"I should really get more involved in open-source" is something that's always on the back of our minds. You are fully aware of how rewarding it could be but that perfect opportunity to contribute never comes up.

Ian Sutherland, a maintainer of Create React App and contributor to NodeJS, used to be in that position. He had always struggled with getting into open source, he wanted to do something substantial but nothing ever came up. One day, he noticed a tiny bug in create react app. Ian quickly fixed it and put in a PR. Once he was past the first PR barrier, making additional ones was so much easier.

Fear is a big barrier to entry. People are maybe afraid they're going to do something silly, make a silly mistake and look foolish, but you really have to get over that as well. To get over it try to start small. When you start small, what was once a mountain to climb is now a hill. The stakes are much lower and success is still extremely rewarding!

Sometimes, getting involved can happen organically through opportunities from people you meet. Ian got involved with Node randomly at the Vancouver Node Interactive Conference during a collaborator summit. And an open-source raid group was formed in Kent's discord where they collaborate on helping out with various open-source projects. So remember that you don't have to do it alone, and look out for opportunities with others.


  • Next time you are hesitant to try something new, try starting smaller!


Guest: Ian Sutherland

Host: Kent C. Dodds