5 Reasons to Keep Contributing to Open-Source Projects
Bekah Hawrot Weigel
If you participated in Hacktoberfest this year, congratulations! You survived one of the biggest months in onboarding new open-source contributors. Even if you didn’t get your four pull requests in, you should still be proud of the work that you did to increase your activity in open-source projects. And the good news is that even though it’s not Hacktoberfest anymore, you can still contribute to OSS; you’re just getting started. In fact, there are a lot of reasons to continue contributing to open-source, and here are five of them.
Why You Should Contribute To Open-Source Projects
Builds Your Developer Resume
This one can be really important for early career developers looking for a junior developer role. With an oversaturation of developers looking for their first role, who often have very similar resumes, projects, and experience, it’s important to stand out. Open-source contributions demonstrate some important skills:
Your ability to work on projects that are not your own;
Your communication skills with open source maintainers;
How well you follow contribution guidelines;
Your technical skills, including your commit messages, pull requests, and code comments.
Improves the Tech Industry
One of the great things about open-source projects is that they often improve the overall tech industry. If you’re contributing to a project that’s widely used, you’re helping to ensure that the software is stable, is able to grow with the needs of the community, or is secure. And for many, this reduces the costs of developing new projects. It also supports open-source maintainers by decreasing their workload, and allowing them to cultivate relationships with contributors who may go on to become part of the core team of the project.
Expands Your Developer Community
If you’re working independently, remotely, or don’t have many or positive interactions with your teammates, you might not feel a sense of belonging or like you’re a part of a community. Getting involved in open-source provides another avenue to be a part of a tech community. With many thriving open-source communities, there’s a united sense of purpose by working together and also other opportunities to interact. Depending on the project, there may be a discussion board, slack or discord, live streams, and even events to chat with maintainers and other contributors. In healthy communities, there’s a willingness to grow together and to provide support to other community members.
Allows for Diversity
As efforts increase to make open source a more inclusive and welcoming space, there will be an increase in diversity in open source as well. Because it’s open to all contributors, open-source software benefits from having a variety of voices, backgrounds, and people approaching problems that impact all of the tech industry. Cultivating supportive environments allows for diversity, innovation, and opportunities for developers who have historically been minorities in the industry, increasing representation. Creating space for better representation of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic, and educational background, correlates with positive impacts on projects.
Provides a Learning Experience
Because many repositories have issues open for varying degrees of understanding, contributors can deepen their understanding of a specific technology, the architecture of a particular product, and team communication and implementation. There’s also the opportunity to work with different tech stacks to grow, learn, and thrive through hands-on coding on meaningful projects. If you’re used to coding alone, you can develop your technical and interpersonal communication skills as well.
Hacktoberfest is an exciting time of the year for OSS, but it’s not the end. Use the momentum you found during Hacktoberfest to carry you into a year of contributing to open-source software. If you had a good experience with Hacktoberfest, consider sharing it on our #discuss post. And if you need help finding a place to keep that momentum going, you can check out some of the projects we recommended in our Hacktoberfest 2022 post or add your project to our discussion post.
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