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Ramón Huidobro for CodeLand 2022

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[On-Demand Talk] There's More to Open Source than Code

About this talk

Interested in trying out Open Source contributing, and can't find a project you're comfortable in?

Maybe you found an issue but the scope is too big to start?

There are other ways to get into Open Source! In this talk, we'll cover non-code contributions, the different types there are, and how to get started in a way that works for you.

Spoiler: This is how I got my start in Open Source!

Talk Recording

Slides

Resources

🌈 Comment below and ask me questions — I might just answer them during my live speaker discussion!


About me

Hi! I'm Ramón — a software engineering and developer relations contractor based in Vienna, Austria.

I've spent the last twelve years being directly involved with small businesses and startups getting their apps off the ground or back in shape!

My main motivation is community. I've worked with software builders both new and experienced and dedicated my time to organising conferences, workshops and other events aimed at helping empower folks in their tech journey.

Feel free to reach out on Twitter!


This on-demand talk is part of CodeLand 2022 — a virtual conference brought to you by CodeNewbie & DEV on June 16 & 17, 2022.

Discussion (62)

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amitchell05 profile image
Angela Mitchell

For developers who would be new to open source, would contributing to a project via documentation be better as a first step into open source? What are tips of writing documentation for code that does not contain unit tests?

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Rafael B. Pires

In my experience Angela, that's a good way to start 'cause, even if you do know how to code, maybe you get insecure in the beginning... so, contributing with docs, fixing typos or translation, for instance, could help you get used to the routine of contributing and overcome some apprehensions you may have. In other words, is a great way to settle in!

That said, I'm a newbie myself, but.. IMO, I guess the best way to get to know good documentation is to start reading good documentation yourself haha 😅 I mean, pick up a great and well-known project (it could be sth you're studying) and start reading it, picking up the structure, the language, the style... What do you think?

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hola_soy_milk profile image
Ramón Huidobro Author

Thank you for your question and @rafaelbpires for your great reply!

The advice on reading good documentation is great. After all, documentation is supposed to help us solve problems with the project we're using/contributing to. So our fresh perspective is super valuable!

I have a book recommendation! It's called Docs for Developers:
link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978...

Really helped me understand how to not just write but appreciate good documentation.

But absolutely, any questions, concerns or issues you might have are highly appreciated by maintainers that care about good developer experience :)

Wish you all the best!

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Dennis Tobar • Edited on

Hi Ramón, thanks for your talk :)

Do you that is think effective the label "good for beginners" or "easy-start" to mark some issue or PR to review for newbies? How can we encourage newcomers to start in our projects?

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Ramón Huidobro Author • Edited on

Thank you so much, Dennis!

Absolutely a helpful convention to have! These repos can then be listed at places like Good First Issue:
goodfirstissue.dev/

And even moreso, I'd highly encourage, if possible (and energy allowing!!), to have a "mentorship available" or "mentorship provided" tag for issues, so folks know you're happy to pair with them on those!

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Dennis Tobar • Edited on

Thanks for your answer.

In the past I attend to Wikimedia Hackathon (I'm part of Wikimedia movement, Wikipedia, Wikidata, etc), and my question about newcomers is who says "easy-to-start" issues are really easy to start, because in some cases the easy is create a new button or filtering a list, but both tasks needs a lot of knowledge about Mediawiki (triggers, coding practices and gerrit).

We (developers) have some problem to say what is easy 😅

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mburkhardt52 profile image
Michael Burkhardt

@amitchell05 , I'm with you. I would be more nervous about contributing documentation than code because of how important it can be to newbies like me.

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hola_soy_milk profile image
Ramón Huidobro Author

Totally with you Michael. That's why I think our power as newcomers to a project can really be valuable for the onboarding processes of documentation!

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Gracie Gregory (she/her)

Great talk! Can you talk about a few reasons why you're passionate about Ruby on Rails as a community?

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hola_soy_milk profile image
Ramón Huidobro Author

Thanks, Gracie!

For me it has to be hands down the community here. When I started getting into tech communities about eight years ago, they welcomed me with open arms, and I was so grateful to be able to pay it forward for others coming in later.

