Juha-Matti Santala
Community Builder. Dreamer. Adventurer.

5 Reasons to Contribute to Open Source

Open source software has had an immeasurable impact on the modern software business. If you’re building anything for the web, you are most likely heavily relying on infrastructure, software and frameworks built on the open source model — allowing you to get productive with small overhead and benefiting from the efforts of the community.

Most of the servers in the world run either on Linux or FreeBSD operating system, source control is run by Git or Subversion, databases are Postgres, MySQL or MongoDB and web apps are built with React, Angular, Django, Ruby on Rails and other similar frameworks. What’s common to all of them? It’s all open source.

1. Open Source contributions are an investment

As we launched Turku Gives Back, we knew that one of the biggest reason for companies to skip comes down to money. Developers’ time is not cheap and choosing open source contributions over billable customer hours is not an easy decision to make.

That’s why it’s important to consider open source contributions as an investment to the tools that your business relies on. Most of us have probably encountered an issue with a tool that we’ve used: a bug, a missing feature or bad documentation. Building workarounds or spending hours figuring out how to use a feature is costly. Instead of just waiting for someone else to take care of the problem, invest little time to fixing the bug or improving the documentation and you will reap the rewards in the future.

2. Open Source culture is a recruitment factor

Hiring the top developers is a fierce competition and hiring new people is not cheap. For developers, the situation is great: we get to choose the companies we work in and work culture factors are playing a great part in that deal.

Flexible hours, having your voice heard and having a culture that values open source are all features that developers value. We are big fans of Futurice’s Spice Program that rewards employees for their open source contributions.

3. Improvement of skills


As developers and designers, we need to constantly stay on top of the game by updating our skill sets and becoming better at executing our profession. Open source contributions are one opportunity to let your developers expand their skill set in a motivational way.

Often our projects at work are limited to a certain technology or domain and there’s not a lot of options for exploring and extending outside those domains. Open source provides a playing field that benefits the employee as well as the employer.

4. Promotion / PR

Imagine a scenario: your developer takes part in a meetup or a conference to talk about an open source project or contribution. Whether the listeners are fellow developers or potential customers, painting a picture of your developers as experts creates value for the company.

Quite often especially in software consultancy, you’re bound by some level of NDAs about your customer projects: you can’t really reveal any big secrets of the projects but with open source, you can share and brag to your heart’s content.

5. Doing the right thing

Finally, business is just a means to an end. We value open source for what it is: a common interest and a way to reach the goal of making the world a better place through software.

Given the impact that open source has had in the software world in the past decades, it’s easy to see the value for the society as well as for the business. It’s a long game, sure, but would any of us really want to live in a world where everything is a closed garden and we are at the mercy of a few companies.

Turku Gives Back is a non-profit project by Turku ❤ Frontend to challenge and encourage local software companies to spend half a day on Friday the February 2nd 2018 contributing to open source.

Turku ❤ Frontend is a community of developers and designers interested in frontend web development and design. We run monthly meetups and organize other events like hackathons, programming competitions and projects like Turku Gives Back. Follow us on Twitter, register to join upcoming meetups in Meetabit and join the discussion on Facebook and Slack.

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