Code Simplicity

Top 10 Reasons To Work On Open Source (In a California Accent)

So, as a little digression from our normal content, I felt like writing a list of the top 10 reasons to work on open-source software…but being a born Californian, I felt I had to pay a little respect to my roots. So here we have the top 10 reasons to work on open-source…as said by, like, a dude from Cali (with translations underneath πŸ™‚ ).

  1. Dudes at Silicon Valley parties will think you’re, like, cool.

    Impress people you don’t know! You can say, “I work on an open source project,” and nod your head like you’re cool. But no, more seriously, about 50% of all the people I meet at Silicon Valley parties are totally amazed that I’m one of the primary developers of Bugzilla, something that they use every day.

    This doesn’t work so well with the ladies, though, usually. “Yeah, I’m an extremely intense programmer, oh yeah.”

    No, but more seriously: How many girls did you see at OSCON? If anybody has a scheme to get more girls involved or interested in open source, the whole open-source world (the current girls included, I’m sure) would be thrilled.

  2. It totally has nothing to do with whether or not you’re a “hottie.” Just be yourself, man, just be yourself.

    Open Source is definitely one place where you’ll be respected for your intelligence and ability, not how expensive your clothes are or how much you paid for your haircut. Nobody cares what you look like. We only care how good your ideas are.

  3. It’s hella sick when you’re interviewing!

    When you’re interviewing and you worked on some open-source project, it’s completely valid job experience. Sometimes it even makes you more valuable than normal job experience, if the project is well-known. Also, if you worked on open-source in your spare time, that shows the kind of passion for software engineering that employers are really looking for.

  4. You can, like, totally freelance. Seriously? Ya, like totally seriously.

    There’s a lot of need for contractors for certain open-source projects. If you become a prominent contributor to a project and get your name on its Consultants List, then you can make a living doing consulting for people who use the software!

  5. Dude, we’ll like, laugh at your jokes and stuff, dude.

    I have laughed harder while listening to some conversations on IRC than I have at almost anything else in the world. There’s something about shared experience and understanding that makes things much funnier than jokes that “everybody” is supposed to get. And where else can you make jokes about programming languages and have multiple people actually get them?

  6. You can say how, like, stuff goes and people will actually listen to you. Whoa.

    When you write a feature, to a large degree you’re the one who’s going to decide how it works! Don’t like how a particular program works? Well, maybe you could have been the one who wrote that feature instead! Don’t like some documentation? What if you had written it instead?

    And if you don’t like how something works now, the more you contribute to an open-source project, the more say you’ll have in fixing that thing. Have an itch to just make things work right? Open Source is the place to be.

  7. You learn, like, so much stuff, like seriously.

    Are you looking for something new, some way to expand your horizons and learn something new instead of just mechanically doing the same thing over and over at work? No matter what your interest is, there’s going to be some open-source project out there that uses the things you want to learn about. And it won’t just be some tiny project just for yourself, but something that people really use!

  8. You can like, belong to something, and stuff. That’s some cosmic stuff, man.

    When you contribute to an open-source project, you’re not just a cog in a great machine, or just a worker at a job. You become part of a larger community, with its own in-jokes, culture, and people.

    I used to think that was just some marketing gibberish, but it’s really true. It may not be the best way to find people who you can “hang out” with every day, but you’ll get to know a lot of new people and become part of a group in a very definite way.

    It’s even more true if you go to conventions like OSCON or the more specific ones for the various open-source projects, where you can meet and hang out with lots of other developers “In Real Life”, most of whom are really great (and intelligent) people.

  9. You get to feel like a revolutionary (a revolutionary nerd, but…hey, s’all good, s’all good).

    Yeah! Down with The Man! We don’t need any stinkin’ proprietary software!

    You can even get to protest things, like software patents! You’ll be almost as cool as your parents were in the 60’s. Kind of.

    No, but seriously: Open Source is still a relatively new thing in the world, and you can be a part of blazing its trail. It’s not the “normal” way to do things quite just yet, so if you like being a little different than the swarming masses, open source is the place to be.

  10. It seriously helps out, man.

    Working on open-source software helps out a lot of people:

    • The people who use the software. Millions of people use open-source software around the world every day to do their job, handle their problems, or just have fun! You could be affecting the lives of all those people.
    • The people who write the software. Open-source projects almost all really want your assistance! If a project is at all popular, they probably have more feature requests than they can handle. Don’t come to an open-source project and say, “This is what I’m going to do for you,” but do come and say, “How can I help you guys out?” We all need some help, and competent help is much appreciated.
    • All the people who won’t have to write the software that you write. Sometimes you just want to download a program to do a task for you. You don’t want to have to write a program for everything you want to do. You’re saving the time of millions of users and computer programmers, by creating something that everybody can use and modify!

And that’s my list! Hope you had totally chill time, brah.


30 Responses to Top 10 Reasons To Work On Open Source (In a California Accent)

  1. Beautiful :))))))
    Though I don’t think everybdy will actually understand that your points are valid due to your “irony tone”…!! :S

  2. Darek says:

    Great post, like, totally cool brah πŸ˜‰

    Seriously, excellent open source evangelism in a funny way, I’ll add it to my favourites.

  3. Stevan Little says:

    Gnarley post dude! I like totally agree with all your points man!

    re: meeting OSS people in real-life

    It is always cool to meet people you only know as text, so you can add some personality and inflection behind the words as you read them/speak them in your head (like whoa totally man). But with this post, I kept going between hearing your voice and a kind of Keanu Reeves/Young Sean Penn πŸ™‚

    Party On!

