How to get involved with open source in 2014

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For open source projects to survive and thrive, it takes all sorts of different people contributing in various ways. We hope you are already participating in the open source community, but if you’re not, 2014 is going to be a great year to start!

Already an open source convert? Why not consider giving back in a new way this year?

Here are seven roles you might consider taking on in the new year.

7 ways to get involved in open source in 2014

  1. Get your start as an open source user. First and foremost, we hope you're an open source user! There are open source solutions for nearly every need you can imagine, and chances are you've already used a few. From browsers like Firefox to email clients like Thunderbird, and content management systems like Drupal and Wordpress, much of the software that powers the Internet is open source. Why not give a new tool a try this year?

  2. Share your favorite project with the world as an open source promoter. The open source community and every project within it needs cheerleaders to spread the word about the benefits of the open source way. Are you a social media junkie? Join us on Facebook, Twitter, or your favorite social media platform, and share your own open source story with the world!

  3. Put your digital quill to work as an open source writer. Writing for open source projects can take many different forms, but two roles that are almost always in need are the documentation writer and the translator. There are lots of tools available to help you document open source projects. A couple we've profiled this year are: Zanata for translators and AsciiDoc for documentation.

    For more general-purpose writing tools, LibreOffice is a complete office suite that can do word processing and so much more!

  4. Let your artistic skill shine as an open source designer. Do you have a knack for design? A strong interface and visual cues can make or break an open source project, and many projects could benefit from your help. If you've got the skills but not the tools, check out GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) or Inkscape to get you started. Both run on several different platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

  5. Keep software bug-free as an open source tester. You don't have to be a quality assurance expert to get started with software testing. If you're using open source software already, you're already halfway there to being a tester. All it takes is sharing your experience if something doesn't seem quite right. Most projects have bug tracking applications that are easy enough for even the novice user to report an issue or make a feature request.

    Thrilled to see a new feature added to your favorite program? Don't forget to say thank you.

  6. Help others learn the ropes as an open source community leader. You can also help build the open source movement by participating in a project's community. Many projects have their own dedicated forums or mailing lists, and there are plenty of spots on the net for participating more generally. Share you experience with others by helping answer questions from all sorts of users, from novice to expert. Stack Exchange hosts conversations around a variety of open source tools.

  7. Write code as an open source developer. We say it a lot around here that the open source way applies to much more than just software development. But code still matters! If you haven't tried your hand at programming yet, 2014 should be your year to get started. There are tons of great resources out there for beginners to get started and for fledgling programmers to further build their skillsets.

    Go here to learn to program the open source way?

Take your pick

With so many different options for participating, anyone can join the open source community. How are you going to make 2014 your year of open source? Pick your role, and feel free to pick more than one! Need more guidance and inspiration? has these resources to help you get started.

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Jason was an staff member and Red Hatter from 2013 to 2022. This profile contains his work-related articles from that time. Other contributions can be found on his personal account.


Very insightful and much needed article Jason. Getting involved in an open source project is a very fulfilling journey. A lot of people want to join but need proper guidance as to how to start or what channels are available through which they can contribute.

i agree with you.

Great article. I use some open source graphics software (Blender, Krita, Inkscape, Scribus) when designing some of my things and I support them by bug tracking them, going on about them to friends and colleagues and occasionally writing about them.

In #4, you mean "cues" in "visual queues," don't you?

Good catch, fixed. Thanks!


I am a software developer with 6-7 years of experience in ASP.NET, C#, SSRS technologies. I would like to contribute in open source project development. IF anyone could suggest where can I get guidance for this or where and whom should I approach for this, that will help.


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