DEV Community

Cover image for Why You Shouldn't Contribute To Open Source
Victor Isaac Oshimua
Victor Isaac Oshimua

Posted on

Why You Shouldn't Contribute To Open Source

When a metric becomes a target, it ceases to be a good metric. - Goodhart's law

Open source is undoubtedly one of the backbones of modern technology. It is widely recognised as the gateway to employment for new tech enthusiasts, as it offers opportunities for collaboration, skill showcasing, and skill-building in real-world scenarios.

However, you shouldn't engage in open source solely for the purpose of securing a job. Yes, that's right. You might be wondering why.
Don't worry; sit back, relax, and grab a coffee as I share my thoughts with you.

Image description

The Problem

As someone passionate about open source, I've noticed something: many newcomers are eager to get involved too. While this isn't a bad thing, I've observed that some contributors, especially those new to programming, are submitting subpar work. This flood of mediocre contributions is making it tough for project maintainers.

This occurs mainly because newbie developers perceive open source contributions as the golden ticket to securing a job or gaining recognition in the tech industry.

These are my opinions, so please take them with a grain of salt. However, I have found some posts on Twitter that resonate with my ideas.

Image description

The observations made by the poster about newbies in open source clearly resonate with what I have observed as well.

The solution.

Newcomers in tech should prioritise acquiring foundational knowledge first. They should focus on building their programming skills and working on relevant projects. It's essential for them to learn how to utilise open-source tools effectively. Along the way, they are likely to encounter bugs and issues with these tools. This is an opportunity for them to consider contributing to the open-source community. Contributions can include reporting bugs or issues encountered.
My primary advice is to begin by opening issues before creating pull requests to address them. Opening issues demonstrates that you've gained experience and familiarity with the open-source tools.

Newcomers should approach open source with a mindset focused on learning, growth, and genuine engagement with the project's goals. By prioritising learning and skill development over immediate rewards, contributors can make meaningful contributions that benefit both the project and the community.

Closing remarks

In conclusion, open source offers opportunities for skill development and community engagement. However, to truly leverage its potential, we must prioritise quality, integrity, and a dedication to continuous improvement. For those aspiring to secure employment through open source contributions, my advice is simple: master the tools, build projects, contribute meaningfully by addressing issues, and then target companies that utilise these open source technologies. Your journey in the tech industry begins with a commitment to learning and growth. Feel free to share your thoughts, and remember, happy coding!

Top comments (2)

theaccordance profile image
Joe Mainwaring

After reading through the entirety of your post, I have to respectfully disagree with the premise.

First and foremost, we should never discourage up-and-coming programmers from participating if they understand the project. That's counter-productive towards the long term viability of the OSS community.

What you've described isn't exclusive to the open source community; these are collaboration problems. Collaboration solutions exist, some examples:

  • Requiring a CLA (good filtration tool)
  • Implementing tools to enforce code quality standards
  • Writing better documentation

There are smarter ways to solve this than to discourage new programers.

cyber_holics profile image
Victor Isaac Oshimua

Well, my post is not to discourage new programmers from open source contributions but to emphasise building relevant skills first.