Anyone who reads my frequent pleas to involve yourself in the community knows that I’m a big fan of community development of open source projects. PHP is one of the world’s largest open source projects. And if I haven’t convinced you yet that you need to contribute, perhaps this will help encourage you.
Professionals (those who make their living from open source) owe it to the open source communities they utilize to give back. Anything less is akin to stealing – be it time, talent or treasure – from the community that keeps them in business.
That may sound harsh but consider: people who write open source software generally aren’t paid to do it. There are a few exceptions (some people are paid to write WordPress or the Zend Framework, for example). But the core of PHP is contributed by people who are solely interested in making PHP better for their professional endeavors. Not contributing to their efforts is like showing up at a potluck without bringing a dish. Not cool.
Contribution to the community doesn’t have to be in the form of writing a patch or a new extension for PHP, or releasing some massive open source project. No, it can be as simple as contributing to the documentation, or submitting a bug report. We all come across bugs – if we don’t report them, no one can fix them! Each of us has something to contribute, if only we choose to do so. And when we contribute, we owe it to the community to do so in a full, complete way – submitting usable bug reports or documentation, for example.
The community exists because people choose to contribute. Giving back isn’t a matter of charity, but a matter of the survival of the product or project you use every single day. It’s not really optional, but it is easy. I’m personally wary of those who opt not to give back, if only because it makes me question how genuinely they appreciate and understand the product they’re using.
So file a bug report or write some documentation today. You’ll feel good, the community will benefit, and the whole ecosystem gets healthier. Remember: PHP depends on people just like you.