Open source is a challenging and very interesting space to build a community. There’s a certain amount of excitement derived from being involved in something open source and available to all. There’s also a certain amount of confusion and if you’re not careful there’s a certain amount of conflict. But community excitement is different. It’s catching. It’s fun.
Conflict within a community is not always avoidable and being able to deal appropriately with conflict when it occurs shows the true strength of your community. I’ve written before on effective conflict resolution within a community so I’m not going to repeat any of that advice here but I would rather like to talk about the excitement of working in open source and some of the benefits you’ll experience from life in the engine room of an open source community.
You Learn (a lot)
You’ll learn so many things by being involved in an open source community. You’ll learn more about how to work with other people and share your toys, you’ll learn how to listen to others, you’ll learn how to be successful, you’ll learn more about yourself. And these are just a few ways in which open source communities will help you learn. In case you question the value of continuous learning I’ll drop a quote from a rather famous individual all will recognize and most will respect.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
There is (or should be) no doubt about the power of learning and the benefits of continuing to grow in your learning throughout your life.
You Meet People (a lot)
Now I know you could say the “a lot” part of this section is debatable depending on the size of the community but think about a community of one (yourself) now every other community means you’ll meet a lot of people. And when you meet a lot of people you will find those things you have in common with them. Meeting people, sharing common interests, common likes is yet another benefit from being involved in open source. This in itself is a learning experience as you cross cultural and geographical borders in a common setting.
You have to be able to meet people and greet people. For some this involves coming out of your comfort zone. For others this is second nature, you enjoy the attention and being in the middle of the conversation. Either way you must be friendly, smile and be personable.
“We’re all working together; that’s the secret.”
– Sam Walton
You See Change (a lot)
So my last quick point on exciting things you see by getting in deep within the engine room of a community and become involved with the inner workings and day-to-day aspects of an open source community is related to change. I think a lot hinges on this particular point. If you are deep in a community where there is an aversion to change of any kind and things fail to grow you’ll see a loss of excitement, interest, and motivation. You’ll find stagnation and eventual death. To be honest…that’s not exciting.
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
– Winston Churchill
But if you’re in a thriving community you’ll find all types of excitement and growth. There’s little changes happening all the time. Nothing is perfect and there are always ways in which things can be improved and made better. These micro-changes are what keep the excitement level up and make the entire community long-term successful.
Sometimes the changes aren’t micro-changes but macro-changes. Large and sweeping change, sometimes even a pivot is what becomes necessary to make the community a long-term success.
Working in a community is fun. Working deep in the engine room of a community is an incredible rush. It’s a different level of excitement all together. If you have not yet experienced the deeply satisfying experience of working within a community don’t wait. Start today. Find an open source community which you enjoy and dive deep. You’ll find (a lot) of exciting new things and ways in which you will enrich your life.