What I got from contributing to OSS

There are a lot of good altruistic reasons to contribute to Open Source Software, but this post focuses on my selfish reasons.

Learning Projects

I’m OK at reading books, implementing examples and doing exercises, but when it comes to thinking about good projects to get my hands dirty and implement stuff, I had a lot of trouble thinking of stuff to do. OSS provides an endless supply of bugs, projects and features to work on.

Code Reviews

Before I got started on OSS, the only person who ever really read my code was myself. Every patch I submitted to Mozilla was reviewed by at least one person, and that really improved my code. From running a Python linter plugin in Emacs to learning idiomatic ways of writing expressions, I learned a lot of good habits.


Whenever I was working on a bug, I could ask for help and someone would always answer, no matter if it was a problem specific to a bug or a general language/module/tool question. This way I was able to accomplish things that were unimaginable to me before.


Knowing someone is using a feature/tool I wrote is an amazing feeling. Even bug reports make me happy! I cherish every IRC mention of my projects.


Before I got started with OSS, all of my programming experience came from books and small projects. Contributing to OSS I got a chance to work on larger codebases, work with other people and play with technologies that I wouldn’t get to play by myself.


I’m now part of a very friendly community, full of people that I respect, like and trust. They help me a lot, and sometimes I even get to help back!


I used to be very afraid of not being good enough to contribute to OSS. I was not sure I was a real programmer. There were several bugs that I was completely sure I would not be able to fix, until I fixed them. Now I look back at what I did and I feel proud. I feel like maybe I really am a programmer.

If you are interested in long-term contributing, the A-team has some pretty cool contribution opportunities on the next quarter of contribution. Check it out!

tags : Mozilla