Want to Feel Like Royalty? Join an Open Source Project.

A Crown

Every open source project talks about how much they want your contributions. But do they really mean it? If you submit a patch, will they puke all over your work because they would have written it differently? Or because you indented your code with three spaces instead of four? Or just because you don't work for the right company?

Maybe. But not in most projects. I can guarantee that it won't happen in the area where I work (Project SocialSite). And I honestly think the same is true for most of Sun's other open source projects.

Why? Because these things shouldn't be Sun's open source projects. They should be open source projects in which Sun happens to be a very active participant. I think that most people at Sun understand and agree with that sentiment. So we'll bend over backwards to support outside contributions. Again, using SocialSite as an example, we would love to see any of the following coming from people who don't work for Sun:

  • Bug and RFE Reports
    • You just need a java.net ID to submit a bug or RFE in our Issue Tracker
  • Code Submissions
  • Wiki Updates
    • Anyone with a java.net ID can create and edit content on the SocialSite Wiki
  • Outreach
    • Mention us in a blog or a discussion forum--anywhere our project might be of interest

And when I say we'll bend over backwards to support you, I mean it. If your contribution could benefit from some changes, we'll work with you to make them. If you need more information before you can contribute, just ask and we'll provide it. Or if your goal is to become a commiter, we'll help you through the process.

One thing we can't do is suspend the rules. But the rules are simple and they serve a purpose. To become a committer, you first need to sign a Sun Contributor Agreement (SCA) and then submit a patch or two. That's pretty standard stuff in the world of open source. The SCA ensures that Sun has the legal rights to protect the project and its source code in court if necessary. And the patches don't have to be huge. They just need to be a positive change and demonstrate that you have a basic understanding of the project's code.

So please, put me to the test. Find something in SocialSite that you think could be better, and submit a patch. Or edit the Wiki. Or open a bug. And if we don't give you the support you need, let me know. It'll be my personal mission to find out why we failed and make sure it never happens again.

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