Being a Contributor

When I attended DjangoCon I decided I needed to work a bit less on my own projects and start putting more time into contributing to other projects. I use so many free and open libraries both in my work and my personal code, and it is time to start contributing again.

The first project I decided to try to contribute to was Read the Docs. The choice was pretty easy since I know Eric Holscher and it is a project I benefit from on a regular basis. So at the DjangoCon sprints I sat down near him and asked him if there were any particularly valuable tickets I could take and start hacking on. He gave me a list of issues and I started in.

By the end of the day I had a patch for RTD, granted it didn’t fully work but it was a start. Added some unit tests and fixed up the code and soon I had a complete contribution that was added and it made me smile. And smile even more to be added to the AUTHORS file. Couple more patches later and Eric asked if I wanted to help out with the servers and get access to them. I said yes and now I am part of the RTD ops team as well as a contributor.

I used to contribute to a couple projects a few years ago. In recent history I’ve spent my time scratching my own itches and working on proprietary code for work. Going through the process of contributing has made me excited to do it some more on various projects. And GitHub makes it so easy to just send a pull request, comment a couple times back and forth and get patches accepted.

I am far from the first to talk about how easy it is to contribute to projects compared to the old days of sending patches to mailing lists. I just want to be another voice in the crowd, if even one person decides to contribute because of this, or it makes a person happy and continues contributing this was a success.

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