It has been more than a year now since I've started contributing to Open Source and I can say, the journey has been very delightful 💖
As a GitHub Campus Expert and a Mozilla Rep, the most asked question that I've come across is, "How do I contribute to Open Source?". I've been in quite a few meetups and conferences, sometimes even as a speaker and talked about "How to get started contributing to open source", "How to use Git and GitHub" and other such topics; but one thing people ask me very rarely, is "Why should we even contribute to Open Source?", maybe they already know the answer or they don't ask it that often however, here's what I think why one should do it!
I was introduced to Open Source, or more precisely, Linux in the freshmen years in college. The idea at that time was, one who uses Linux in their daily lives, is one hell of a Computer Science geek and that is who we should be too! Quite a bit overrated statement, but that however got the ball rolling for me and I soon switched to Linux against all the odds and comfort of Windows (which I had been using my entire life till that point).
Curiosity se badh kar koi teacher nahi (Curiosity is the Best Teacher)
Using Linux was the point when I learnt that windows too used linux for their servers and this was in fact the most used OS for servers for almost everything in the world that requires running a server and that it was not owned by one company but was rather maintained by people from all over the world! How amazing is that! People from all over the world, making a software together for free, for everyone to use however they wanted to!
As computer science engineers, we're taught to learn the skill to write code for which we get paid, that's all they really tell us! But there's so much more to it than that! Imagine you write a piece of code that changed someone's life, gave someone the ability to walk, to write, to see even! Beautiful right? ✨
That is why one should contribute to Open Source! For the greater good, for the love of it and for the community! Now you might say, "That sounds all sparkles and glitters Vishal, but how does it help us? I mean, after all we cannot live our entire life doing things for free can we?". Well, you'd be surprised to know that open source contributors have some of the most well paid jobs in the industry. That's because:
- Contributing to an open source project helps to improve it based on real-world experience and proven, working solutions
- Contributing to an open source project helps you gain a much deeper knowledge about the software
- Contributing to open source project helps your reputation and can leverage your career
- Contributing to open source projects you are using in your projects lets you better deal with potential risks and plan for the future
- Contributing to open source projects is fun and gives you personal satisfaction
All those sum to an experience which one can hardly get through traditional schooling! You could be the next Maintainer of Debian, the next to be added to the Mozilla Credits page or even the next open source inspiration this world needs right now 🚀
Contributing to Open Source has not only been as something I wanted to do for the love of it, but also something that helped me grow career-wise. The best part of being part of open source is the community!
Open Source People are the best kind of People 💙
As a student, being involved in Open Source has been overwhelmingly rewarding for me. Starting from life long friends to mentors, I've got them all throughout this journey, and this only keeps getting better!
Getting involved can be quite intimidating and overwhelming in the beginning. Finding the right project, the right community, the right way and so on! You could actually fall into this loop of overthinking and end up never doing it 😫
Nothing to worry about, we've all been there 😌
It's always the first step :)
To help make your first step easier, try completing this fun activity: GitInit 💜
Next, if you're using GitHub, I suggest that you checkout the Explore Tab to find out projects of your choice where you can contribute! Every good open source project would have well laid out
Code of Conduct.md file, these files tell us how we can contribute to the project and various other important details that we need to know, read them carefully before you jump into making contributions! The Open Source Guides talks about all the aspects of Open Source, I highly encourage you to give it a read.
You also don't have to be technically sound to contribute to Open Source! There are a lot of amazing projects and developers whom you can buy a coffee and show your support 😄
Checkout the GitHub Sponsors Community 🚀
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If you've made it this far, I hope you make too do your part for Open Source soon! Thanks for the read 💛
Until next time,