Contributing to Open Source

As a quick precursor, every day I have the privilege of using open source software and you do too. Open source refers to an app, software, platform, codebase that shares their source code with the public allowing developers to study and contribute to that code base. Most mainstream coding languages are open source and WordPress itself is an open source project. It is an amazing convention that enables the rate at which web development evolves.

This past weekend I attended a Hacker Hours Meetup event here in NYC.  A group of 20 to 30 developers were presented 5 potential open source projects to make a contribution to. One of the projects was which is an application that provides coding challenges in over 30 programming languages. The tool was actually introduced to me earlier this year and I knew from personal experience that it was pretty great.

Under those circumstances I figured contributing to an application I have used would be a nice way to reciprocate. This was my first open source contribution, other than some minor merges to the Flatiron School’s online learning platform, so I was not expecting to do anything to impactful. As I glanced through the Github repository I saw some reported issues and the documentation around making a contribution.

I was overwhelmed. I spent 20 minutes looking into issues to realize the issue had already been resolved or perhaps was too convoluted for me to tackle. Eventually I saw a report of a broken link — easy enough.

I used a broken link checker tool to see if there were more broken links or if the links resided in a template that was being used for several pages. By the end of it I had made a few pull requests and was happy with my day.

A few days later, a friend I made at the Meetup sent me a screenshot from a blog post by Katrina Owen, who wrote were she thanked me for fixing a bunch of broken links! Having the author of application publicly thank you for your first open source contribution is pretty cool. The full post is here.

There was a hackday in New York, First-Time Open Source Contributor Workshop, and we got some great contributions. Leonardo Castillo submitted a completely new exercise and Saied Abbasi found a bunch of broken links.