It’s been 6 months since I’ve been contributing with a pseudonymous account to several open source projects, it started with me fixing some typos, but right now I contribute about 20 hours a week to open source projects, and I love it.
When I explain what I do to friends that do not code they don’t understand why would I just donate from my time and not get anything quantifiable (in their eyes) like money or reputation in return, here are a few things I am improving since I started contributing to open source projects:
Giving back without expectations
I start to believe more in contentment coming from giving rather than taking or achieving, this can be problematic from a financial point of view but I believe we just need to follow our passions and the rest will take care of itself.
Open source and specially working with anonymous people to solve a specific problem is all about giving to a cause and not about our personal beleifs or who we are as a person.
Wether the open source project is small, stupid, big or will help someone, is irrelevant. In an age where everyone wants to take from you money or attention (ads , influencers, etc) and most things feel fake, it feels very good to know there are many people just giving for something they believe in.
note: I think there is no such thing as 100% giving since you’ll always get something out of giving, even if you give just because it feels good or makes you think you are a better person, you are giving to “get” and because of your ego.
Expressing myself better
Is not secret within my inner circle that I am not the best at expressing myself (one of the reasons why I am starting to write more). With open source, only ideas and code matter so it makes you think what you really want to convey and get down to the core of it.
It also helps with mental clarity outside of coding, I see benefits of this already for some day to day interactions and decision making.
Becoming a better programmer
I never cared about beautiful code (and still don’t), I am more of a maker then a programmer so if my code does what I need it to do, it is enough for me.
Contributing to open source requires you to write good code and understand the code of libraries or cryptocurrency protocols and what makes them work. Being able to understand all that code and add to it, proves me that everything can be learned and makes me feel confident about my ability as a programmer and that I’m proficient enough to create pretty much any projects I want (with hard work and dedication).