I learned a lot about how to be a good community member, the importance of inclusivity, the joy of learning and of course, teaching!

The events, conferences, the people, the opportunities have been incomparable for me, and I wouldn't be in the place I am in tech without them. 💜

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brian bethencourt

How can open source maintainers make their projects more accessible for non-code contributions at the README level?

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hola_soy_milk profile image
Ramón Huidobro Author

Thanks for the question Brian!

I think outlining the need for help in these areas at that level is critical. Same goes for having a set of things for making these inclusive and approachable:

  • A good, strategic, enforced Code of Conduct
  • An outlined governance model (if present)
  • A calendly of office hours or mentorship slots (if possible! Rest is important)
  • Options for getting up and running
  • A thoughtful contribution guide

Just some ideas, but I'm sure there are more!

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Pablo Hernandez

Thank you for such a fun talk that not only educated but treated the material with GR8 care, your presentation was on point and motivating. I wonder what your opinion is in regards to the inclusiveness of the Latino communities in the aspect of both Web/Software Dev. Do you think that the culture needs more leadership from the scientific, engineering, gaming or any related technologies ?

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Ramón Huidobro Author

Thank you so much, Pablo!

This is a really good question that I'm unfortunately not fully qualified to answer, as I'm living in Europe, but I'll try my best.

I can only do my best to reflect the best values of the community so that people on my level of privilege can be uplifting, welcoming, inclusive, and not gatekeep others, and minimize harm.

There are exemplary people and communities out there doing work beyond. For example, there's Pachi (did you see her talk? It was outstanding):
community.codenewbie.org/codeland2...

In the Developer Relations world, there is a growing Spanish-speaking community of folks supporting each other:
twitter.com/i/communities/15153900...

All in all, I have to continue to listen, learn, and use my platform to amplify others. As Scott mentioned yesterday, lend my privilege!

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Pablo Hernandez

I really appreciate your opinion and honesty. It is an honor to hear from you and your positivity, Europe must be an amazing time for developers. I assume that GDPR is the norm for many of your frameworks and policies. Thanks for the resource to the community through that twitter link, I 100% agree that the community should be welcoming, uplifting and inclusive. Here in the U.S. I have not come across groups that have Latino Leadership, I am looking for a grassroots org that welcomes all.
Indeed, lend a privilege...

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fizzybuzzybeezy

So many fun ideas surrounding open source outside of coding, Ramon! Thank you very much for your talk. I've been feeling the pressure over the past year due to my lack to output of hobby code and wondering what I've actually contributed on the whole. I really need to reset my mind to what I can do when I'm not working on coding projects. This is such a great reminder!

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hola_soy_milk profile image
Ramón Huidobro Author

Thank you so much! I definitely don't want to encourage overdoing it or feeling like you always have to be having output.

Good contributions come from a happy, rested, eager mind, so taking time to rest is also critical!

And remember, there are so many projects out there (including our own) that need that care and that help is so appreciated :)

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yuridevat profile image
𝕁𝕦𝕝𝕚𝕒 👩🏻‍💻

Amazing talk Ramón. Getting into open source is indeed not as easy as it sounds. But with your great tips, other doors are opening now for everyone to contribute to open source in any way they feel comfortable with.

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hola_soy_milk profile image
Ramón Huidobro Author

Thank you so much, Julia!

There are so many facets to open source that need helping with that folks should totally feel free to contribute and make their way into others :)

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Michael Burkhardt

I'm not sure when I might be ready (at a level of knowledge) to get involved in an open source project in any way.

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hola_soy_milk profile image
Ramón Huidobro Author • Edited on

I'm a big believer in the fact that you're ready the moment you start using a project. Asking questions is a critical part to open source contributions. Your experience onboarding onto a tool or project is what maintainers need the most, after ages being so focussed on the code.

You've absolutely got this! 💜

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Michael Burkhardt

Thank you so much Ramon. Your energy and excitement is infectious! As a total aside, I just learned about the wild hamsters in the Central Cemetery in Vienna, how cool.

