many of you would love to contribute. Unfortunately, many people are daunted by what they imagine is a high barrier to entry into a project. I commonly hear people say that they’d love to contribute but can’t because of three reasons:
- “I’m not a very good programmer.”
- “I don’t have much time to put into it.”
- “I don’t know what project to work on.”
There are three core principles to remember as you look for opportunities to contribute:
- Projects need contributions from everyone of all skills and levels of expertise.
- The smallest of contributions is still more than none.
- The best project to start working on is one that you use already.
The most damaging idea that I’ve observed among open source newbies is that to contribute to open source, you have to be some sort of genius programmer. This is not true. Certainly, there are those in the open source world who are seen as rock stars, and they may certainly be genius programmers. However, the vast majority of us are not. We’re just people who get stuff done. Sometimes we do a little, and sometimes we do a lot. Sometimes it’s programming, and sometimes it’s not.
Most of what makes open source work is actual work, time spent making things happen for the project. Most of these things don’t require the brains or vision of a Larry Wall, creator of Perl, or a David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Rails. Designing a new language or a web framework may take inspiration, but the rest of what makes projects like Perl and Rails successful is perspiration. This work may not get all the glory, but it’s still necessary, and after a while, your contributions will get noticed.
What other projects merit a “14 Ways” post?