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 🙂 ).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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?
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.