“Getting involved” with open source can seem a little confusing. Where do you go to get started? What if you don’t know how to code? Who do you talk to? How does anybody know that you have contributed, and besides that does anybody care?
There are actually answers to questions like those (your choice, it’s OK, nobody, you tell them, yes) but during the month of May 2022, there’s one simple answer: LibreOffice. This month is a month of participation at LibreOffice and its governing body, The Document Foundation. They’re inviting contributors of all sorts to help in any of six different ways, and only one of those has anything at all to do with code. No matter what your skill, you can probably find a way to help the world’s greatest office suite.
6 ways to contribute to LibreOffice
Here’s what you can do:
- Handy Helper: Go answer questions from other LibreOffice users on Ask LibreOffice. If you’re an avid user of LibreOffice and think you have useful tips and tricks that will help others, this is the role you’ve been waiting for.
- First Responder: Bug reports are better when they’re confirmed by more than just one user. If you’re good at installing software (sometimes bug reports are for older versions than what you might be using normally) then go to the LibreOffice Bugzilla and find new bugs that have yet to be confirmed. When you find one, try to replicate what’s been reported. Assuming you can do that, add a comment like “CONFIRMED on Linux (Fedora 35) and LibreOffice 7.3.2”.
- Drum Beater: Open source projects rarely have big companies funneling marketing money into promoting them. It would be nice if all the companies claiming to love open source would help out, but not all of them do, so why not lend your voice? Get on social media and tell your friends why you love LibreOffice, or what you’re using it for (and of course add the
- Globetrotter: LibreOffice is already available in many different languages, but not literally all languages. And LibreOffice is actively being developed, so its interface translations need to be kept up-to-date. Get involved here.
- Docs Doctor: LibreOffice has online help as well as user handbooks. If you’re great at explaining things to other people, or if you’re great at proof-reading other people’s documentation, then you should contact the docs team.
- Code Cruncher: You’re probably not going to dive into LibreOffice’s code base and make major changes right away, but that’s not generally what projects need. If you know how to code, then you can join the developer community by following the instructions on this wiki page.
I didn’t want to mention this up-front because obviously you should get involved with LibreOffice just because you’re excited to get involved with a great open source project. However, you’re going to find out eventually so I may as well tell you: By contributing to LibreOffice, you can sign up to get free stickers from The Document Foundation. Surely you’ve been meaning to decorate your laptop?
Don’t get distracted by the promise of loot, though. If you’re confused but excited to get involved with open source, this is a great opportunity to do so. And it is representative of how you get involved with open source in general: You look for something that needs to be done, you do it, and then you talk about it with others so you can get ideas for what you can do next. Do that often enough, and you find your way into a community. Eventually, you stop wondering how to get involved with open source, because you’re too busy contributing!