    – Stevan

    • Max Kanat-Alexander says:

      Cha, dude, thanks for the praise, yo. πŸ™‚

      Speaking of meeting OSS people in real life, hanging out with you guys at OSCON was a big impetus for that point. πŸ™‚

      And hahahaha…yeah, I think if I made this into audio, there’d definitely have to be a Keanu Reeves type dude doing the bolded stuff and me doing the stuff underneath. πŸ™‚


  4. Todd says:

    Which Californians do you talk to? Must be so-cal.

    • Max Kanat-Alexander says:

      Well, the “sick” is So-Cal. πŸ™‚ The “hella” is Nor-Cal, though. πŸ™‚ And the excessive “dude” is SoCal, but also a bit of the actual me. πŸ™‚ (The reason I wrote these things this was was that I actually thought of number 10 as “Dudes at Silicon Valley parties will think you’re cool.” πŸ™‚ )


  5. Joe Smith says:

    As a native Californian, I totally agree. Surfs up, dude! πŸ™‚

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  8. Nicholas says:

    You should be sending “en-US-CA” as your content language for this post, or include a lang tag on the #txt item, otherwise my synthesiser may pick a Boston accent, or like, some Texan drawl thing. (You have a meta equiv in the HTML but no actual header.)

  9. Shane Kerns says:

    Only chicks talk like that in CA. Coming from your mouth it sounds …. well completely GAY.

    • Max Kanat-Alexander says:

      Well, only chicks say “hottie,” unless it’s guys making fun of girls. πŸ™‚ And maybe some of the “like seriously.” But I actually say some of those things from time to time–I just exaggerated it a bit. πŸ™‚


  10. daniel says:

    >pct 7: There’s a lot of need for contractors for certain open-source projects.

    i’ve been in the valley for 6 years. i do know several contractors, but NONE of them engages as you described it…

    here’s how it works over there:

    1. you are born there and inherited/own a house (fully paid off by your parents, grand parents, etc). you got a mediocre college degree (not even a master, generally from a state university rated 1.8-2.2) half computer science, half business and you are relatively ok, technically talking and very vocal/articulated especially relating to mba execs and so on. for comparison, berkeley, mit or any good accredited international universities are rated 4.2-4.9! (go figure)

    2. you got no kids and your wife has a very stable job (enough to pay for the light, e.g. md, nurse, gov employee, etc) and pension. so you do NOT really have to make a living, in exorbitant California, if you didn’t want to… both businesses and outstanding engineers (international or us-top caliber) already left because the cost of living there is un-acceptable, by any means! (we’re not talking Beverly Hills, we’re talking San Francisco, San Jose, LA, etc)

    3. you can afford to __chose__ your projects, i repeat, in most cases based on open source, but with strong proprietary accent, you get paid between $50-$150/hour but since you do no have any financial needs, you can afford to work at will, up to 2 or 3 months / year, if any…

    i know several individuals in this situation. is this reality specific to open source? is this about making a living? how many like these are there? i do know about 4 in this situation. properly interviewed (at international technical standards, they would not even pass a bachelor level serious test…) – so, is this article a good example about what is going on? i did not think so!


    • Max Kanat-Alexander says:

      I’ve been making a living quite nicely for the last four years as a contractor working on open source, and I pay rent just like everybody else, and I work regularly. I have no kids, but I’m not married. I live in Mountain View. I work almost entirely (99%) on Open Source, though I do do some Open Source work on Windows.


      • Mohamed HAssan says:

        I used to make living working as FOSS Consultant in the Bay Area. My only problem was the amount of hours you put into your work. I was working 17 hours a day , 6 days a week. You can make good money out of it BUT hey, You won’t be able to do it for a long time. Office job is still more convenient specially if you work on your thesis or dissertation like myself. I have not done any consulting for the past year but I can tell I’m missing it so much specially because I have to work on some Cupertino Machines ( MAC ). OMG I hate MAC.Offffffffffffff

        • Max Kanat-Alexander says:

          Wow, 17 hours a day! πŸ™‚ I’ve only worked that much a few days in my career, I think!

          And hahahaha, yeah, those Cupertino machines can be a pain sometimes. πŸ™‚


  11. jpmelos says:

    Awesome post! πŸ˜€

    I’m a graduating in Computer Engineering and I really enjoy programming and I’ve been using Linux for like 2 years now, but I have a scar I want to fix soon, though: I never worked in a serious Open Source Project. So, I’m currently checking some sites like for interesting projects to join.

    When I came to your post, I already was convinced I needed to work on an Open Source Project, but after reading this, it just reinforced my will.

    Thank you very much!

  12. Jolie says:

    Dude, I can totally relate. And the magic of humor mixed with code…cha brah, you worked it. Laugh on.


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  14. That’s awesome post , very energetic, although i do work with OpenSource but made me to work on more projects πŸ™‚ . Thanks for that πŸ™‚


  15. bharat patel says:

    i am bharat patel, i m project analyst of open source coding…
    i have great opportunity to work on it and i like very much..
    i suggested all software engg. to go ahead with open source..

  16. Ben says:

    Awesome! As a fellow Californian and fan of open source, Bravo dude! My favorite was #2. Open Source is an information revolution.

    • Max Kanat-Alexander says:

      Hahaha, thanks! πŸ™‚ Yeah, I agree! πŸ™‚ Knowledge is something that should be available to everybody! πŸ™‚


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