Thread Thread
hola_soy_milk profile image
Ramón Huidobro Author

I... did not know about these, thank you so much! 🐹

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talib1996 profile image
M.Fahad Imtiaz

Tech is not just coding. Rather there are other areas also surrounding it where we can contribute also.
Thanks for this wonderful talk.

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hola_soy_milk profile image
Ramón Huidobro Author

You put it better than I could have hoped to, thank you so much! 💜

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talib1996 profile image
M.Fahad Imtiaz

Always welcome

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carolineschettler

You mentioned that you speak several languages fluently. How has this influenced your career? Has it helped you as a developer or developer advocate in any notable ways?

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hola_soy_milk profile image
Ramón Huidobro Author • Edited on

Oh gosh did I say fluently? I mean Spanish is my first language and my English is good enough I'm told, but my German is... even okayer haha!

I've been fortunate to be able to work with German-speaking clients during my time as a freelance software dev, realising being able to leverage my skills in communication with clients (and not having to write text in German) meant that I could collaborate without much issue and without the need for perfect grammar.

I have more recently started exploring the Latam world of sotware development advocacy. I've recently been working on a "Fundamentos de TypeScript" (TypeScript Fundamentals) course in collaboration with Escuela Frontend:
escuelafrontend.com/

When it comes to Developer Relations in Spanish, I'm very eager to recommend their Twitter community:
twitter.com/i/communities/15153900...

They host a Twitter Space every two weeks exploring the world of Spanish Developer Relations, which has been amazing to watch!

Doing so has been a positive challenge. Being able to connect with people from different parts and gather insight as well as perspectives on issues faced by developers has been beneficial.

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carolineschettler profile image
carolineschettler

You mentioned that you speak several languages fluently. How has this influenced your career? Has it helped you as a developer or developer advocate in any notable ways?

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hola_soy_milk profile image
Ramón Huidobro Author

Oh gosh did I say fluently? I mean Spanish is my first language and my English is good enough I'm told, but my German is... even okayer haha!

I've been fortunate to be able to work with German-speaking clients during my time as a freelance software dev, realising being able to leverage my skills in communication with clients (and not having to write text in German) meant that I could collaborate without much issue and without the need for perfect grammar.

I have more recently started exploring the Latam world of sotware development advocacy. I've recently been working on a "Fundamentos de TypeScript" (TypeScript Fundamentals) course in collaboration with Escuela Frontend:
escuelafrontend.com/

When it comes to Developer Relations in Spanish, I'm very eager to recommend their Twitter community:
twitter.com/i/communities/15153900...

They host a Twitter Space every two weeks exploring the world of Spanish Developer Relations, which has been amazing to watch!

Doing so has been a positive challenge. Being able to connect with people from different parts and gather insight as well as perspectives on issues faced by developers has been beneficial.

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Juan F Gonzalez

Hola Ramon. Do you happen to know about OSS projects that would need that sort of non-coding help that you've seen or know about?

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hola_soy_milk profile image
Ramón Huidobro Author

Heyhey Juan!

I can definitely recommend a place to look for these! One of my favourite platforms is OpenSauced:
opensauced.pizza/

This'll help you find projects as well as contributors.

Shameless little plug for a project I'm collaborating with that definitely needs support is Distribute Aid:
github.com/distributeaid/

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FaruqJada

How do you relate open source to advocacy in the software industry?

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Ramón Huidobro Author

What a great question!

I think it comes with the job title, right, advocating for developers. With open source, I have the opportunity to make it as easy as possible for others to not just use the tool, but make it as easy as possible for them to contribute, as needed, should they want to.

And this comes with a lot of responsibilities in terms of aspects like code of conduct enforcement, proper communication, pair programming, and eliminating barriers to entry, listening for feedback, creating content, etc!

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Michael Tharrington

How has interacting with other open source contributors and maintainers helped you deal with impostor's syndrome?

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Ramón Huidobro Author

It has been a striking reminder of the fact that we are all human, we all have our own things going on, and that help in areas maintainers don't have the bandwidth to... well, maintain! is super appreciated.

At the same time, if somebody doesn't get back to me after I submit a PR, or writes to me with gratitude but can't merge it, I remember it's not personal, like Angie said in her talk!
community.codenewbie.org/codeland2...

