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What is an acceptable expenditure of time when it comes to contributing to open source software projects from the workplace?

I would suggest that people contribute to open source software projects in the following ways from the office:

  • Submit patches, if you have to fix it anyway, everyone else may as well benefit from your efforts
  • Submit small features, if you have to add to it a little bit to get it to do what you need it to do, you might as well share your results
  • Start/maintain tooling packages, if you can offset some of the development cost of building tools by having folks from the open source community help you flesh out your toolset, you might as well
  • Bottom line, remember you have a job to perform, in most cases, your job duties don't consist solely of contributing to open source projects

When it comes to open source projects, I believe in the principle of what goes around comes around. If you commit high quality working code to a project, you are going to get more of the same from someone else without asking for it. I would ask for it anyway though. If there is someone in your town who uses the same open source tools that you do, encourage them to become a commiter to one of those projects if they aren't already. The best work comes from people who are passionate about it, so there seems to be little sense in stopping someone from building a tool who really needs it as long as they are getting work done in a timely fashion.

Posted on Thursday, November 29, 2007 5:19 AM | Back to top


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