Don’t be Afraid to Contribute

Categories: Aside, Contributing
Tags: WordPress

I think a lot of new, and even seasoned, developers have a strange fear of contributing code or submitting bug fixes. For me, I was afraid to submit a bug fix for fear that it wasn’t actually a bug or that my code would only fix the problem for me. I spent a lot of time making adjustments to plugins, noting them and trying to remember to patch the code after the repo was update. I’m still a little bit shy when it comes to submitting pull requests but it gets easier, and less daunting, every time.

My first pull request, which was ultimately denied, was for an FAQ plugin. There are probably a few dozen FAQ plugins on the WordPress repository but I like this one because it’s relatively lightweight and enqueues jQuery’s accordion library. After an update, I noticed that the FAQ’s stopped working and left an error saying that there are no FAQ’s to display. Well, of course, I knew that this was incorrect everything was working just fine before the plugin update. So, I spent a few minutes going through support forum. There were multiple complaints but the plugin author wasn’t responding. Next I took a look at the code and found the bug almost immediately. I patched it and tested the code. Then I went back to the support forums and posted my fix. The plugin author wasn’t very appreciative and took a few weeks to fix the issue on the repo. However, two other developers thanked me for the patch. Which, I’ll assume means that at least 2 people found my adjustment useful. Again, this was a very minor fix but I was incredibly proud to finally give back.

This wasn’t a huge contribution but it was a start. The next time I contributed I was a little bit more confident, and the next time, and so forth. It is a little scary showing your code to people but it also helps you grow as a developer. So, don’t be scared. Just start contributing.

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