getting started in open source (or anything else)

getting started in open source (or anything else)

Figuring out where to begin always feels like a daunting task. It takes extra energy to move an object at rest, after all, and it's insult to injury to make the effort and find out you've headed in exactly the wrong direction.

One way to find and take that first step is to find where you can bring value. By this I mean, where can you contribute in even the smallest way to the large project at hand.

I've been exploring local large language models (LLM) for fine-tuning and helping me organize my local files and thoughts. (I'll have a lot to share on what sorts of things are actually useful on a regular basis).

Now, I don't have a degree in machine learning or even computer science. How in the world can I provide value when I'm a novice coder?

Enter the world of documentation and readme files. Here's a fairly popular open source model developer thanking me for (literally the smallest) changes inside a readme file:

everyone is busy and there's a lot to do. therein lies the opportunity.

All I did was uncover that there were a couple links that needed updating. The project had moved accounts and these legacy links were pointed to the wrong place. It's so small that no one noticed or bothered to fix until I ran into it while attempting to learn more about this project.

I realized this was a simple fix and so I took a moment to create a PR with the update. It's a small step, but it's also a first one and gives me a direction while I'm learning.