GitHub is the world’s most popular open source project collaboration site. To start working for open source projects, you’ll need to have a free account on the site. Open source projects are managed by people who have their own accounts on GitHub. Once you make a repository on your Github account, it will show up on your online web profile. People from around the world then can access and view your repository from their online web profiles. You are allowed to create repositories for public or private use on GitHub for free…
Joining an open source project is exciting, because you have the chance to help out and collaborate with other people on a project, but also daunting because you might not know where to start. By following these steps, you’ll be on your way to contributing in no time.
Discovering relevant projects
If there’s a particular topic that interests you, visit
github.com/topics/<topic>. For example, if you are interested in machine learning, you can find relevant projects and good first issues by visiting https://github.com/topics/machine-learning. You can browse popular topics by visiting Topics. You can also search for repositories that match a topic you’re interested in. For more information, see “Searching for repositories.”
If you’ve been active on GitHub.com, you can find personalized recommendations for projects and good first issues based on your past contributions, stars, and other activities in Explore. You can also sign up for the Explore newsletter to receive emails about opportunities to contribute to GitHub based on your interests. To sign up, see Explore email newsletter.
Keep up with recent activity from repositories you watch and people you follow in the “All activity” section of your personal dashboard. For more information, see “About your personal dashboard.”
You can connect with developers around the world in GitHub Community Support to ask and answer questions, learn, and interact directly with GitHub staff.
Improve software you rely on
Lots of open source contributors start by being users of software they contribute to. When you find a bug in an open source software you use, you may want to look at the source to see if you can patch it yourself. If that’s the case, then contributing the patch back is the best way to ensure that your friends (and yourself when you update to the next release) will be able to benefit from it.
Get to know GitHub
GitHub is the most popular platform for open source collaboration, so you’ll probably use it when exploring the world of OSS. First, you need to create a GitHub account and read the guide that helps you get started. On GitHub, you can contribute to projects by submitting issues and contributing code. Submitting issues means sending messages about errors in applications and suggesting ways to fix them. Contributing code involves sending pull requests with your corrections and improvements.
Meet people who are interested in similar things
Open source projects with warm, welcoming communities keep people coming back for years. Many people form lifelong friendships through their participation in open source, whether it’s running into each other at conferences or late night online chats about burritos.
Learn the basics
When working with GitHub, you should know how to use Git – one of the most popular version control tools (also known as revision control tools). Because developers constantly make changes to their code, they need a system that can manage those changes in a central repository. In this way, everyone involved in the development process can download a given piece of software, make changes, and submit updates.
Testing a pull request
You can contribute to an open source project by merging a pull request into your local copy of the project and testing the changes. Add the outcome of your testing in a comment on the pull request.
Join the community
You can easily join an open source project by subscribing to the mailing list for that project. You can find mailing lists on official websites or on GitHub pages. After being accepted to the list, you can communicate with team members and get support if necessary. Thanks to the vibrant communities present in nearly every OSS project, you are likely to get quick replies to your questions.
Finding good first issues
If you already know what project you want to work on, you can find beginner-friendly issues in that repository by visiting
github.com/<owner>/<repository>/contribute. For an example, you can find ways to make your first contribution to
electron/electron at https://github.com/electron/electron/contribute.
All skills are welcomed
Even non-programmers can contribute to open source projects! Documentation is needed for all projects, and sometimes this is poorly written and maintained. Thus, you can help by writing, updating or even translating documentation. Also, your design skills might come in handy: every application needs an interface, after all. Finally, you can contribute by managing a community by replying to questions and guiding newcomers.
It’s empowering to be able to make changes, even small ones
You don’t have to become a lifelong contributor to enjoy participating in open source. Have you ever seen a typo on a website, and wished someone would fix it? On an open source project, you can do just that. Open source helps people feel agency over their lives and how they experience the world, and that in itself is gratifying.
Find mentors and teach others
Working with others on a shared project means you’ll have to explain how you do things, as well as ask other people for help. The acts of learning and teaching can be a fulfilling activity for everyone involved.
Opening an issue
If you encounter a bug in an open source project, check if the bug has already been reported. If the bug has not been reported, you can open an issue to report the bug according to the project’s contribution guidelines.
Learn people skills
Open source offers opportunities to practice leadership and management skills, such as resolving conflicts, organizing teams of people, and prioritizing work.
Create open source alternatives to commercial software
Today’s commercial projects actively engage open source solutions. Many companies base their projects on free tools. When there’s a huge selection of software, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. This is why it’s useful to play around with free software that can replace similar proprietary software, or that fixes an issue you’ve recently faced.
Another reason for replacing commercial solutions with open source software is eagerness for real innovation and growth. Commercial software claims to be innovative, but its final goal is turning a profit. Open source software unites best practices, great quality of code and passionate developers willing to code just because they like to.
Do you want to join projects on Github? If you want to help out and make a few friends, then read on to learn about how to contribute to open source project!