Showcase your FOSS contributions with Ohloh

I was talking with a friend the other day (or should I say night?) about FOSS and the various ways in which it is rewarding for someone to contribute.

One of the arguments was about how contributing to FOSS helps you build for yourself an awesome, public resume. Indeed, any potential employer can just go ahead and verify the quality and quantity of those contributions you say you have made.

That's great for employers (they can avoid the mythomaniacs, and find great candidates), but also for you, as it's a fantastic way to put your skills and experience forward!

At that point of the conversation, I mentioned Ohloh. The fact my friend had never heard about it makes me realize that other people in Hong Kong might not know about it either, and as such are missing on the opportunities it can provide.

A disclaimer first: As far as I know, Ohloh itself is not Free Software. I understand it might be a problem for some people, if that is your case do not use their service.

So how does Ohloh work?

The service revolves mostly around 2 concepts: projects and people.

If you're the maintainer of a project, you can declare it in Ohloh, as I did for IBus Cangjie. Ohloh will then fetch the whole code history (from Github in this case), and present you with some cool statistics about your project (number of contributors, activity, programming languages used, etc...). Don't forget to mark yourself as managing this project!

Now, if you have contributed to a Free Software project in the past, try searching for your name in Ohloh. For example, if you search for "benau", you will get a page listing people going by that name as well as unclaimed contributions. As you can see in this example, the awesome Benau hasn't claimed his contributions to libcangjie and IBus Cangjie. (probably because he doesn't have a profile)

If you are in such a case, and are interested in the value that Ohloh could provide you as a FOSS contributor, you could then open an account there, and claim those contributions as being yours. If you do, make sure to go back to searching your name from time to time, Ohloh sometimes doesn't seem to pick up your contributions automatically.

Other Ohloh users might declare they are using the projects you contribute to, making your contributions more visible. They might even give you kudos, to congratulate/thank you for your contributions.

Eventually, Ohloh will build for you a profile listing your contributions, the programming languages you have used, etc. Take a look at mine for an example of what it looks like.

You could add a button like this one to your website as well:

Ohloh profile for Mathieu Bridon

Then, the next time you are applying for a job, don't forget to add a link to your Ohloh profile on your resume. Who knows, it could be a great boost to your development career! :-)