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GitHub Shows How to Get Started with Open Source

With open source software "eating the world," many developers might be hungering to get a seat at the dinner table, so GitHub Inc. has published guides to do just that.

The giant open source code repository earlier this month published Open Source Guides that provide resources explaining how to get involved.

"Participating in open source can be incredibly rewarding, but it's not always obvious how to make your first contribution, start a new project or build an active community," said GitHub in a blog post.

Those tasks and more are explained in the first batch of guides.

Specifically, the initial 10 guides provided on the site include:

  • How to Contribute to Open Source
  • Starting an Open Source Project
  • Finding Users for Your Project
  • Building Welcoming Communities
  • Best Practices for Maintainers
  • Leadership and Governance
  • Getting Paid for Open Source Work
  • Your Code of Conduct
  • Open Source Metrics
  • The Legal Side of Open Source

The "how to contribute" guide, for example, shows how individuals (or companies or communities) aren't required to submit open source code -- rather, they can help with documentation (even fixing typos), planning events, helping with design, helping people out by answering questions and so on.

"Open Source Guides are a resource and a discussion forum," the project's GitHub site states. "One reason we started this project is because we felt that there weren't enough resources for people creating open source projects. We made these guides open source in hopes that you'll use this space to talk about best practices, then document them when you've found consensus. We'd like this to be a safe space to talk about what's hard, what's scary, and what's simply confusing about running open source projects."

GitHub specified that although it launched and manages the project -- with help from non-GitHub community reviewers -- the guides aren't limited to GitHub-specific projects. "Our goal is to aggregate community best practices, not what GitHub (or any other individual or entity) thinks is best," the project site states. "Therefore, we try to use examples and quotations from others to illustrate our points."

A project roadmap indicates more work to be done in the second quarter of the year, such as improving guide discoverability for open source creators and expanding to include content for consumers.

The project's content is licensed under CC-BY-4.0, "which gives you permission to use content for almost any purpose (but does not grant you any trademark permissions), so long as you note the license and give credit."

As the Open Source Guides are themselves open source, GitHub encourages contributions to the project. To learn how, just consult "How to Contribute to Open Source."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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