Images in this post missing? We recently lost them in a site migration. We're working to restore these as you read this. Should you need an image in an emergency, please contact us at imagehelp@codebetter.com
Contributing to Open Source Without Committing a Line Of Code

People sometimes ask how to get involved in open source software.  In fact Scott Hanselman posted on a the subject in great detail over two years ago when detailed how you could submit a patch to an open source project.  Good intentions aside, getting involved at the source code level of a mature open source project can be quite daunting. There is a often large, hopefully active, codebase which you might not be too familiar with. Despite your sincere interest in contributing, often the startup "cost" is too great and you find that there is a sense of hopelessness in achieving that goal.  It really doesn't have to be this way.

I'd like to suggest that a great way to getting started with open source is getting involved in the mailing list for a project by answering questions posted by the community.  Nearly all, if not all, of the open source projects I use have either a forum or a mailing list associated with them.

My History in Open Source

Despite my use and open support of open source software I have to date only submitted 2.5 patches to the open source community (the 1/2 patch was me assisting in writing a RegularExpression for the developer who was actually writing the meat of the patch).  Despite my best intentions, I have yet to know an open source codebase well enough in my opinion to submit substantive contributions to the project, so I do my best to contribute in other ways.

I am currently an active participant on the RhinoMocks mailing list where I try to provide answers and guidance on RhinoMocks and testing in general.  When I made the decision to start contributing on the list, my goal was simply to beat Ayende every once in awhile to the answer...seriously, the guy is fast. As I've spent some time on the list I've become more comfortable answering questions and I've seen others jump in and help as well.  I like to think that I'm contributing to the project as a whole, if only by answering questions posed by other users of the framework. Often times, in the absence of others to assist, answering questions falls to the contributors of the project which takes away from the time they would have to further the development of the project.

If you've had a desire or an interest in getting involved and you aren't comfortable contributing via source code, think about getting involved with a project you already use and are familiar with.  Subscribe to the forum and mailing list and challenge yourself to answer a single question, then two or three. I think you'll find that the managers of these projects will be very appreciative of the help!


Posted 01-24-2009 10:53 PM by Tim Barcz

[Advertisement]

Comments

RhysC wrote re: Contributing to Open Source Without Committing a Line Of Code
on 01-25-2009 10:14 PM

Good point tim.. i think many (including myself) feel that to contribute you have to be a source code contributor, which is not always the case. Documentation is probably another place we alot of us could help. While learning an API why not jot down some notes and submit them for furture users?

I should really do that sometime .... ;)

Dew Drop - January 26, 2008 | Alvin Ashcraft's Morning Dew wrote Dew Drop - January 26, 2008 | Alvin Ashcraft's Morning Dew
on 01-26-2009 3:27 PM

Pingback from  Dew Drop - January 26, 2008 | Alvin Ashcraft's Morning Dew

Anne Epstein wrote re: Contributing to Open Source Without Committing a Line Of Code
on 01-27-2009 10:21 PM

I love this, particularly the part about list participation being a way of contribution.  It's something almost anyone can do-every bit you've learned is something you can answer a question on.  It contributes to the community as a whole, and more directly, helping out on questions saves the developers' time and energy for development, or for the difficult questions.  

buy stendra generic wrote re: Contributing to Open Source Without Committing a Line Of Code
on 02-15-2013 3:48 PM

c2BJYZ Very informative article.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.

buy clomid wrote re: Contributing to Open Source Without Committing a Line Of Code
on 02-28-2013 2:50 PM

lg0bHL Appreciate you sharing, great article.Really looking forward to read more.

buy social bookmarks wrote re: Contributing to Open Source Without Committing a Line Of Code
on 03-24-2013 8:52 PM

iPyi0r A big thank you for your blog post.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

Social bookmarks wrote re: Contributing to Open Source Without Committing a Line Of Code
on 04-19-2013 3:04 PM

sIFO16 Really informative article post.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on...

buy social bookmarks wrote re: Contributing to Open Source Without Committing a Line Of Code
on 04-28-2013 2:54 AM

Zyjsdn I am so grateful for your blog post.Really thank you! Really Cool.

awesome linkbuilding site wrote re: Contributing to Open Source Without Committing a Line Of Code
on 10-01-2013 10:40 AM

YShz2o A round of applause for your article.Thanks Again. Want more.

john wrote re: Contributing to Open Source Without Committing a Line Of Code
on 10-05-2013 10:07 PM
best link build wrote re: Contributing to Open Source Without Committing a Line Of Code
on 10-16-2013 5:25 AM

59S09g wow, awesome post.Really looking forward to read more. Cool.

crorkservice wrote re: Contributing to Open Source Without Committing a Line Of Code
on 07-18-2014 9:24 PM

Bo9NVB I am so grateful for your blog article.Really thank you! Cool.

Add a Comment

(required)  
(optional)
(required)  
Remember Me?

About The CodeBetter.Com Blog Network
CodeBetter.Com FAQ

Our Mission

Advertisers should contact Brendan

Subscribe
Google Reader or Homepage

del.icio.us CodeBetter.com Latest Items
Add to My Yahoo!
Subscribe with Bloglines
Subscribe in NewsGator Online
Subscribe with myFeedster
Add to My AOL
Furl CodeBetter.com Latest Items
Subscribe in Rojo

Member Projects
DimeCasts.Net - Derik Whittaker

Friends of Devlicio.us
Red-Gate Tools For SQL and .NET

NDepend

SlickEdit
 
SmartInspect .NET Logging
NGEDIT: ViEmu and Codekana
LiteAccounting.Com
DevExpress
Fixx
NHibernate Profiler
Unfuddle
Balsamiq Mockups
Scrumy
JetBrains - ReSharper
Umbraco
NServiceBus
RavenDb
Web Sequence Diagrams
Ducksboard<-- NEW Friend!

 



Site Copyright © 2007 CodeBetter.Com
Content Copyright Individual Bloggers

 

Community Server (Commercial Edition)