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Recently John Resig (creator of the jQuery library) wrote on his twitter that "When it comes to hiring, I'll take a Github commit log over a resume any day.".

As much as I respect that (motivating developers to give back to the community), it also puzzles me, as not all of us have the opportunity to do so, for a number of reasons (family, employer agreements, etc).

How would you make a case for the non-contributor developer? Do you think that developers that do not contribute to open-source software are doomed from certain kinds of organizations?

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put on hold as primarily opinion-based by durron597, GlenH7, Dan Pichelman, MichaelT, amon May 30 at 13:05

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Great question! Employers who work on open source seem to be in demand now. I wonder if it is just hype ... –  Job Feb 15 '11 at 3:31
Thanks. I don't know how to choose an answer from one of the many great ones I got here. Please continue to up vote what you see as the best fit. I'll choose the answer based on the number of votes. :) –  Pablo Feb 15 '11 at 11:58

5 Answers 5

up vote 14 down vote accepted

I think you've misinterpreted this tweet.

John Resig is stating that much more information can be obtained from an accessible code commit rather than a resume. He's not excluding anyone that doesn't have a GitHub (or open source account).

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That was my take. I think there's a whole lot unspoken in the tweet (as you'd expect in 140 characters). I'm guessing that he's responding to the attitudes you see in some other questions here, where a 0.1 difference in GPA is a deciding factor. I expect that if you're a US citizen who's been to a decent college, he's more interested in your code than your resume. If you're in a refugee camp with no college degree I suspect you'd need a whole series of excellent code contributions for him to even consider hiring you. –  Мסž Feb 15 '11 at 4:43
My take on his tweet was simply that he would rather hire someone with a proven track record instead of someone that you could only get information from a piece of paper, not actual code. So, not necessarily github, but any open source contribution. –  Pablo Feb 15 '11 at 9:10
@pablo: ... and that's exactly why I think you misinterpreted the tweet. –  Jonathan Khoo Feb 15 '11 at 9:17
I thought I was agreeing with your point of view (and disagreeing to the fact that I misunderstood the tweet), but perhaps I am just not expressing myself right. Anyways, an open-source contributor will indeed have much more information at the disposal of potential employers, which is of course a bonus. –  Pablo Feb 15 '11 at 11:56
+1 The code speaks for itself. –  Larry Coleman Feb 15 '11 at 16:51

I think if a person contributes to open-source it is a nice touch which shows that the person is interested in programming and has a certain amount of passion for the subject but that is definitely not enough to hire that person. There are so many other criteria that need to be checked. For instance how does the person handle stress, how does he motivate himself to work with not so fun projects, does he have computer science background etc etc.

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My ability to work under stress is directly proportional to their ability to compensate me. –  Job Feb 15 '11 at 3:40
@Job: That's a nice sound bite, but how do you put that across in an interview? Speaking as an employer, I was always interested in work accomplished (as opposed to degrees earned) in both a solo environment and as part of a group. This is what having an FOSS commit log can do for someone "straight out of school" -- give them something approaching proof of real-world experience. And it doesn't have to be someone else's project. There have been some very interesting solo projects put up on sourceforge / github / googlecode, etc. –  Peter Rowell Feb 15 '11 at 5:09
I absolutely agree with this; if you've grown up with a passion in technology and computing you'll be aware of at least a few open-source products and probably had a look at the source. Somebody that has only ever used Dot Net or Flash is likely to be a person that went to university solely to learn an employable skill, not someone that is a passionate technology enthusiast. –  PP. Feb 15 '11 at 8:37
why does working on open source mean anything more about your passion than working on closed source? I spend my entire working day creating open-source software, and for most of my colleagues - it's just a job. –  TZHX Feb 15 '11 at 9:05
Specifically, it's about working on code outside of your employment. Great basketball players don't restrict their playing to team practices and games. –  Xiong Chiamiov Feb 20 '11 at 23:51

Answering the question in the title, no, I do not contribute to OSS.

Some of the other answers and comments here had me bursting to scream loud and proud "I do not contribute to OSS!".

That's not a bad thing.

The OP (and others) are correct, not everyone either has the chance to, nor wants to - and again, that's NOT a bad thing.

I enjoy programming, but I do ONLY do it for a living, and honestly, I'm fine with that.

Yes, some of you may not want to hire me, Resig may end up not wanting to hire me, but I'm fine with that.

I sit at a computer 8 hours a day, plus maybe a bit more surfing of an evening, but I just don't want to keep doing it in my free time. To me it is a job I DO enjoy (and I'm lucky in that, not everyone gets to do that), but it is just a job.

If others do, that's cool too.

I have lots of other things to do during my free time, including but not limited to, spending time with my wife and baby daughter, seeing family and friends, playing and watching sports, and so many other things.

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Thanks for posting that. I think too many people confuse the passion for programming and the skill of programming. One does not imply the other; or to put it another way, I've seen some people excitedly write terrible code ;-) –  smithco Feb 15 '11 at 17:06
@smithco - totally agree! –  jmo21 Feb 16 '11 at 8:44

One does have to keep in mind that developers in IP-sensitive companies can't always easily contribute to open-source projects. For that reason, I don't consider it an issue if there is no open-source items listed on someone's résumé.

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But still an open source contribution listed in the resume will be an added attraction. It will help a lot to differentiate us from rest. –  Yuva Feb 15 '11 at 6:55
@Yuva Not necessarily. Just like non-open projects, there are many cases of poorly coded and poorly designed open-source projects. Making something open does not magically means it was done well. A prestigious project would have some weight, like having written parts of the Linux kernel; but, that's not to do with the open nature of the kernel, rather it is the prestige of the project. –  smithco Feb 15 '11 at 17:04

I do contribute to open-source ...and I do so because I don't have a degree, I am self-taught, and my current position does not reflect my skill level. Since I don't have the pedigree on paper, I must rely on employers looking at my contributions ...or any other published works or articles.

In addition, some recruiters count OSS and other published projects as contract, or freelance work - typically as a way to get more compensation.

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