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BekahHW for OpenSauced

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Take the First Step: the Open Source Game

There's been a lot of talk recently about how to get into open source. I think part of the challenge of breaking into open source is overthinking it.

We need to reframe how we think about starting with contributing. Getting started with open source can feel intimidating, but it's just like learning a new game with complex rules. You wouldn't jump straight into a game without reading the instructions. In the same way, you shouldn't overwhelm yourself with open source. Take it step-by-step.

Step 1: Reading the Rulebook (Understanding Basics)

Think of it like mastering a new strategy board game. First, you'd read the rules and understand the basic mechanics. In open source, this is like reading the project's README or CONTRIBUTING files. The rulebook guides you on how to play the game, and these files provide share specifics on how to get started, what's expected, and how to contribute effectively.

open source repos for beginners

Step 2: Setting Up the Board (Environment Setup)

Next, you'd set up the board, making sure everything is in place. In open source, this means setting up your environment – installing the project, configuring your development setup, and ensuring everything is in place and working as expected. It's like correctly placing all the pieces on the board, so you can play the right way.

Step 3: Observing and Learning (Studying and Engaging)

Before jumping into the game, it can be helpful to observe others playing. Take some time to watch experienced players and see how they strategize, move their pieces, and respond to the game's dynamics. This is like studying code examples, reviewing past contributions, and understanding the project's history in open source. Engaging with the community through forums, discussions, and tutorials is like sitting next to seasoned players and learning from their moves and strategies.

Step 4: Practice Rounds (Making Initial Contributions)

Now you're ready for a practice round. In open source, these are your initial contributions. They might be microcontributions – asking a clarifying question in an issue, answering questions in the community, writing a blog post about the project, or adding an issue when you find a bug. Each of these steps is like moving a piece on the board, getting a feel for the game, and understanding how your actions affect the overall project.

Don't be discouraged if it takes a few "practice rounds" before you feel comfortable. Every time you contribute, you'll refine your strategies, understand the game's deeper goals (contributing to the project's mission), and build your confidence.

Step 5: Refining Strategies (Growing Your Skills)

The more you play, the better you get. Each contribution helps you understand the project's deeper goals, like each move in the game helps you to understand better how to win. You'll start to learn how to anticipate issues, collaborate effectively, and contribute more meaningfully. As your confidence grows, so will your impact on the project.

Step 6: Versatility and Adaptability (Exploring Other Projects)

And just like in board games, where players might take breaks or try different games, in open source, you check out other projects. But the skills you've learned – collaboration, problem-solving, coding – stay with you, making you a more versatile and adaptable contributor.

A Community of Players (Open Source Community)

Remember, you're not playing alone. The open source community has players of all levels, from beginners to experts, and everyone plays a part in the game's progression. There's always room for new players, and the community grows with contributors of all levels. For more ways to get started, check out our #100DaysOfOSS Challenge.

Top comments (1)

lymah profile image

Thanks for sharing @bekahhw !

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