Finding Contributors for your Open Source Projects

Social Media Wordcloud

Introduction

Github Logo - Open Source ProjectsI have authored a few open source projects including a programming language called Condor and an open source competitor to Google Docs and Microsoft Office called Sublime Word. According to the GitHub Octoverse 2017, there are roughly around 67 million open source repositories. Looking at the repositories that I have published, I have wondered how I can find other contributors to help work on my projects. The following examples below are methods that you can use to help find contributors for your next open source project.

Word of Mouth

From my Mouth

At my current job, when coworkers find out that I am a software engineer, they would often ask me what I like to develop. I take this as an opportunity to let them know about a few of my open source projects, including Condor, the language that I started to develop. As I would explain this to people, they would ask me to send them a link to my repository on GitHub. I would send them a link and they would star the repository.

Word of Mouth From Others

Additionally, my father would tell people about my programming language that I developed and they would ask for a link to the GitHub repository. Some would even fork the repository.

Quora

Asking Questions

Quora Logo - Open Source ProjectsWhile writing an article called, Improving Your Answer to Questions, I thought it would be a good idea to ask a Quora question regarding this topic. Recently, I posted this question again, which you can view on Quora. I received a few thousand views, however, this was not the most effective use of Quora.

Answering Questions

By far, the most effective usage of Quora is answering a question, strongly talking about my programming language. The question I answered was What is the coolest thing you have ever created alone as a programmer? Answering the question, I had received over 25k views on my answer. Since I provided a link to my GitHub repository, I had others star, fork, and watch the repository. I had a few email me and talk about contributing code.

GitHub

Contributing to Other Projects

A great method to finding other contributors is to contribute to other people’s open source projects. Recently, I saw a question on Quora about how a non-technical person can contribute to an open source project. Here was part of my response:

Here are some area that “non-technical” people would contribute greatly:

  • Project Management
  • Design and Usability
  • Testing – test each feature to ensure it’s functioning how it should
  • Marketing – Open source project are more useful if people know about it
  • Tutorials – I am starting to become a contributor to Blender, and a community user creates tutorials that are invaluable on BlenderGuru
  • Documentation – If you want people to have more maintainable code, documentation is key, create or provide edits on the documentation

Doing these things will help build a connection so others will want to contribute to your code.

Messaging Other Contributors

The final method to finding open source contributors is simply by asking. Asking is a great method. It allows you to have somewhat of a personal interaction with those you interact with. I recently gave this a chance. Even though no one contributed code, I had a few star my repository.

Conclusion

Finding contributors will take some work on your end. Just like marketing your open source project/product, you’ll also have to market your project to find developers. If you have any other methods then the ones that I mentioned, let me know!

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