Me, asking how many people used open source software
By Érico Andrei

Open Source Matters: Why You Should Contribute Now

Following the shockwave caused by the announcement of a backdoor in XZ—particularly Evan Boehs's detailed timeline of how attackers compromised XZ—I felt compelled to revisit a central theme from my keynote at PythonBrasil 2023: the importance of contributing to open-source projects.

A Brief History of My Open Source Journey

With over three decades of engagement in open source, I've traversed a path from a curious Slackware user on IRC, to a contributor of patches and translations, and eventually, to a role as a full-time developer, evangelist, and maintainer. My journey has introduced me to diverse communities, cultures, and "benevolent dictators for life," teaching me the critical importance of encouraging participation in the development of software we rely on.

Beyond Code: The Essence of Open Source

Mario Sérgio and me
Open source is also about evangelizing and helping on board new members

While software consists of instructions, data, or programs designed to perform specific tasks, open-source software embodies more. Successful projects demand various skills: robust documentation, a welcoming community to guide newcomers, issue triage by diligent managers, and enthusiastic evangelists to grow the project's reach.

Major projects like Linux, Kubernetes, and Python benefit from corporate backing, providing essential resources and support. Meanwhile, community-managed initiatives like Plone thrive thanks to a dedicated volunteer base. Projects such as FastAPI or Py5 seem powered by tireless individuals capable of significant contributions across multiple roles.

Your Contribution Is Needed Now

Every open-source project you use and depend on needs your help. Contribution extends beyond code; it's about caring for the tools you use. Consider it akin to maintaining a shared garden with your neighbors: not everyone needs a green thumb. Contributions can range from maintenance tasks to financial support, all vital for the garden's prosperity.

How You Can Contribute

  • Engage in online help forums.
  • Offer assistance to newcomers.
  • Report bugs.
  • Contribute to or review documentation.
  • Share your project experiences through posts or talks.
  • Express your gratitude for projects on social media.
  • Translate content into languages you're fluent in.
  • Donate to support project maintainers.

In recent years, my contributions have spanned code to supporting entities and individuals vital to the open source ecosystem:

  • The Plone Foundation, fostering the CMS and its community.
  • Tiangolo (Sebastián Ramírez), for giving the world FastAPI and Typer.
  • Dunossauro, for his invaluable content for the Brazilian community.
  • Fosstodon, a key space in the Fediverse.
  • Py5, essential for my daily creative endeavors.
  • Alexandre Villares, an exceptional programming educator.
Alexandre Villares
Noite de Processing
Dunossauro and a fan

Act Now: Your Support Matters

Your support keeps the open-source ecosystem alive; Choose a way to contribute and take action today. Even if you lack time, funds, or specific skills, a simple "thank you" on social media to maintainers and community members can make a huge difference.