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Katie Raby
Katie Raby

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Open Source: Tiny Contributions, Big Impact

Open source software (OSS) is software that’s freely available to use, redistribute, and modify, typically shared via a public code repository hosting service. - Lyn Muldrow

The prospect of contributing to open source may feel daunting, or you may spend hours searching for a feature to build that perfectly fits your skill set. Sometimes by looking to make "big contributions" to a repo, or overthinking the process, you can rule yourself out and miss the opportunity to contribute at all.

Open source is for everyone, and even making tiny contributions can have a big impact.


So what's the magic of making tiny contributions?
Making a small contribution to an open source project is a great way to introduce yourself to a new repository/project, learn something new, make a first contribution, or make a change in a technology you're not so familiar with. I can promise you, it's 100% worth it!

Some examples of meaningful tiny contributions to a project may be anything from fixing broken links or adding content to documentation, to fixing an alignment issue in CSS, or deleting unused code.

Note: creating a pull request (PR) to remove whitespace, or similar, may be considered a 'spam' contribution, so please try to target meaningful contributions only. A way you can do this is to work on already open issues that have need to be fixed. If unsure, please contact the maintainer of the project to be sure 🙂


When you think of making a big impact contribution, your first thoughts might be fixing a critical bug, or implementing a major feature. However, your tiny changes can have a big impact not only on the project, but on your own personal development. For example, this could be making your first pull request to open source, or learning something new about the technology you're using.

Tiny contributions:

  • Build your confidence
  • Get you started on the journey of contributing to open source
  • Provide learning opportunities, which could be related to a certain technology, or using a new commit message convention
  • Get you involved in the open source community. During the process you may get to chat to maintainers and build relationships, or reflect on your contributions in a twitter post
  • Introduce you to setting up for contributing to a different codebase, and follow contributing guidelines
  • Allow you to make small contributions to your favourite repos
  • Fix small yet important issues - fixing that broken link may help any developer coming to read that documentation. Your contributions could have benefits for maintainers, the community and end-users to name a few!
  • Gives you the opportunity to work with new technologies you haven't used before and get exposure to new code, without committing to a large task.

From making a tiny contribution, this could give you the confidence, skills, community and experience to thrive and enjoy every contribution you make to open source - that's a huge impact! 🚀

⭐️ Get started today with making tiny contributions to open source and experience the big impact of your changes ⭐️

Planning to contribute to open source for the first time? find more information, with a step-by-step guide here.

Hacktoberfest is right around the corner! 🎃 Engaging in Hacktoberfest is a fantastic opportunity to find issues and get started in open source (and maybe even plant a tree 🌳). Special shout-out to @CockroachLabs for giving me the opportunity to make a tiny change, with big impact, being my first ever pull request to open source (Hacktoberfest 2020). 🥳

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