Clueless to Collaborator on a Github Open Source Project

Short Form


Even if you have development chops, learning git and open source culture can be confusing and intimidating. Or maybe you're an experienced open-sourcer looking to gain insight as to how to get more people involved. Either way, come hear the tale of a knowledgeable fool's journey to becoming a collaborator on Ractive.js.


I had over a 15 years of development experience, yet it took me many years and the right project to become a contributor on an open source project. There were technical, cultural and emotional challenges. I stumbled around trying to figure out how to get involved. And once I was asked to be a contributor, I had to figure out how to be useful, learn the code, and, well, collaborate.

This talk is what I wish I had known.

I’ll start by covering the things that kept me back: 1) technical challenges like demystifying git branching and pull request; 2) emotional uncertainty and understanding open source culture, 3) finding a project of interest that has an opportunity for longevity.

Then I’ll discuss the things I did to become involve and be helpful that led to being asked to be a collaborator.

Lastly, I’ll share what you can do once you are a contributor: testing, fixing issues, documentation, refactoring, and new features. I’ll also discuss communication and collaborating on architecture and vision.


contributor collaborator github open-source

Speaking experience

I gave a challenging Ignite talk in 2011 at the first Portland TechIgnite event:

I've spoken at user-group meetings in Portland including the Agile Alliance and PDX-UX.

I regularly gave technical talks to 50-100 customers when I was Head of Architecture at Accelrys, Inc.

This is a new talk.


  • Me


    Currently freelancing doing web and mobile development, as well as consulting for startups needing technology and architecture advice.