Now that the dust is settling quickly on 3.5 a few people are sharing their thoughts on contributing to WordPress, including our own Tom McFarlin and Terry Sutton, both of whom experienced the thrill of having their first core contribution recognized.
Tom shares his thoughts on his first stating a few reasons why many people don’t ever get around to contributing (besides lack of time):
- Lack of knowledge of a particular language can hinder your ability to contribute to the codebase.
- Understanding the processes that are in place – that is reporting, ticketing, source control, patching, etc. – have their own learning curve.
- There are unintended consequences to the code that you’ll be modifying and you’re not prepared to handle that.
- …or many other things.
Whatever the case may be, getting started with contributing to the core application takes time, energy, and education and that can take months – or even years – before you get to that point.
Tom goes onto say even if it does take time but that it’s worth it.
Terry offers another candid perspective sharing his feelings of guilt with not “doing enough” perhaps and how he stumbled through his first contributions (although he obviously survived and we thank him for it!) and why he may have not done more:
There are two main answers here: A) I just didn’t. Simple as that. And, B) the technical reasons.
Before I say anything about B), I want to make it absolutely clear that I did not do all I could to overcome the technical hurdles I faced when trying to contribute. I didn’t read as much as I should have, I didn’t reach out enough when I ran into issues or got confused, I didn’t develop a deep enough understanding of Trac, I didn’t step up and claim ownership of issues I could actually help fix.
I want to make that crystal clear that I personally did not do enough to overcome the issues I ran into.
Terry’s experience though is likely the more normative experience when you first contribute to core. He goes on to mention the large overhead and time required to get things straight and adjusted so that one can effectively contribute. He even suggests a few thoughts of how the team might help out other new contributors get their feet wet faster, like tagging “easy” tickets or even providing even more mentoring.
Not bad suggestions if I do say so myself.
Thanks Tom and Terry for opening yourselves up here and sharing your first time experiences! It takes guts to contribute and you’ve showcased that you’ve got the stomach to handle the management and responsibility of helping millions of people out there!
Finally, for those interested, you can view this video primer as well as follow these three simple things to get started:
- Read the Contributing To WordPress Codex. All of it.
- Follow WordPress Trac religiously.
- Read Mark Jaquith’s WordPress Toolbox post.
Good luck and hopefully we’ll see your contribution in the next major release? Love it!