Mandar and I (Britta) both hang out in the OpenHatch IRC channel, and I asked him to write a little about his experience as a relatively new contributor to the project.
I’m a semi-recent Masters graduate from the University of Michigan, and I live in Ann Arbor, where I work in the field of computer networks. I started programming a little in high school, studied electrical engineering, and became interested in Python while using it in data analysis projects in college.
I don’t remember how I found OpenHatch, but it was probably through searching for something like “how to contribute to open source”. I found a couple of bugs in OpenHatch and reported them. I also hung out on #openhatch on Freenode, and the people there were very supportive toward contributing. So, I decided to submit some patches to try and fix some of the issues with the site. They were reviewed and accepted pretty quickly.
Before this, I had been using open source software for a while, but the closest I got to contributing code on a volunteer basis was doing data analysis for non-profits at the A2 DataDive event. We put our efforts on GitHub, but they were largely one-time.
What is it like to participate in OpenHatch?
Contributing to open source projects often requires a relatively large amount of activation energy – including complicated workflows with CC’ing people on emails, mailing patches, filing a bug with a Request For Packaging, etc. In contrast, I have found this to be fairly low for OpenHatch – you submit a pull request on GitHub, and it gets reviewed.
I have also found help with contributing to other projects from people I first talked to on #openhatch, specifically Paul Tagliamonte who walked me through how to package a simple project for Debian.
What are your goals for OpenHatch, and for yourself?
OpenHatch aims to index bugs from different Open Source projects and collect them in one place; so people who are interested can work on them. Indexing these bugs from all the different bugtrackers can be hard — for example, you don’t really want to showcase a bug that has already been fixed by someone else, but hasn’t been closed. I think there is ample scope for improving the existing interface, which I would love to work towards.
For myself — I work on Open Source primarily on a hobbyist basis, because I love to tinker with things. Yet, since my college days, I have found great value in using Free and Open Source software such as Emacs, git, and Debian GNU/Linux. So far, I have liberally used the “free as in beer” aspect of it; I might like to give back by contributing to some of these projects via the “free as in speech” bit.
You can learn more about what OpenHatch has been working on (and support it with a donation) on our 2014 fundraising page.