This is our second video of our non-coding contributions series for those looking to break into open source software development. In this episode, we dive into some creative ways you can support your favourite open source projects.
For full details check out the video on YouTube. For those who prefer to read instead of watch, see the transcript below.
Supporting Open Source
JZ Ok, Bash - we’re now on our second episode. Let’s go over some lesser-known ways of adding value to open source projects without writing any code. Now, we’ve talked before with our friends at Github about [how hard it can be] to maintain open source projects without funding. Maybe let’s start there?
Bash Absolutely. I know university students are always looking for new ways to get funding for their projects and universities have plenty of resources to help them get started. Why not apply the same strategies for open source?
We have linked a great blog post down below from a student association network, but here are some of the overarching points for getting your project funded. Disclaimer: make sure you have permission before attempting to act on behalf of an open source project.
Offer to write grant applications on the project’s behalf. You can often find grants available for technology projects by country, so you can look at various grants in the project owner’s country, check out the criteria, and offer to write the grant application for them. This is a great way you can put that university degree to work or exercise your technical writing and storytelling skills.
Host a fundraising event where all proceeds go to your open source project. You can reach out to different content creators or brands in the space to see if you can get them involved. Networking also plays a big role in determining the success of your projects and outreach campaigns, so don’t worry, we’ll be covering that too.
JZ The second way to contribute is via some parallel technical skills, such as graphic design. Perhaps coding isn’t your thing, but you’ve dabbled plenty in design software, the Photoshop, Figma, Canvas’ of the world. Feel free to ping those open source contributors to help design better, be it their readmes or project/website.
Bash, now, the next one you know very well!
Bash Yes! Let’s talk community and outreach. If you like making videos or writing blog posts, you could make videos or written tutorials for how to use open source tool (and publish on youtube/dev.to). With this, you can also look for opportunities to bring together how you used your favourite open source tool with another larger project. This can be a good way to showcase actionable ways that the users of the larger project might gain value from your tool.
JZ Another contributing method that makes a material impact is sharing the open source tool with your friends or communities that might interested. Self-promotion is not allowed in a lot of places, but you as a user can share how it has added value in your life. For example, at Charm, team members are very active on Reddit, we always like to share new tools, editors, workflow tips and tricks within the team and broader community.
JZ Final method we’re sharing is access to your network. Connect developers to others who might be interested in collaborating, sharing their message, sponsoring them. At Charm, it’s important to us to foster our open source community.
That often means partnering with fellow startups like Supabase, Sourcegraph and companies like Github, Twitter. We also make an effort to highlight the projects being built by our community in our Charm News segments, or by having them on our community YouTube channel. To do so, one can start by reaching out to companies currently using the open source tool of choice and asking for a feature of the tool to the company’s various social media platforms
Bash Keep in mind that open source maintainers are choosing to create and support these tools on their own time. A great way to support the lead maintainers is to make it a great community. They will be much more fulfilled if they’re enjoying their time spent on the project. You can uplift the community by being an active member and even hanging out on Discord, hosting game nights in the discord, sending messages of support, surprising them with incredible content about their tooling and even organizing fundraising events to support your favourite projects. They will be grateful for the support without needing to add any more to their plate.
JZ Those are the four less common types non coding contributions.
What’s up next?
In the next episode of the this series, coming out in a few short weeks, we’ll be hosting a panel of leading open source experts on their experiences working as non code contributors and how to contribute in startups and large companies alike. Stay tuned.
Bash Don’t forget to like, share with your friends, and subscribe to stay updated on this series.