Use your open source contributions to get a job

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unspoken blockers

One night, after reading the Who’s Hiring Freelance thread on HackerNews, I decided there had to be a more efficient way to match programmers with freelance jobs. While sites like oDesk and eLance are general-purpose marketplaces for freelance workers, they seem to have more of an emphasis on price than quality. On the other hand, sites like TopTal and ooomf vet freelance programmers that apply to join the site by screening the candidates. So, while I’m sure they have a pool of excellent programmers for hire, they require applicants to spend time on a process that may or may not yield work opportunities, even if they get accepted.

So, I started CodeDoor, a platform

that limits the vetting process to if you have contributed to open source. If yes, you're in. Companies or persons looking to hire freelance programmers can then decide for themselves whether a candidate fits their needs based on their portfolio of code and other projects. I set the minimum threshold to having at least one commit in a GitHub repository that has garnered at least 25 stars. In the case of a freelancer who only contributes in a minor or small way to a project, like fixing a typo, that exact work can be seen and then judged by the person looking to hire.

If you would like to use CodeDoor as a company or person looking to hire a freelance programmer, you can search by skill and hourly rate. When you find a programmer you are interested in contacting, register with the site using your GitHub account. Then, you can start a contract with a programmer you agree to terms with, and pay CodeDoor (who pays the freelancer) for time billed.

To use CodeDoor as a freelance programmer, register with the site using your GitHub account. Set your rate and other terms in your profile. In order to qualify as a freelancer with CodeDoor, you need at least one commit on a public GitHub repository with at least 25 stars. If you have contributed to a prominent open source project that is hosted on a different repository, you can gain access by sending a support email to CodeDoor.

Some programmers dislike the fact that many software companies put more emphasis on algorithm exercises during interviews rather than real-world experience with open source code. My take is that this is because most programmers only list the open source projects that they have started themselves, which are usually not very popular.

When evaluating source code, the goal is to determine whether the code is clean and whether the code produces its intended behavior in a robust manner. The latter is deceptively difficult to do because the corresponding spec is not attached, and the reader of the code usually does not have domain knowledge related to the open source code. However, when a programmer has contributed to a major open source project, the code's behavior has been vetted by the project maintainer, thus producing a stronger hiring signal.

Go out and contribute to popular open source projects! It's good for your resume, and it's good for the rest of us.

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Ronnie Cheng is a founder of CodeDoor, a marketplace for freelance programmers that have contributed to open source. Prior to that, he worked at Facebook and Samasource, a social enterprise that connects people living in poverty with life-changing work opportunities via the Internet. He is a graduate of Columbia University, where he majored in Computer Science and minored in Economics.


What about major contributors to projects who have home repositories not on Github? Drupal comes to mind.


Right now, if you've contributed to a major repo not on Github, you just send an email to, and then I add you after doing a manual verification.


Sweet! Good to know, thanks! - jam.

Freelancing is really fun if you use the right sites to see your potiential like ... only saying that because they are the fastest growing site and only site that is commission free as well.

Agree with the "why only github?" objection. Very limiting.

Isn't this exactly what does...?

And besides code there are many more ways to contribute to open source...
- project management
- organize events
- write documentation/ tutorials
- moderate on forums
- build the website for the product
- spread the word/ marketing efforts
- ...


I agree that it would be better to support all repositories automatically, but the manual verification for other repositories has worked reasonably well for now. You can add your ohloh account to your CodeDoor profile.


Ohloh is a great site, but it is not geared towards finding freelance work. You don't know if the users on the site freelance, or what rates they are charging.

Yes, there are other ways to contribute to open source, but CodeDoor is specific in the value it is trying to provide. After it grows bigger, perhaps there would be a good way to reward people who contribute to open source in other ways.

Its a great initiative Ronnie. As a recent graduate seeking new opportunities and a regular contributor to open source, I think CodeDoor is a very helpful platform.

thanks for sharing this with us !!

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