Open Source Community Participation

I wonder why more open source users do not actively participate in the open source community and become committers or contributors.  My open source participation led to a cost efficient and adaptable infrastructure for my company, and useful trade experience skills on my resume.  My open source contributions established a professional network of mentors and improved my understanding of the project.   Becoming an open source committer enhanced by personal brand, increased business opportunities, and filled important open source project gaps.

Interacting with open source community committers and recommending source code hacks is a valuable experience.   During 2001-2003, I had the opportunity to interact with many hard-core, professional open source luminaries (e.g. Sam Ruby, James Snell, Glenn Daniels, Dims, Steve Loughran, and Sanjiva Weerawarana) across multiple organizations while participating in the Apache Axis project.  I watched the distributed Axis team advance the project via IRC, code check-ins, and mailing list interactions.  After understanding the project’s capabilities and roadmap (by writing many sample code service clients and providers), I gained the knowledge to start directly hacking the source code and contributing useful extensions.   My everlasting thanks to Glenn Daniels for nominating me to be a committer!  The open source community and committer experience established my open source street creds, raised my personal brand,  led to presenting from the OSCON stage (and others), and helped build my consulting business.

My Apache Axis participation (as an independent XML web services consultant) a decade ago has introduced me to many helpful individuals (e.g. Anne Thomas Manes, Michele Leroux Bustamante, and Burr Sutter ) and opened many opportunities.  With the upside so high and barrier to entry low (don’t have to move, be employed by a Valley startup, give up your day job, or wait for a 4 years for a degree), I wonder why more open source users do not actively participate in the open source community and become  committers or contributors.


Today’s open source is competitive (or even more advanced than) with proprietary software, and delivered without proprietary handcuffs.  By integrating and enhancing leading, best-of-breed open source projects, WSO2 extends Apache projects (and other leading OSS projects not hosted in Apache) into a comprehensive cloud platform.   The WSO2 Apache Way web page lists key embedded projects, and the impressive list of WSO2 individuals who are Apache committers.  By building on external open source projects, WSO2 is able to interact with the innovative thought leaders from Twitter, FaceBook, Google, IBM, Red Hat, and Netflix to advance open source value.

 Call To Action

Donnie Berkholz at RedMonk has a good blog post describing How to recruit open-source contributors.  I am following Donnie Berkholz‘s advice and reaching out to request your participation as we take the most complete and composable open source WSO2 Carbon platform to the next level.


Has your team built any platform, management or framework code that you would like to see directly incorporated into WSO2 Carbon? Are you a GitHub project owner and your code could enhance the WSO2 platform and be helpful to thousands of WSO2 users?


We welcome your participation in the WSO2 and Apache open source community!  Contact us today to explore community involvement opportunities and contributions.

Pragmatic Recommendations On How To Get Started with Open Source Community Participation

Jeremy Mikola has shared a slide deck describing on how to be a good OSS contributor.  A good way to start is by subscribing to WSO2 architecture mailing lists and digging into the sample code.  Daniel Doubrovkine has compiled a list of qualities that will make you an amazing contributor:

1. Have a real problem to solve, business need, or some type of commercially-driven motivation.

2. Understand the goals of the project and make sure your contribution is in line with them.

3. Submit complete patches that implement full features. Include any test information and documentation.

4. Play by the rules of the project that you’re contributing to.

5. Be humble. Never add your name to the list of contributors yourself—the project leader should do so, if she or he values your work.

6. Have low expectations. Learn to accept rejection.

7. Persevere. Improve upon comments and keep sending updates.

8. Be honest and vocal about your available time and skills.

9. Be a doer, not a talker or a troll.

10. Finish what you started, don’t give up.


Other less code-intensive contribution opportunities exist. You may be more confortable contributing documentation, blog posts, and presentations. Barbara Shuarette shares a contribution list at

Recommended Reading

10 Ways to Participate In Open Source



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