7 reasons to contribute to the community
There’s this recurring joke in my country that seems to go back ages. Some kid of every generation writes it in the accumulated dust on the back of a well-traveled van: “whoever reads this is nuts!” Well, if you’re reading this you might just be nuts indeed! Because this post is about giving… without expecting something in return. Giving time without receiving money. Building a product without getting paid. No quid pro quo. That’s what this entire PnP-initiative is all about. And that’s a bit odd… or is it? Here are 7 reasons why you would contribute to the community.
Giving without expecting, contributing to a community, it does something to us. It creates some kind of extra pathway in our brains. It unlocks some extra quality or richness of experience. It’s like it is part of the core fabric of reality. Most people know this. But are you acting on it? The key thing is: you can understand this with your mind, but to really understand it you need to experience it. That’s a whole different ball game. To know what it means, you need to act it out.
Now there are many good places to give without expecting in return, for example in charity work. Some people say they don’t want to be busy with things of work outside of the workplace. But wouldn’t it be cool to experience this kind of fulfillment in all aspects of our lives? Also with the things related to the workplace.
Productivity can be the enemy of learning. That occurs when I tend to only use the knowledge I need to solve a problem. That moment when I stop diving deeper as soon as I’ve found what I was looking for.
When you start to contribute though, productivity is suddenly less important. What gains importance is explaining yourself to others and laying a good foundation for others to build on. To do that you need to have a deeper understanding of the subject you’re working on.
You gain a better grasp and understanding of your own work because you need to share it with other people.
The subjects and themes we work on in our day jobs are often limited to a few. They also do not necessarily fit the width of your interests. Again because of productivity. We cannot be experts in everything.
When contributing to open source you can choose what things you want to focus on. And it’s okay to get sidetracked with something that catches your interest.
This will help you get a wider grasp of subjects. And that will eventually help you in your work as well.
Whether it be through blog posts, video’s, PnP PowerShell, CLI for Microsoft 365, or SPFx samples. I’m benefiting from the voluntary work of others literally e-ve-ry-day. It’s no more than reasonable that I pitch in. This is called the reciprocity principle. It’s the idea that when you give, you will be given in return.
But not only that: if you give back generously, you’ll find yourself paying it forward. Your actions will inspire two or three others to do the same, benefiting us all exponentially.
The Microsoft 365 space spans the globe. And yet many of us are often working with a small set of colleagues in our own bubbles, only getting out for short periods of time for events and conferences.
Joining in community efforts really is a great way to get over those boundaries, as you meet and collaborate with people from completely different backgrounds. This broadens your perspective and that is generally a good thing.
Aside from gaining technical knowledge and expertise, there’s a lot to learn from how various teams work together.
Cooperating in Open Source communities is a great way to learn just how other people give shape to that. About how decisions are reached, expectations are managed, people are mentored, values are communicated. Things you can learn from and apply in your own workplace as well.
Last but not least: it’s fun! Period. Full stop.
To draw this article to a close: If you’ve read this far, you’re clearly nuts. But that’s okay, nuts are good for blood pressure, I’m told.
I hope I’ve inspired you (even if it’s a little bit) to start contributing. There’s a lot of communities and open source efforts out there, but may I recommend PnP? If you’re in the Microsoft 365 space, this is the place where it all happens! As a maintainer of the CLI for Microsoft 365 project, I’d be happy to welcome your contributions there. You can read more about that here.