There are very complex open source projects out there, and to some of them I think I could make some contributions, and I wish I could, but the barrier to entry is too high for a single reason: for changing one line of code at a big project you have to understand all of it.
You don't need to read all the code (even if you read, it won't be sufficient) and understand all every single line does and why, because the code probably is modularized and compartimentized, so there are abstractions in place, but even then you need to get an overview of the project so you can know where are the modules, where does one module interface with other, what exactly each module do and why, and in which directories and files are each of these things happening.
I'm calling this code overview, as the name of a section that open source projects could have in the website or documentation explaining their code to outsiders. I think it would benefit potential contributors, as they would be able to identify places where they could build, the actual primary coders involved, as they would be able to, while writing everything, reorganize their minds, and would help users, as they would be help to understand and better report bugs they experience and maybe even become contributors.
But still I have never seen one of these "code overviews". Why? Are there things like these and I'm missing them? Things that do the same job as I am describing? Or is this a completely useless idea, as everybody, except for me, can understand projects with thousands lines of code easily?