Open-source contributions. It is good enough.

Ever since I finished my Outreachy Internship, I have been contributing to several open-source projects here and there.  Even so, whenever I was asked on if I am currently contributing to any open-source project I often said no. I said no not because I wanted to be dishonest, but because at that specific point I felt what I contributed was insignificant. Can you imagine?

open-source code on laptop screen

I decided to reflect my contributions in a reverse motion and think of how far I have come in this past year.

An open-source  journey

 

Add Authentication (user accounts) with Devise

As I was doing the rail girls training in the first Rail Girls Athens workshop I noticed a link on the manual is not working. My initial gut action was, report the bug! Then I thought… “Wait, I know how to contribute to open source and I know how to fix it. How about I try to do so.”
This is an interesting way to contribute, finding something buggy while you are using something and realizing it might be something you can fix, then going ahead to fix it and see how it goes.

–  Added List Delete Example

I applied to attend the first local Django girl workshop in Athens. I did not get selected however I did not let that stop me from doing the tutorial, I did it myself then found a piece in the tutorial that I thought would be better explained with some examples. So I decided to contribute to it.
Improving already existing projects is cool too.

Swag I got from participating in hacktoberfest 2015 an open-source initiation.
Swag I got from participating in hacktoberfest 2015.

– Learn X in Y minutes : Fixing some typos sample contribution

Last year I wanted to take part in Hacktoberfest, I was trying to find ways to get started. I notice the Learn X in Y minutes had some documentation in Greek language however, there were a few typos. I decided to fix several of them. Do you know a unique language? Maybe you can help an open-source project in close captioning, documentation, or translation.

– Adding Consistency: Hugo

Sometimes contributing is not overly complicated, things such as adding consistency to a documentation can be very beneficial as it makes it easier to read.

– Drop code, add, fix, rebuild: Airmozilla

Airmozilla is a product/project that I hold dear to my heart as that is the product I worked on during my first internship and the team/mentor I worked with are just awesome. Merging code into it is always refreshing, but to be able to contribute code understanding the code base and the language used is key. I remember when I started contributing code there were many times where I had merge conflicts. That was something I dreaded because fixing them looked like conducting an intricate operation. Merge conflicts can be hard to master but worth the effort.

– Contribution leading to Discussion: DWYL (Do What You Love)

Sometimes you might contribute a fix, and get to know people that want to hear more about things that you would like to see in their project. That can turn into a very interesting discussion.

– Improving diversity: Diversity – Index

Sharing information with others enables them to know about opportunities they could be a part of.

– Contributing with  session

In November 2015 I did a session called “Getting started with open source contributions” at MozFest 2015. Prior to that, I would not have thought of being able to do such a thing. I always felt I did not have enough knowledge. I am not fully sure if that was impostor syndrome or just low self-confidence in my technical abilities, however no matter how I felt I gave it a go and it went exceptionally well. That is another way to contribute to open-source.

– You do big things and learn how to collaborate: Airmozilla

Looking back at where I started Mozilla, I clearly remember why I choose it as a project to contribute. It was not due to me using it as a product (I did not know what it was about before using it), but more of it seeming like an interesting product that I would love to contribute to. It used technologies I had some basic coding knowledge on, to begin with, and others that I wanted to learn.
My greatest challenge:  When starting to contribute to open-source, my greatest challenge was knowing where and how to start contributing. However, Airmozilla was a well documented/maintained product and that made contributing less of a hassle.

What I learned from my work: Aside from Django, Python, and all the technical stuff,  I learned that I was capable of contributing new features to an existing project, even though the learning curve could be huge and distance sometimes can make the learning curve wider.

What problem did my contribution solved: My contribution made it easier for users to identify related events/videos to the current one they are viewing faster. Thus increasing their engagement and making their search easier. You can find more about it in detail here.

 

What I hope for the future of my open-source contributions is that I find the balance of getting started without that being as challenging every single time. I also want to see my programming skills improve more, as much as my knowledge of how several software systems work.

Working on Airmozilla through Outreachy opened several doors for me. It equipped me with skills that I used to get other opportunities.

 

Whatever we contribute to making an open-source project better is good enough.

The more I learn and blog about, the more I am able to use that experience to help one person at a time.

P.S – All underlined text are links.

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