Making Open Work
May 8–9, 2017: Training & Tutorials
May 10–11, 2017: Conference
Austin, TX

How can I contribute? A guide to making your first open source contribution

Lucy Wyman (Puppet)
11:00am11:40am Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Open Source: From Consumer to Contributor
Location: Meeting Room 9C
Level: Beginner
Average rating: ****.
(4.00, 6 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Technologists of every discipline and experience level who are new to open source

Prerequisite knowledge

  • A basic understanding of what open source software is

What you'll learn

  • Discover different, unexpected ways you can contribute to open source software, how to find a project to contribute to, and concrete steps for making their first contribution


Contributing to open source is a great way to give back to a project you care about, grow a community around software, and help make a project more useful. But often those who want to contribute have a few assumptions or misconceptions that prevent them from making that first pull request, including:

  • I’m not a good enough programmer to contribute to open source.
  • I don’t know the repo well enough to contribute.
  • I don’t write code, so I have nothing to contribute.
  • I’m just a student/community member/manager/llama. I don’t have anything to contribute.
  • Contributing to open source is hard.
  • Contributing to open source doesn’t benefit me at all.

If those sound familiar, this talk is for you. Lucy Wyman discusses several ways open source projects need your help, what to look for in a project you’re contributing to, and some first steps to making your first pull request. The truth is that everyone who uses a technology can help that technology, whether by submitting a bug report, correcting a spelling error in documentation, submitting a patch to fix a bug, adding unit tests, updating dependencies. . .the list goes on.

Topics include:

  • Common things a repository may need help with (legal, documentation, bug reporting, updates, etc.)
  • Skills you have, and how to use them to help a project
  • Determining what a repository needs
  • What to look for in a repository when you’re thinking of contributing
  • How to submit your first contribution
Photo of Lucy Wyman

Lucy Wyman


Lucy Wyman is a software engineer at Puppet, where she works on the company’s open source remote task runner Bolt. Previously, she was a frontend engineer for Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab. Lucy holds a BS in computer science from Oregon State University. In her free time, she likes hanging out with friends, hiking, experiencing new things, and enjoying a wide variety of podcasts, TV shows, blogs, books, and other media. You can find out more on her blog.