Contribute: an event to connect open-source maintainers and aspiring contributors

Ségolène Alquier
Mar 30 · 4 min read

As a Tech company, Doctolib relies very much on open source technologies. From the frameworks (React & Ruby on Rails) to the packages and gems we use… there are a lot!

We not only wanted to use these tools but also to contribute to them!

We felt that the main blockers for contributing to open-source projects were:

  • Not knowing where to start
  • Not knowing which project to work on
  • Finding the motivation to do it

From this analysis, we thought that the best way to do so was to organize an event with both Doctolibers and people from the outside world. We used Hacktoberfest 2019 as the opportunity to organize the first event.

Why did we decide to create a recurring event?

The first event worked very well and we decided to make it happen on a regular basis so that we could work on different projects and people could join whenever the timing was best for them.

We’ve organized 6 events so far and, in the last sessions, we were lucky enough to welcome:

What’s the format of the event?

We organize one event every two months. They take place at 6 pm Central European Time on Discord and last 2 hours.

The first two sessions took place in our Paris office. We provided the place, the drinks, food, … and both Doctolibers and external people could come to work together on open source issues.

But then March 2020 arrived and as you surely know… a pandemic began.

Covid forced us to either stop the Contribute events, or find a way to go remote. We all loved these moments of fun collaboration and so we opted for the second solution!

After trying different tools, we chose to use Discord. If you’re interested in why we made this choice or how we set up the environment, you’ll surely enjoy reading this article!

Even if we were forced to make that choice in the first place, we realized it’s actually a good thing because it allowed people from all over the world to join us! Whether as speakers or contributors.

What goes down during a Contribute event?

Each event welcomes a core contributor of an open-source project who comes with a few good issues that could be tackled during the event.

Here is a more detailed planning of the 2 hours:

We take a few minutes to make sure everyone arrives, to introduce ourselves, and make sure people identify Doctolibers in case they need help.

It often is the first time on Discord for many participants and we take some time to explain how the different rooms work.

We quickly present the Contribute events and the planning of the evening.

Then the speaker introduces themselves, the open-source project they work for, and presents the issues. People can then choose which issue they want to work on.

We then create one room per issue, and people can meet there to work together and make a pull-request! The speaker usually goes from one room to another, to make sure no one is stuck on their issue, and to unblock if necessary.

We take around 15 minutes at the end of the event for people to show the pull requests or drafts they made, to explain if they are ready to be merged or still need work, to share what was challenging, …

Then we wrap up!

This sounds cool but I never made a pull request or contributed to an open-source project… Can I still come?

ABSOLUTELY, YES!

You can read this tutorial ahead of the event if it makes you feel more comfortable.

We also created a dedicated room in the Discord called `get-started`. You can join and gather with other first-time contributors. Someone from Doctolib will show you how to:

  • Find a good issue
  • Fork the project and clone it
  • Create a branch and start working on it 🔥

How do we choose the open-source projects we contribute to?

We first started looking for projects built with JavaScript and Ruby since they are the languages we use at Doctolib. But we quickly realized it could be fun to open the range of possibilities as well!

If you are looking for help on your open-source project, we are probably looking for you! 👋

What’s next?

More Contribute events! We haven’t chosen the date of the next event yet but if you want to be informed of the next sessions, you can join the meetup group where we publish the events’ details.

If you already contribute to an open-source project and would like to talk to us about it, we also would love to!

Same, if you have names of open source projects you’d like to contribute to, drop names and we’ll try to make them come!

💌 You can reach out to us on meetup via this page: https://www.meetup.com/fr-FR/doctolib/members/?op=leaders

Doctolib

Improving Healthcare for Good

Doctolib

Founded in 2013, Doctolib is the fastest growing e-health service in Europe. We provide healthcare professionals with services to improve the efficiency of their organization, transform their patients’ experience, and strengthen cooperation with other practitioners. We help pati

Ségolène Alquier

Written by

👩🏻‍💻Web Developer — Mainly playing with Node & React 🤓

Doctolib

Founded in 2013, Doctolib is the fastest growing e-health service in Europe. We provide healthcare professionals with services to improve the efficiency of their organization, transform their patients’ experience, and strengthen cooperation with other practitioners. We help pati

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