Open source is cool. Most of us use at least one open source project in our daily work. Even if we don’t, the websites we visit probably do.
It’s easy to contribute to an open source project, even if you don’t write code.
This diagram shows some of the different ways to contribute.
Tweet About the Project
The easiest way to contribute to a project is to either Tweet about it to tell people that it exists, or send a Tweet to the contributors / creators. Most open source authors don’t get paid, saying thankyou is not only nice but is good encouragement for the authors to keep the project going.
Submit a Bug or Idea
Don’t like something about the way a product works? Wish it had a killer new feature? Don’t remain silent, instead head over to GitHub or CodePlex or wherever the project is hosted and create a new Issue or Bug “ticket” to tell the authors about it. Even if you think your idea may not be useful to other users, submit it anyway and let the project team decide.
Contribute Documentation or Design
Even if you’re not a programmer or you don’t have time to submit code to the project you can still help. There are some great open source projects out there, unfortunately sometimes the documentation for these projects is either non-existent, out of date, or lacking. Helping to make better documentation is a quick win for everyone.
Another contribution you can make is to the project design. Maybe you’re a graphic designer or know someone who’s an artist. Help the project team out by designing the project website CSS or by contributing a logo design. A lot of projects have limited time and so focus on the code, they don’t have time for design and logo-making. This is a great non-coding contribution to make.
Contributing code to open source projects is a great gift of our valuable time and keystrokes. We can make the products better for ourselves and others. It’s also a great opportunity to learn.
If you’re running an open source project consider creating a label for easy issues/bugs/work items that a newcomer can tackle.
Create a Project
This is a biggie. If you’ve got an idea for a project, go for it! It’s super easy to get started on GitHub or CodePlex.