Community Contributions: A Follow-Up

Python    Django    PyCon    DjangoCon    Girl Geeks    2012-12-04

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about contributing to community. A month later, that post was republished by the folks at Red Hat, in their online magazine When that article went up, I had a chance to read through it again and realized that there were a few things I forgot the first time around.

In case there was any question, here's why community is so important: Lynn Root's PyCarolinas Keynote: Community FTW

As with the first article, I'm focused on the communities in which I am actively involved - Django and Python - but I'm convinced that these suggestions apply to just about any open source community. On that note, here are some additional things you can do if you want to give back to open source:

  1. Answer questions in user groups. The two most active user groups in the Python world are probably Django users and comp.lang.python. Yes, sometimes the same questions seem to be asked over and over again, but there are always people new to the language or framework who need help finding their way - be a pal and help them find answers.

  2. Answer questions on StackOverflow. StackOverflow has channels for both Python and Django. Maybe in the course of reading through the questions other users pose, you'll find that weird use case that you had to deal with once - maybe the solution you came up will help someone else. Check in periodically, or just subscribe to the feeds (Django, Python) to get the latest questions. (And if you are looking to contribute in some other language, operating system, database, etc. check out SO's main tags page - there's a plethora of channels to choose from:

  3. Answer questions on Reddit. That's right - Reddit has very active Python and Django channels as well.

  4. Get involved in discussions on IRC. A couple of active channels to join on freenode are: #django, #python, and #pyladies. I also hang out in #postgresql from time to time. There are always new people coming in looking for help. If you're not that familiar with how IRC works, or you need a quick refresher, there's a great set of instructions on the PyLadies site: IRC Instructions

  5. Volunteer to help a new speaker. Have you done any conference speaking in the past? Are you a seasoned pro by now? If so, you can volunteer to mentor other developers who are just getting started. Help them through the process of drafting a talk proposal, give them your best advice on putting together slides, and by all means, if you've figured out how to manage stage fright, make with the tips! There's a new community in town - - where you can create a bio, join a mailing list, and partner up with someone who needs your guidance.

  6. Meet other programmers face to face! I mentioned this in the last post, but it bears repeating. Probably the most effective way to give back to the community is to get involved on a personal level. Volunteer to help teach a class through groups like Code Scouts, GirlDevelopIt, PyLadies, and Women Who Code. Find a local meetup and offer to give a talk. If your town doesn't have a Python, Django, or other meetup group, start one! And keep an eye out for hackathons! (An interesting one that popped up on my radar a few weeks ago: Call to citizens to fight against government corruption!, hosted by Montreal Python)

  7. Attend conferences. In my world, PyCon US and DjangoCon US are the two big events of the year. In some cases, those two conferences are the only annual opportunities I have to spend time with friends from across the globe. Aside from that, they present some great learning opportunities - just take a look at the recently announced PyCon US talk schedule for 2013: But yes, those big conferences can also be expensive and hard to get to. Luckily there are also smaller regional conferences in the US, such as PyCarolinas, PyArkansas, and PyOhio. And if you happen not to be in the US and don't want to travel here, there are also a few dozen international Python conferences - a complete list can be found at And let's not forget Euro DjangoCon, to be held next year in Warsaw, Poland. If you're not at all interested in Python or Django conferences, congratulations on making it this far - for you I have: RailsConf, OS Bridge, OSCON, a host of Linux and JavaScript events, and Postgres Open, just to name a few. Go. It'll change your life, swear to God. (Apologies for the reference to my favorite surfing movie - double points if you can guess what it is.)

Original post: Open Source Contributions Come In All Shapes And Sizes
Republished by Red Hat: Contribute to an open source project no matter your experience level