I had breakfast with Jon Trowbridge (of Beagle fame) last weekend. One of the things we talked about was contributing to open source. It was a refreshing and eye-opening conversation. People want to contribute but don’t know where to start. There is this vast amount of software, plenty of bugs or missing features, but where do you begin?
We don’t have enough time in the day to do all of the things we’d like but we tend to waste a minute here or there reading Penny Arcade or Google News or whatever. By themselves they don’t seem like much but add them up and you might be surprised how much time you’ve wasted.
So, I issue a challenge to everyone on Planet, one that doesn’t require the ability to code (but if you possess such ability, use it). Pick an application you commonly use and find it’s bugzilla. Bookmark it if necessary. Once a day pull it up while you’re surfing and skim through it. See one that looks familiar or interesting? Confirm it, reproduce it, and add details to it. It helps confirm that there is a problem and helps to track down the bug. Developers appreciate this, trust me.
If you can write code and you see one that you think you can fix, give it a try. No patch is too small. If you fix it, attach the patch and add yourself to the CC list. You’ll get a nice notification when someone responds to your patch and you can feel good about yourself for contributing and maybe fixing something that’s been annoying a user for months.
For as little as five minutes a day (okay, so I sound like Sally Struthers) you too can be a part of what makes open-source great. See your name in lights (or just plain text).
2005-10-25 Larry Ewing
* src/FlickrRemote.cs: Integrate patch from Adam Israel it quote
tag names with spaces in them.
Ordinary users to complain when something doesn’t work, rightly so. Be an extra-ordinary user and do something about it.