5 things I learned from my first open source contribution


When the pandemic hit and lockdown started, I finally found the time to work on an open source contribution I had at the back of my mind for some time. Even though I had written open source documentation as part of my job for over 2 years, going out there and proposing a code change for a project whose members I didn’t know was very much out of my comfort zone.

My talk is a reflection on this open source contribution, sharing lessons learned, but also sharing advice and resources for those looking to start contributing to open source projects. I’ve summed this up into 5 points:

Contribute to something you care about.

  • How to find something you care about.
  • Take part in open source initiatives and events.

Having mental space and support is important.

  • Contributing is great, but not at the expense of all your free time and mental health.
  • Give yourself the time to learn about the new project.
  • How to find the time to contribute.

How to communicate with people you’ve never met.

  • Why communication is important and how it can go wrong.
  • Learn about community practices.
  • Be mindful of how you write issues and comments.

Ask for help if you need it.

  • How to find help when you’re stuck.
  • How to acknowledge someone’s help.

Open source contributions are valuable.

  • Looking at the impact your change has on the community.
  • How to use contributions as part of your professional portfolio.
  • Conference: Write the Docs Australia
  • Year: 2020

About the speaker

Andrea Szöllössi