Open Source Advice

Find your passion. Contribute to it. Brand yourself.

Jessica Thornsby

Chris Aniszczyk has posted his advice on getting involved in open source, under the mantra of “Find your passion. Contribute to it. Brand yourself.”

He advises finding a project you are passionate about, to ensure you’ll put in the maximum amount of effort, especially at first when it is necessary to build relationships with other members of the open source community. Open source projects can certainly be time-consuming and challenging, and Aniszczyk is spot-on that being passionate about a project, is crucial to how much effort you put in.

To find your perfect open source project, he recommends browsing forges.

Another way to dive into the world of open source, is to find yourself a mentor. Some open source projects run formal mentoring programs, which Aniszczyk is a fan of – he even suggests emailing project leads and asking them if they would mind acting as you mentor. He reveals that this is how he himself become evolved in Eclipse.

The other avenue he suggests going down is simple: contribute. Bug fixes, testing, and helping with documentation are all good ways to work yourself into the open source community. This pro-active approach will also help you discover areas and roles within the project, which you’re particularly suited to. Certainly, getting stuck into an open source project, is the best way to get noticed and to learn. Getting an Ohloh account is also on Aniszczyk’s list. This network allows developers to keep track of their code contributions.

Perhaps his most unusual advise, is to “brand yourself.” Due to the open nature of the open source ecosystem, he stresses that your image, as a developer, is very important. He counsels avoiding negativity at all costs, even when criticising, and acquiring a blog, twitter and LinkedIn accounts, a website and perhaps a slideshare account, so other members of the open source community have access to you. He claims that this has the beneficial side-affect of getting you in a more “open” mindset, benefiting the community you’re trying to work your way into. Networking at meetups and conferences is also a smart move in Aniszczyk’s eyes. This seems to be sound advise: all the ‘top’ Eclipse committers are visible, accessible people.

“In the end, I think it’s all about finding the right open source community to act as an outlet for your passion,” he summarises – and it’s difficult to argue with him.

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