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Lessons Learned in Promoting OSS Contribution from Latam

  1. Lessons learned promoting OSS contribution from Latam Pedro Galvan (@pedrogk) These slides available at
  2. Very quick about me • Founding Manager at Software Guru • Dev Relations agency/media focused on Latam. • Personal preferences • Community over code • Juice over coffee • Tacos over [x]
  3. Let’s get started
  4. We would like to think that … • Open source software levels the game. • Anybody can use it. • Anybody can contribute to it. • Anybody can make a career out of it.
  5. Yes, but …
  6. ASF average contributor Source: Apache Software Foundation Community Survey, July 2020
  7. Breakdown by country of residence Source: Apache Software Foundation Community Survey, July 2020
  8. What is wrong with that?
  9. What is wrong with that? • No warm, fuzzy feeling. • Missed opportunity: • For open source in different scenarios/domains. • For tech employers.
  10. Why does this happen?
  11. Reason Pct Not aware of how to contribute. 31% We don’t believe we are “worthy” of providing a valuable contribution. 26% Language barrier, lack of information in Spanish or mentors who speak Spanish. 15% Unwillingness to volunteer for non-paid work. 15% No time left from everyday work. 13% Why do you think contribution to open source projects in Latin America is so low? Source: Survey replied by 102 Latam developers, applied by Software Guru (2019).
  12. What can we do about it?
  13. Make it easier for contributors to start • Guidelines / docs • Properly labeled issues • Host contribution workshops / open house • Support mentoring -> Measure and award it
  14. Acknowledge & address the language/cultural barrier • Invest in internationalization / localization. • Support working groups on localization. • Sponsor people from underrepresented groups to mentor others.
  15. Collaborate with programs that support paid contributions • Google Summer of Code ( • Google Season of Docs ( • Outreachy ( • “People subject to systemic bias and impacted by underrepresentation in the technical industry where they are living.” • GitHub Octernships ( • Piloting in: Mexico, Colombia, Nigeria, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia.
  16. Cumbre de Contribuidores de Open Source Software (CCOSS) • Annual summit in Mexico • Contents (in Spanish) • Talks -> Inspire • Workshops -> Learn • Sprints -> Contribute
  17. Thank you! Pedro Galván Kondo. Reach out on LinkedIn, Twitter, Mastodon->Hachyderm (@pedrogk).

Hinweis der Redaktion

  1. I think it is safe to assume that most people in this room would say that OSS is an equalizer, that it levels the game because Regardless of where you come from or which school you went to, anybody can use it and contribute to it and make a career out of it.
  2. And yes, in theory that is true. But in reality we are not fulfilling that promise. Why would I say that?
  3. The Apache Software Foundation do a community survey to better understand who are their contributors, and analyzing the results from their 2020 survey, this is what they found, that the largest group of their contributors fits this profile: a male in their fourties who is a native English speaker or is very confident with it, and was born or lives in the USA.
  4. And if we go by location, well … there isn’t much diversity. Basically, USA & Germany make make half of the participants.
  5. It is a missed opportunity. First, because the promise of open source is that you can take it and modify it or extend it so that it can solve problems beyond what the original developers thought of. So, open source is missing out on all these different scenarios and problems. Second, because there is a pool of millions of talented developers out there, but if they don’t contribute to open source we will never notice them. As many of you who are here are aware, open source contribution is a very powerful for locating talent.
  6. Why does this happen? Well, I asked myself the same question. So I did an informal research with a group of about 100 developers from Latin America, asking them why they thought that contribution to OSS was so low.
  7. To my surprise, the top reason mentioned was that they simply were not aware of how to contribute. Next, was that they didn’t consider they were good enough to contribute or were afraid of breaking things. Then, the language barrier, which in the case of Latin America is pretty significant. Unlike other developing countries where English is common, in most countries in Latin America only about 10 to 15% of the population is proficient with English. Another reason was simply not being willing to volunteer for unpaid work, and last was that even if they would be willing to volunteer, they didn’t have time left because of their day job. Now, regarding this point. I know that some of you will argue that “where there is a will there is a way”, but I must also remind you that the work week in developing countries tends to be longer than in developed countries.