Julia Evans

Learning at open source sprints (no preparation required)

I’m someone who isn’t heavily involved in contributing code to OSS, and normally go to sprints just to learn something new, and not with any particular goals. This has never worked out that well for me, but I had a new idea yesterday! Maybe if you’re like me it will help you.

I was talking to someone yesterday about contributing to a relatively complicated open source project during the sprints. And we worked out that they were super super interested in learning about the project’s internals, and didn’t necessarily need to contribute to the project!

Contributing to a project for the first time is hard. There’s a lot you need to know! And the area of the project you’re interested in might not necessarily need contributions right now! Or you might not be able to make the contribution you’re interested in on your first 3 days.

So we came up with an AWESOME IDEA. Instead of trying to write a contribution, change the goals! The next time I go to a sprint, I think I’ll just

  1. pick a project I’m interested in
  2. decide on a thing I’d like to learn about that project
  3. start digging into the project, running code, and learn about that thing
  4. not worry about contributing

For me, I think this could be way more fun and that I’d learn a lot more. And it would be fun to do this stuff near the team who works on the project, regardless of whether or not they have time to help me :)

And maybe, while exploring with no particular goal, I’d find a change that needs making! :) Or if I wanted to contribute to the project 6 months down the road, I’d be a little more prepared to do that.