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I’m a huge fan of open source software. Much of my work and play involve using it, either directly or indirectly. And so I’m a big proponent of people giving back to open source and the community that supports it – especially companies that benefit so immensely from open source – rather than just taking it for granted, or worse complaining about imperfections in this free offering.

Brett Cannon has a great post about The social contract of open source that discusses this issue, and offers some insights into how people who benefit from open source should act. In summary:

Every commit of open source code should be viewed as an independent gift from the maintainer that they happened to leave on their front yard for others to enjoy if they so desire; treating them as a means to and for their open source code is unethical.

So please be kind to your open source maintainers. Better yet get involved in making your favorite open source projects even better for you and others. Check out some of the following resources from First Timers Only and others to get you started:

  • First Contributions is a hands-on tutorial that walks you through contributions workflow on GitHub.
  • Up for Grabs is a site that aggregates projects that actively want help.
  • CodeTriage helps you subscribe to your favorite open-source projects and get a new open issue from them in your inbox every day.
  • Open Source Friday encourages you to spend time on open source every Friday.

Banner photo by flazingo_photos shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

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