So this is the first time I am trying to work with an Open Source Project.

I created a Code Plex Account browsed for a project that I thought I might become a part of.

I sent a request to join the project.The project head accepted my request.

I have already downloaded the source code of the project.

Can some one just suggest what should I be doing next?

Since I have never worked with Open Source Projects the best thing I think for me would be to go through the code and just study it and understand how it works.

Apart from that I want to know what things many of you do when you are accepted as a contributor.

Also the project I choose to work includes ASP.NET MVC and a javascript library Raphael.js which I have no prior experience with.

So should I also start looking at it also?

Any suggestions are welcome.

  • 3
    Start by picking a small task from the todo list and learn only what you need to finish it.
    – Zippo
    Jul 21, 2012 at 8:43
  • 2
    Agree. Do the work they need to get done, in other words - contribute.
    – user1249
    Jul 21, 2012 at 10:11

2 Answers 2


Thanks for willing to contribute to the open source world, but please don't ask to be a contributor if you don't know yet how to contribute.

I'm the owner of a library source code that have been written ten years ago in .NET. Despite that it is still used by thousands of companies worldwide, so I was in hope to get contributors to help with bug fixes and refactoring.

Over the last year I have accepted up to 10 new contributors request. Only one contributed so far.

His request message was a bit different. It was something like:

I have been using your library for a while now, and I'm aware of a few bugs I would like to address and I also want to extend module XXX in order to YYY because of ZZZ.

The other requests looked like (the following is an actual one):

Hi, I'm a professional .NET consultant from XXX. I'd like to give my contribute to the project.

So my advice would be to pick a project that you actually use and know how to improve it before. If you don't know what to improve first, be sure to check the source code to see if it would be actually possible for you to add value in it.

  • Thanks for the answer , yeah actually I am not using the project in anyway , it is a small game.So what do you think I should be doing , I am willing to learn the code and the project.Please suggest thanks. Jul 21, 2012 at 9:25
  • 2
    +1 for sharing your research: people who join an open source project without having a more specific aim than "I'd like to contribute" are usually not contributing. I once did that myself :D I joined because the project was in the language I like and only when I was given a task I realized I hate this project :P
    – Zippo
    Jul 22, 2012 at 12:28

Get to know the code and get a overview of it. Take a look at everything, but don't spend too much time. You don't have to understand every little detail at first.

The first things I would do are bug fixes and requests. You can get to know the code pretty good by doing so.

After you did a few things, you can do bigger tasks. Why did you join the project? Where there any specific things YOU wanted to change?

  • Thanks for the suggestion , Ya I would like to understand how the code works , another thing How do I get to know to-do list of a project. Jul 21, 2012 at 9:09
  • Your Project on Code Plex has an issue tracker, discussions, reviews and documentation. I suggest you read them to find your first tasks. Reading discussions, reviews and documentation is also a good way to get into the project. If you haven't found a task after you have read everything, wait a few days and if you still don't have anything, ask other contributors what they would suggest you to do.
    – user59682
    Jul 21, 2012 at 9:17

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