Why You Should Be Fixing Bugs For Open Source Projects

by jasonyeo

Last year, I gave a short talk about why people should be fixing bugs for open source projects. I was asked by Prof. Damith to talk about it during the last lecture of his CS2103 class. I have decided to upload the slides and reiterate my points here because I have noticed that it has always been a trend for the CP3108 students to shy away from fixing bugs and choose to create an extension instead. So, I have three simple reasons why you should be fixing bugs.

You get to work on real software

In your typical software engineering class, you work alone or in teams on a project and you apply software engineering techniques that you have learned in class on the project. The project might be forgotten and ignored once the class ends. However, when you work on open source projects, you work on real working software. Software that is already in used by millions of people. What does that mean? It means that code/documentation that you contribute will be used by millions of people. A new feature implemented by you might change thousands of lives. To quote Steve Jobs, you get “to put a ding in the universe.” See the patches that I have contributed.

Impress People Around You

You get to impress friends when they use the open source projects that you work on. Let say a friend is using Thunderbird and finds that it lacks a feature or is encountering a bug. You can say to him “Have no fear, just give me some time and I will fix that in the next release.” Most importantly, contributions to open source are always a plus in employers’ eyes. You will definitely stand out when you say you have worked on a software that the employer is using.

You learn A LOT!

When I am fixing bugs, I learn a lot from the whole process of contributing code. I’ve learned numerous technologies that I have never heard of (XPCOM, XUL), coding standards to make code readable, software testing techniques and many many more.


There are many more reasons why you should be fixing bugs. The main reason why I am still doing so even when the class has ended is because I like doing it. Most importantly enjoy what you are doing.