129 votes
Accepted

How to contribute to Open Source as a non-programmer?

There are lots of things to do around open source projects which do not require any programming knowledge at all. Among them are things like: User Documentation: Programmers love writing code but ...
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  • 11.3k
50 votes
Accepted

How to deal with contributors who write very bad quality code?

Define objective criteria that any contribution must fulfill. Automate checks for these criteria, using unit tests, linters, code coverage tools, …, then automatically run these checks for each PR as ...
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  • 33.2k
48 votes
Accepted

How to explain to users that we do this in our spare time?

Put it on the front page. Put it in a pinned message at the top of the forum. Stop worrying about it. Find a way to create a marketplace where people can put up money if they care to, and someone ...
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  • 4,119
45 votes

How to contribute to Open Source as a non-programmer?

Testing. You don't have to be a programmer to test a program. Use the program as it's designed to be used, but also use the program at the extremes or with "corner cases" to try to break it. In ...
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44 votes
Accepted

Is it legal for the author of an open source project to remove history of contributors' commits?

Nearly all free software licences require the preservation of existing copyright notices. If the author of a piece of GPLv3 software accepted your modified version, then since this code had to be ...
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  • 37.9k
42 votes
Accepted

Is it legal to have the "// (c) 2019 John Smith" header in all files when there are hundreds of contributors?

As far as I am aware, all FLOSS licenses that deal with copyright notices only require the preservation of notices that exist. Each author had the opportunity to add their own name to header when they ...
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  • 30.9k
33 votes
Accepted

How do I become a regular contributor to GitHub FOSS projects?

what is the best way to go about being an active, influential FOSS contributor? The two goals I bolded that you seem to be asking about are quite different. Many open source projects start because ...
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  • 1,756
24 votes
Accepted

Can I select who can contribute to my Open Source Project?

You, as the maintainer, can decide what you merge into your project. That doesn't prevent others from forking and maintaining their own version of the code though. If you post the code to some place ...
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  • 708
24 votes
Accepted

How can I convert users to contributors?

Make it clear that you want contributions. Make it easy. I would start by putting a friendly note in your project's ReadMe file. This project is looking for contributors. If you have a feature ...
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  • 4,988
22 votes
Accepted

FLOSS projects : How and where can I start contributing?

Where can I start contributing? There are two obvious stages to this: pick a language, pick a project. Pick a language You should pick a language with which you are familiar and proficient. I'd ...
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  • 8,700
22 votes

How to contribute to Open Source as a non-programmer?

You might want to check out e.g. Fedora's page on how and for what to join. You'll see plenty of tasks for non-programmers. Some of the highly regarded members of the Fedora community don't do any ...
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  • 4,989
21 votes

What are the benefits of having a benevolent dictator for life (BDFL) on OSS?

I would say that projects having a BDFL ultimately trust the vision of the project to one person, as opposed to design by committee. You can refer to the list of BDFLs. Many of the individuals listed ...
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  • 1,756
20 votes

How can I get contributors to document properly?

Don't merge, unless it meets your demands. All contributions are welcome, but only those that meet your standards are merged. Whether that is test coverage, a style guide, or documentation, it ...
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  • 8,986
19 votes
Accepted

How do I deal with (enthusiastic) contributors who damage more than they help?

Linus Torvalds has talked about his experience on this subject; the book Producing Open Source Software also has a section that deals with difficult people, which is mostly related. If you want to ...
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  • 8,463
19 votes
Accepted

Should I feel guilty for one off contributions?

One-off contributions are the most common type of contribution in open source projects. It would be very disturbing to know that, by running an open source project, I'm spreading guilt throughout the ...
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  • 8,463
19 votes

How do I become a regular contributor to GitHub FOSS projects?

Most FLOSS projects are a kind of meritocracy: those who contribute(d) a lot, they have a say. The well-known projects are not new projects and especially the maintainers often work on them for many ...
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  • 8,270
19 votes
Accepted

What are the benefits of having a benevolent dictator for life (BDFL) on OSS?

I've always seen the BDFL model as halfway between a traditional open-source project structure and a traditional corporate project structure. You have the openness, transparency, and general culture ...
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  • 726
17 votes

Contributing as a company

There are two issues here: Managing copyright and licensing of the company's contributions in a legally rigorous way, including corporate agreement to the project's CLA, if any. The use of a single ...
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  • 30.9k
16 votes
Accepted

Copyright and Contributing to an Open Source Project

This is where the problem (or advantage) of multiple copyright owners comes in with open projects. There are two scenarios, based on whether a Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA) is required to ...
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  • 6,695
16 votes
Accepted

What are the upsides for a company to contribute to an open-source software they use?

Advantages Reduced maintenance. If a company uses custom patches, every time upstream changes, the company has to re-apply those patches when they update their custom version. This gets worse when ...
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  • 8,463
16 votes

How to explain to users that we do this in our spare time?

I have started utilizing BountySource. If people are hounding you about an issue/pull request, you can edit the issue to include code similar to this: <bountysource-plugin> [![Bountysource][1]][...
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  • 286
16 votes
Accepted

How to prevent contributors from claiming copyright on my LGPL-released software?

This is a legitimate issue that's come up various times in the past on various open source projects. The way it's typically handled is by not accepting external contributions into your repository ...
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15 votes

How can I convert users to contributors?

To me, this question is very similar to how do I attract customers to my business? except instead of cash, you want contributions. Successful salespeople deeply understand their customers' needs and ...
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  • 8,463
15 votes
Accepted

Authors and contributors of forked project

Should I list myself as author, and original author as contributor? Or should I somehow refer to the company in general? Or it is legal to only mention myself here (and leave the reference to ...
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  • 37.9k
14 votes

Can I select who can contribute to my Open Source Project?

I think you're mixing up two concepts here. The quote you provided is for people using your software. If you want your software to be open source, you have to accept that everyone is permitted to use ...
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  • 10.8k
14 votes
Accepted

What should I do if maintainers are unresponsive/how can I become a maintainer?

The primary way to contribute is by pull requests, just like you said. If your pull requests aren't accepted and you do not get any comments the project might as well be abandoned. In this case I ...
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  • 441
14 votes

How to prevent contributors from claiming copyright on my LGPL-released software?

We have run into this problem in libpng. We addressed it by putting any contributions that insist on keeping their own copyright, or are under a different open source license, into a "contrib" ...
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14 votes
Accepted

Do Contributors Own Copyright After Sending Contributions?

The common understanding is to consider that contributions are made under the same license as the project these are contributed to (unless stated otherwise). On GitHub, this is made explicit in the ...
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14 votes

How do I become a regular contributor to GitHub FOSS projects?

Be more of a team player. Comments like There's always an "in" group that's running things about how the project works and aren't accepting of new ideas and innovations even if they are backed up ...
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