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Have you ever wanted to help the community but then started to think: “It won’t make a difference anyway“, or “everyone knows that already…“. In this blog post, I’ll explain why your contribution is of great value, and how contributing to projects will make a difference!
But first … why should I contribute?
Because you have some knowledge that others don’t. Yes, you do. And sharing this knowledge will help someone “out there”. Never assume that people know what YOU know.
I find being part of the community very satisfying personally. The feeling of helping someone who’s stuck on a problem for days, or simply directing them to a resource that will help solving their issue is a good feeling.
Maybe you know a little bit about Networking? Are you passionate about programming but not an expert? Maybe you were reading some documentation and you’ve seen a typo or something that was incorrect?
Well, whatever it is, by contributing, the next 1000 people reading that documentation will have the correct information. That’s a big impact isn’t it?
How can I contribute?
First, identify which topic(s) are likely to motivate you. There are thousands of open source projects on GitHub. There’s a high probability maintainers will appreciate your help!
Let me give you an example. I have a favorite topic which is SharePoint PowerShell PnP. This module was created by a member of the community, and is also community driven. I wanted to contribute somehow because it helped me in the past and still is today, but the primary scripting language used is C#, and I am no C# developer!
That’s OK, I found another way. Sometimes I go look at the issues on the GitHub repository, and see if I can help somebody. Maybe I’ve seen this error before, and found a fix or a workaround? That will help not only the person who opened the issue, but also the maintainers when the issue is closed.
I also contribute to the Microsoft 365 Community Docs. This repository is entirely written BY the community FOR the community. Anyone can create an issue for a specific topic related to Microsoft 365 they’d like to know more about, and someone will eventually pick it up. It might be YOU!
Simple Ways to contribute
Sarah Lean from Microsoft has a great blog post on how to get you start with a Github account, clone a repository, and push your changes to a remote repository: A Guide to Contributing to Microsoft Docs . Check it out!
Here, I’d like to give you a few simple steps if you think contributing is too daunting.
In the example below, I simply went through the documentation for a PowerShell cmdlet I needed to use, and noticed that a parameter didn’t exist anymore.
I opened an issue directly in the GitHub repository by clicking on “New Issue” (green button on the right hand side), and entered a description for the problem. Sometimes, repositories have templates to guide you in being as descriptive as possible.
The good thing in GitHub is that we can have a conversation which is linked to the issue itself. You can insert screenshots, emojis, links, and format text for a better impact.
Upon verification, the documentation has been updated to reflect the changes, and the issue was closed. It can be as simple as that!
Looking through issues on a repository of your choice. Here I simply helped a user by providing a link to the official documentation, and I kept corresponding with examples until the issue was resolved.
Click on the issue, go to the bottom of the page where the commenting area is, and to make sure you get the user’s attention, use the ‘@mention‘ anywhere in your comment(s).
Writing articles for the Microsoft 365 Community Docs. The only thing to do is to create an issue to propose your idea, and once it’s validated, start writing!
You can also “Create a new file” directly from the Github interface!
Remember, contributions can be fixing a typo on documentation, creating a open source tool, help solve issues on repositories, and the list goes on… Above I showed you 3 different ways to contribute, that maintainers will appreciate.
Don’t be disappointed if your changes to a repo are not merged straight away, or looked at the day after. It happens.
Now, only one thing left to do… Go find YOUR topic, it will make a difference!
Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.