Breaking into Open Source: An Alternative Approach to Finding Your First Contribution

Breaking into Open Source: An Alternative Approach to Finding Your First Contribution

Use the Software, Identify Problems, and Create Your Own Pull Requests

As a software developer, contributing to open-source projects can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, finding a good first issue to work on can sometimes be challenging, especially if you're new to open-source development.

In this blog post, we'll explore an alternative approach that can help you overcome this challenge: using the software, finding a problem, and creating your own pull request.

Focus on Finding Problems Instead of Good First Issues

Many people focus on finding the "good first issues" in open-source software projects, which are issues that are deemed to be easy for newcomers to tackle. While these issues can be a great starting point for new contributors, they can also be highly competitive and may not always align with a contributor's interests or skillset.

An alternative approach is to use the software as a regular user would and identify problems or areas for improvement. This approach allows contributors to tackle issues that are more aligned with their interests and skills and can lead to more meaningful contributions to the project. It also encourages contributors to think critically about the software and how it can be improved, which can lead to more creative and innovative solutions.

Of course, this approach requires a bit more initiative and research on the part of the contributor. They may need to spend more time exploring the software and identifying potential issues and may need to do more research or reach out to the community for help. However, the payoff can be well worth it in terms of personal growth and the impact of their contributions.

Creating a detailed bug report or feature request

Once you've identified a problem, the next step is to create a detailed bug report or feature request. This report should include a clear description of the issue, steps to reproduce it, and any error messages or other relevant information. If you're reporting a bug, it's important to include as much detail as possible, including the version of the software you're using and any other relevant information about your system configuration. On the other hand, if you're proposing a new feature, it's important to explain why you think it would be useful, and how it could be implemented.

Working on a solution

Once you have a clear understanding of the issue, it's time to work on a solution. This could involve writing new code, modifying existing code, or simply changing the configuration of the software. Whatever the solution, it's important to thoroughly test it to ensure that it resolves the issue and doesn't introduce any new problems. Depending on the complexity of the issue, you may need to do some research to find the best solution.

Creating a pull request

Once you have a solution that works, it's time to create a pull request. A pull request is a proposal to merge your changes into the main codebase. When creating a pull request, it's important to follow the project's guidelines for submitting code. This typically involves creating a new branch, committing your changes, and submitting a detailed description of what you've done. You should also make sure that your code is well-documented and follows best practices for the language and framework you're using.

Writing a blog post

In addition to creating a pull request, you may also want to write a blog post about your experience. This can be a great way to share your knowledge and help others who may be struggling to find good first issues. Your blog post should include a detailed description of the issue you identified, how you went about solving it, and any tips or lessons learned along the way. You might also include screenshots or code snippets to help illustrate your process.


In conclusion, if you're having trouble finding good first issues to contribute to open-source projects, using the software to identify and solve problems can be a great alternative approach. By following the steps outlined above, you can create your own pull request and contribute to the open-source community while also improving your own skills and knowledge.

Remember to be patient and persistent, as open-source development can sometimes be a slow and iterative process. With time and practice, you'll become more confident in your ability to contribute to open-source projects and make a positive impact on the software community.

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