How I Made My First Contribution To Open Source
4 things I learned from making my first contribution to Open Source.
5 min read
After dedicating some weeks as a newbie to the open-source community, I have realized that my journey just got started.
Prior to when I commenced writing this post, I had finished my first serious weeks of contributing to open-source.
While I’m aware that one month has not made me an open-source expert, the stories I describe will be from my own perspective. Hopefully, designers trying to contribute to open source might find some value in reading the story of someone in very similar shoes.
This article will describe the contributions and interactions that took place. It will also focus on the path that led up to where I am at the moment.
I got to know about open-source the moment I began my journey into tech. What got me more intrigued about open-source was its leverage to make positive contributions to something that would be beneficial to us all. A friend also described all the benefits for personal development and my career.
Being very passionate about designing for impact, I’ve looked for ways to contribute to open-source software/organizations using my skill as a product designer but all seemed abortive. Most of the projects I came across required coding and technicality which wasn't my field.
My first encounter
A friend told me to be on the lookout for Outreachy internships which supports diversity in open-source and open-science. This was where my first encounter with open-source began.
Initial applications opened on the 9th of August and I applied for the Dec 2022 internship at Outreachy. On the 8th of October, 2022, I got an email stating that my initial application has been approved. I couldn't hold back my joy, I was grateful and excited.
The second and final stage before interns are selected is the contribution phase. This is where you pick a project from the available open-source community projects to work on based on your skill set and the skills required to execute the project.
My choice of project
We were presented with 75 awesome projects to make contributions to.
When I saw the list of projects, I paused for some moments with my mouth wide open. Fear and doubt began to creep in, I started questioning if I had the ability to execute any project.
Before I went ahead to choose a project, I wanted one that resonated with me and one to which my skillset would be beneficial in bringing change.
I came across an interesting project from Oppia. I made research about the organization and their goal automatically resonated with me. I decided to contribute to Oppia because of its remarkable purpose: to make high-quality education available to those who may not have access to it.
In addition, the skill description matched my skillset; Teaching experience, writing reports, clear written communication, user research, and design. It didn’t require any technicality such as coding.
Our two major task was:
Review maths lessons on the Oppia learning site and assess them from a pedagogical perspective, focusing mainly on ensuring that learners don't get stuck in a way that stops them from progressing.
Create and submit 1-2 skill tables for any Science or Digital Skills topic that would be relevant to learners in Oppia’s target demographic.
Making my contributions to OPPIA
One thing that makes open-source projects so entertaining to work on is the open-source community. I came across numerous interested individuals who are willing to contribute to the projects and embody the spirit of innovation, teamwork, and selflessness.
What was amazing is that we received so much support from our mentors SeanLip and AllanYangZhou. This article would not be complete without expressing my gratitude towards them.
They provided a safe space for support and constructive feedback which gave me confidence in executing the task I was assigned.
My experience with Oppia’s Free Community includes a variety of learning and teaching opportunities. Being a user enabled me to empathize with other users by digging deep into the strengths and weaknesses of the platform. As a contributor, I was able to put to use my problem-solving skill, communication skills, writing skills, and Critical thinking skill into use.
I'm very happy that I applied to Outreachy and was able to contribute to Oppia Org. It not only gave me experience in contributing to an open-source project but I was able to increase my Github skills which will be valuable in the future.
What I have Learned
I have learned that open-source is about collaborating and not competing.
I’ve learned how to effectively convey my thoughts and changes to the mentors that had to review my changes.
I have learned how to articulate my thoughts to get my ideas across.
I have learned that there’s no prerequisite to learning and applying open-source principles. In the open-source community, everyone is welcome regardless of background. There is no discrimination.
Now I want to devote more time to reading and learning more about the open-source world and sharing my journey to inspire others.
This is precisely the beauty of the open-source community: to give back!
Going forward after this contribution phase and beyond, I will just do as I’ve done during this first month: keep an eye out on issues and conversations, and help wherever and whenever I can. As time progresses, I hope to be able to also contribute to more complex problems and advocate for more open-source communities.
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