Having been a contributor myself has also helped me with working with contributors to projects I'm maintaining. The most important part is to, above all, practice continued empathy. We all are starting out on codebases/projects on an ongoing basis, and this can be hard. If I can make this as easy as possible for folks and to show them that I am also wrangling my own impostor syndrome, then I absolutely will.

Thank you for this question, Michael!

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gadodds

Great talk! Thank you for all the suggestions and ideas!

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hola_soy_milk profile image
Ramón Huidobro Author

Yay! Thank you so much for watching and your kind words 💜

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TJ Phan

First of all, I love your energy, please be my friend haha.

How do I balance my self-studies versus the amount of time spent on open source pursuits, as someone in the early stage of a developer career? Should the open source projects be more important than self-studies?

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hola_soy_milk profile image
Ramón Huidobro Author

TJ! Please be my friend too!

Ooof this is a good question, and something I've been wrangling myself.

Over time, I've had a growing belief that for better or for worse, there is no optimal path to learning tech that applies for everyone. It takes (self) discovery to find one that works for you.

Going about non-code contributing open source by doing things that I felt comfortable doing throughout my journey has helped me meet others and collaborate accordingly.

One thing that worked for me early in mine is to not get stuck in tutorials, always thinking I had to keep learning before I could get out there and try things. I started with fun little projects, just for me, mostly for a lugh, just to learn to get stuck. And goodness me, did I get stuck, a lot!

Maybe it could help to reframe and think of open source contributing and self-studies as one and the same? Put out some stuff there!

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Lara Krefski

Interesting ideas on how you contribute without writing code. I will have to start trying some of these.

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hola_soy_milk profile image
Ramón Huidobro Author

Thank you, eager to know how it goes!

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Hussain Codes

I really enjoyed this talk because it made me realize that there are so many avenues to contribute to open source outside of code!

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Ramón Huidobro Author

That means I did my job well, thank you so much Hussain! 💜

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Aigars Pluģis

Interesting topic in my opinion!
World is gonna rule on open-source if everyone (or most of us) will take a part to spread word and help to see those opportunities.

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Ramón Huidobro Author

Thanks, Aigars! Doing our part to contribute in any way we can 💜

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Logan

What's an easy way to find an open source project to contribute?

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hola_soy_milk profile image
Ramón Huidobro Author

Sure thing! One of my favourite platforms is OpenSauced:
opensauced.pizza/

This'll help you find projects.

Others include:
goodfirstissue.dev/
codetriage.com/what

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Valeria Cerpa Salas

This is an activity that is definitely on my list, I hope to practice the next two months what I learned in the bootcamp I'm taking and from there to be able to write code in open source.

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Ramón Huidobro Author

You've got this, Valeria!! 💜

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Anja

I loved your talk and thoughts, thanks Ramón!

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Ramón Huidobro Author

Very kind, thanks, Anja! 💜

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Kit Fenrir Amreik

How do you find and connect with open source projects on GitHub?

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Ramón Huidobro Author

Heyhey Kit!

I can definitely recommend a place to look for these! One of my favourite platforms is OpenSauced:
opensauced.pizza/

This'll help you find projects as well as contributors.

Others include:
goodfirstissue.dev/
codetriage.com/what

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Jeffrey ‘King the Asix’ Willis

I hate that I miss this talk and look forward to checking the recording. I've always wanted to start contributing to open source projects but I usually get really intimidated.

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Ramón Huidobro Author

The recording is always there!

I totally feel you, Jeffrey. Just remember we all start somewhere and every new project is a new experience and we have to onboard and get familiar with it.

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Em

Great talk! Definitely a video I'm sharing with my colleagues at work.

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Ramón Huidobro Author

Very kind of you to say, thanks, Em! 💜 Hope it helps y'all

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αrεpï†αš ƈơŋ ςαƒé҉

Thank you for this presentation -- super helpful, and tons to consider

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Ramón Huidobro Author

Much appreciated!! 💜

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Phaveey

Thank you, Ramon!

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Ramón Huidobro Author

Thank you, Phaveey! 💜