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Ask HN: Which open source project should I contribute to?
7 points by digamber_kamat on Aug 28, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 8 comments
I am an ordinary programmer with deep interest in PHP, Python and JavaScript. Whenever I get bored I like to write code. I realized that if I spend my free time helping some open source project in above three technologies I will be helping the world be a little better place.

But then where should I look? I am not sure if I can contribute something big but I am sure capable of fixing a bug here and there, writing a jQuery plugin useful to someone and so on.

Problem is not lack of skill or time but lack of ideas. How exactly should I go abotu contributing to an open-source project?

Wanting to reciprocate in some way to the open source projects you benefit from is natural, but the reality of the matter is far from obvious. Unless you are truly interested and fascinated by the code, you won't keep at it. The time and effort invested by the other project developers in your education will eventually be wasted when you lose interest. It might not be a complete waste since you might actually make some useful contributions, but all healthy projects are looking for long term contributors.

I hate to say it, but if you knew of a project with code that fascinates you, then you would not be asking this question, instead, you'd be working on it right now because it's fun.

With that said, the easiest way to get started in any project is just start fixing bugs and submitting your patches. Everyone loves bug fixes, even if you do them wrong the first time and need to redo them. In other words, it's your effort and dedication that shows through and is important. You don't need to be the world's greatest programmer or the resident expert of a codebase, but you do need to keep trying, and you need to be able to listen to feedback and learn from it (even if harsh).

Lastly, there's always more things to do to help a project than people to do them. Though a project IS code, you can always find other ways to contribute if you use your imagination and put in some effort.

@jcr agree. If you have to ask, then you probably won't stick with anything that anyone suggests. Doing development on an open source project is like another job, and if its not something you enjoy doing or is a hobby for you then you will end up not sticking with it.

Here you have a list of PHP + Python + JavaScript Open Source projects https://www.masterbranch.com/javascript-php-python-projects (Disclaimer: I'm the co-founder of the site).

As others said, one way to start contributing is ask on the mailing list. Maybe you can start askin / answering some questions, being active and offering you to do some minor bugs or documentation (this is a good start). if you feel confortable and you have been doing a good job you will be able to continue with your contributions.

Also, the most important part is: have fun, try to pick a cool project, something that you enjoy and start from there.

Last but not less, good luck with that

This is really cool. I really wanted something like that.

Most Open Source Project use version control systems/Source code management system to track the code base. Do you have experience in using them. I found a bug in miro few months back, and wanted to patch it. They managed their source code with Git, So, I ended up learning some important things in Git.

So, Also make sure you have knowledge about VCS like Git, Subversion under your belt.

yes, I am proficient with GIT.

I have several I need help with. I am a part of a team building an open source social search engine framework in python/javascript to compete with the likes of radian6 and socialmention.

Contact me at lance@lrvick.net if interested :-)

Check each project's bug tracker and see what you can fix.

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