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The genesis for joining as an open source contributor


Thoughts on Joining an Open Source Community

For some of you who are open source veterans, the reasons for becoming and open source contributor may be obvious. But as a newcomer, I would like to share my personal motivations for joining an Open Source community and beginning my journey as a contributor. I hope I can inspire others to do the same. I divide the whole issue into 6 questions. Are they critical for defining the Genesis of joining an open source community? Let’s find out.

1. Who am I

My name is Pawel. I am 33 years old, married for about a year and living in Krakow – a city in the southern part of Poland, which you may know from Steven Spielberg’s film - Schindler’s List. I am working in finance for a big company related to the tobacco industry, but closely collaborate with the internal IT department.

2. Do I have specific skills or an IT background

As you may have noticed from the previous question, I am somehow related to IT technologies but I would say in minor scale. If you like to work with computers, like me, you may consider this passion as your advantage. Important qualities include being patient with skills in detective work, and the ability to work in small steps. And the last one, when you see an error on your screen and wonder “hmmm, what happened?”, instead of swearing under your nose, you consider it a challenge.

3. How to decide if it is a good idea to participate in an Open Source Community

In my early experience, I learned it was not a mistake to join a community of like minded people, and only good things have come from it. If you are considering such activity, you are already in the right frame of mind. Just make one more little step – join. I think it is very likely you will immediately meet experienced and open minded people who understand the importance of diversity in community (in all different aspects) and are willing to step up and help you.

4. Why did I decide to step into the Ortelius family

My main motivation to join the Ortelius Open Source family was to improve my skills for a potential job change, start creating new skills instead of repeating old, and to offer my expertise to help others while developing myself. I started learning the JAVA programming language but soon realized that I needed a place to collaborate with others. Using my detective skills, I searched for some “real good first issue” to solve – which I found regarding the Ortelius documentation. I sent my update as a pull request on GitHub and a few days later I got a message from Steve Taylor, one of the Ortelius Community Managers, that it was approved. He also invited me to the Ortelius Discord communication channel. I didn’t know about Discord before and then thought “OMG, it is happening!” I was super happy to schedule our first meeting to discuss how to best work when solving issues and creating pull request. I choose Ortelius because I found this one issue which I could resolve - you may say it was by accident.

In my actual work, I have created some features which are in use by others and have automated some processes. I find that creating such tools is very satisfying, especially when you have analyzed the problem for a long time, and finally, when you get all pieces together and hit that green START button and realize that everything has gone as planned. Shivers run down your back and your realize “it lives – it works!” What a super satisfying moment. I believe working with the Ortelius community will give me such feelings. Also, what is interesting, you can do all these things using the computer in front of you, connected to people around the world.

5. Will I be able to handle emerging challenges

Basically you will not be alone on your open source journey, and you should ask as many questions as you need. Ponder this - you will learn new things and boost your technical profile. I would follow the phrase “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Keep working systemically with small steps and you will succeed. Don’t let yourself get overloaded and give up. At the beginning almost every issue might be challenging, but after a couple of tries and talks with more experienced mates, you will catch-up with what is going on.

6. What are my expectations of participating in OSS activity

By working with much more experienced community contributors, I will gain knowledge and skills necessary for developing my IT career, understand the whole environment and keep up on new trends. I believe I found the door to success and the open source community can be the correct key 😊.

When I am struggling with some challenges, I like to ask myself these questions to realize where I am and why I am doing this. I believe some of you might have similar feelings. What would be your genesis for participating as an Open Source contributor?