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What Motivates You To Contribute To Open Source?

06.30.2010
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Last week I read this article about the benefits of contributing to open source, and  it got me wondering what are the key things that motivate people to be part of a community.

The article mentions that one of the advantages is that you get to work in a team environment with really smart people. This is important to me - no matter what your day job, if you're dealing with open source projects, you're dealing with people who really want to be developing code. Working with people who love what they do can be really inspiring for you. If you've been tiring of the software industry, working with enthusiasts might reignite your interest.

For some people, getting into the code can be difficult, but writing documentation (articles, tutorials, FAQs) is just as important to any open source project. After all, just having code isn't going to get people interesting in using the project in question. Writing about these projects is something that I really would encourage. Most of my own contributions to open source projects (e.g. ECF, Riena) has been through articles I've written about them rather than any code contributions. If you're looking for the platform to write on, why not use JavaLobby, .NET Zone or EclipseZone?

But, what I'd like to know here is what motivates you to become part of an open source community. If your reason isn't on the poll list, just leave a comment in the section below. I'm sure anyone running an open source project is looking for people to contribute either code or documentation. Let us know in the comments if you're looking for people to help out.

Comments

Endre Varga replied on Wed, 2010/06/30 - 8:22am

Missing option: for fun. Anyway, "I get to learn new technologies" is a close match.

Mac Pudding replied on Wed, 2010/06/30 - 9:46am

I do it because it feels good to do something good.

Jim Bethancourt replied on Wed, 2010/06/30 - 10:28am

I had volunteered to develop an application for a nonprofit, and making use of the resources that are available to open source projects just made sense. In addition, it allowed others to collaborate on the project much easier, and if something should happen to me, someone else can come along and work on the project.

Aidan Gordon replied on Wed, 2010/06/30 - 12:06pm

What about:

* Business Networking (Get to make business contacts with people all around the world)

* Resume Building (Helps build a strong portfolio and displays expertise knowledge in that product)

 

I realise these are slightly more machavalian than the options previously listed, but they're valid.

Tom Wheeler replied on Wed, 2010/06/30 - 12:07pm

Missing option: because it's usually a lot easier to improve an existing product than write one from scratch (and if it's closed source, you're at the mercy of the vendor to improve the product for you). 

The freedom implied by open source software is also important.  I know that, for example, Linux is going to be here in 10-15 years even some proprietary version of UNIX won't be.  To me, it's wiser to invest my time and/or money in supporting something that's not going to disappear or substantially change based on the whims of a single vendor.

Greg Brown replied on Wed, 2010/06/30 - 8:44pm

Hi James,

I founded the Apache Pivot open-source project because I saw a niche that commercial RIA platforms didn't (and still don't) fill. I continue to work on it because I believe that it is a compelling offering on its own.

We are always looking for additional people to help. To your point, promoting an open-source effort can be challenging, and writing about a project really is just as important as coding for it. In fact, some of our contributors joined the project thanks to some early postings about Pivot on Javalobby. :-)

If anyone is interested in learning about, writing about, or otherwise contributing to Apache Pivot, please come visit us at http://pivot.apache.org. Thanks!

Greg

pankaj Tiwari replied on Thu, 2010/07/01 - 3:35am

Did not contributed anything yet, But it does help me to learn how to implements various things and best practises, since those are the best code that can be looked at

Julio Aguilar replied on Thu, 2010/07/01 - 1:01pm

Feeling grateful is another missing option.

I'm conscious that the open source software I use comes from the work of many people, therefore when I see the opportunity to help back a little bit by fixing some code, completing some documentation, or just testing and reporting bugs, I do.

This could also count as self-interest. I want the project to be better and to last. Not sure if this is equivalent to being 'successful' since I don't care if many or few people are using it.

Andrea Del Bene replied on Fri, 2010/07/02 - 9:56am in response to: Greg Brown

Hi Greg!

 

I really like Apache Pivo, I think is a sort of enhanched version of the old applet and is very helpfull when you need a complex RIA.

Hope it continues to gain popularity!

 

Bye bye!

 

 

Brian Rinaldi replied on Tue, 2010/07/06 - 12:17pm

Thanks for posting about my article! As I noted in the post, there are mutliple reasons you might want to contribute and usually its some combination of several of the items you listed. However, you did a great job of dissecting them down to a solid list of reasons. My personal biggest motivator is to be part of the community but I could easily have chosen several items from your list as secondary motivators.

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