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Leonardo Montini for This is Learning

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at leonardomontini.dev

Not feeling ready for Open Source?

One of the major blockers for newcomers to Open Source is that unpleasant impression of not feeling ready yet.

But the thing is, how does one feel ready? And when?

Well, the answer is pretty simple, you are ready.

Let me show you how your struggles in approaching an Open Source project can actually be converted into pull requests.

This article is extracted from the script of this video on YouTube.

Being helpful

First of all, as I say many times, contributing does not necessarily mean implementing new big features or fixing nasty bugs. There are a lot of other relevant activities you can do to get more confident.

When you navigate on GitHub and look at a repository you want to contribute to, you might feel confused and lostโ€ฆ and thatโ€™s ok!

Getting into the projectโ€™s culture

You can start by reading carefully the README.md to learn more about the project, then have a look at CONTRIBUTING.md to understand how the contribution workflow is handled in that specific project. You might also find a file called CODE OF CONDUCT with general rules.

Reading this important piece of documentation will make you already more familiar with the projectโ€™s culture.

Understanding issues and pull requests

Itโ€™s now time to navigate to the issues tab, where you will be able to see how users write their issues and how maintainers answer and guide the community.

Just pick some issues with comments and read some of the discussions between all the participants. Actually, if you think you have something to add to the conversation, go for it and send your message!

Without noticing, youโ€™re already in the loop! Youโ€™re contributing to a relevant conversation and youโ€™re adding value to the project.

When youโ€™re done with the issues tab, the next one in the list is Pull Requests.

Similarly to what you just did in the issues tab, click on some Pull Requests and read the content. If you think you have something to add, once again you can jump straight into the discussion and write a comment.

You can also look at the code so that you get an idea of the coding standards of the project and well, once again without noticing youโ€™re contributing by doing a code review. If you see some room for improvement in the code, let everyone know!

Donโ€™t be afraid, as long as youโ€™re polite, all feedback is welcome!

Project setup and feedback

After these steps, you will find yourself much more confident about the environment and you have a good picture to know if youโ€™re still interested in that specific project or if you need to find a different one.

Go back to CONTRIBUTING.md and follow the instructions to set up the project on your computer.

If you encounter some problems during the process or you feel something is missing or could be improved in the docs, congratulations, hereโ€™s your chance to contribute. Feel free to open an issue and describe the problem you had, what extra steps you had to do or your feedback in general about the documentation or the setup process itself.

The issue you will open might lead to a better setup experience for everyone else coming after you.

Do you realize that youโ€™re already contributing? And by the way, this could also be your chance to submit your first PR to the project addressing that specific issue.

Closing

At the beginning of this article we were focusing on your struggles in how to become a contributor and we ended up with four really straightforward situations where you will find yourself already contributing.

You are ready, now!


Thanks for reading this post, I hope you found it interesting!

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๐ŸŒš Friends don't let friends browse without dark mode.

Sorry, it's true.