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Ask HN: How can a high school student get started with open source projects?
15 points by web99 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 16 comments
My daughter is fairly proficient in Python (only language she has been learning for a couple of years) and I'd love to get her to contribute to open source projects as a way to get real-world, team-collaboration exposure.

I thought I'd find open source mentorship programs online but to my surprise I found zero. I think young kids interested in CS majors will benefit from open source mentorship programs as a way to learn the craft and get real-world experience. I see so many college students reaching out for internships - instead, they should just contribute to open source!


No offense, but you sound like one of those pushy parents. If she enjoys it then she'll figure it out on her own. Why does it need to be forced? I too was writing code at that age and managed on my own, all I needed was an Internet connection, a warm home, and food on the table.

Like other comments say, forcing it is a surefire way to kill any interest. And giving your daughter autonomy over her own learning is a very valuable lifeskill.

No offense taken! I only push the kids to get proper nutrition and sleep :) rest is their choice. She was applying for summer internships. I explained to her that open source might be a better way to get experience, and we looked into mentorship, which is how this thread started...

>> I explained to her that open source might be a better way to get experience, and we looked into mentorship, which is how this thread started...

so I presume you ended up agreeing with her that an internship is a better place for getting the mentorship she's looking for?

I say that not to be a dick, or to cause gratuitous offense, but that sometimes, even as adults, we are wrong, and should admit it.

While mentorship programs can exist, and there's nothing stopping them using a open source project as a target, in concept open source and mentoring are not really related.

Both overlap as an "altruistic social good", but the kinds of people who delight in teaching and mentoring and the kinds who delight in writing code (as a way of avoiding social interaction?) would not seem to be a natural overlap.

The vast majority of open-source programmers are doing it for fun (not money) so in their spare time. They probably want to spend that time programming not mentoring. The few doing it as a paid gig, well, they have work to do.

This might just be one of those things that seems like a good fit, but really isn't.

I see, thanks for the explanation. Good luck.

Difference between "pushy" and "inspiring" is the way the action is perceived. I don't think we can evaluate that from the post alone.

A lot of parents "push" their kids into something, and have them accept it enthusiastically.

Does she want to do open source work? Great way to kill a kids interest is get overly involved in it.

If she's not interested you could alternatively offer some funding for hosting and other services to let her build something on her own.

The simplest way is to get her (if she isn't already) to use a free (and open source) program, and when she gets used to it, get her to build it from source and tinker around, see how it works and how it can be modified. Maybe get her to fix a bug and contribute the patch upstream - that could be a memorable experience.

Thankfully, a lot of free (and open source) software is written in Python, so the choice is wide.

That is my suggestion. Fix a bug that affects you. Add a feature that you want. Granted not all will be as small and self-contained as my first contribution but there is little better motivation than doing something you want to use.

Thanks! We decided to go this route....

No problem! I hope you and your daughter have fun hacking around :)

Google summer of code, Linux Foundation, Mozilla have programmes for students.

There are also organisations like https://aossie.gitlab.io and fossasia.org

Also check out Python Foundation if they have programmes for students.

One organisation whose name slips my mind at the moment is from the US which helps school students collaborate on projects and even funds them to make that project into a business.

> Google summer of code

No more

I'd ignore the question of the in-project mentor and suggest filtering projects based on their open source community style of governance and supporting foundation and look through their actual collaboration communications to make sure their style is right for a young entry level contributor.

From those she can look at what interests her and why first bugs list they have, etc.

If they are a properly in the open she doesn't really need their mentoring as opposed to mentor like interactions from you, or any other people who would have time to review and discuss with her the ticket progress, her changes, etc.

She could end up having more connection to the project and mentoring they provide but she may also find other projects that are more interesting to her and realize the project she started on isn't motivating. It is hard to bring a dependence on a mentor that is helping because of one project with you.

Yep thanks!

Check out https://opensource.guide/how-to-contribute/ as well. It's a general guide though, doesn't seem to have links for mentorship programs.

Why not try to give her some real life problems to solve?

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