I may be unable to do much right now but this won’t last forever, and in the mean time, I can still contribute in small but helpful ways.

– The Mantra of Microcontributions

For me, there’s always been something special about the online web developer community. In other fields, it felt like your knowledge was your advantage and you needed to protect it.

But us web-devs seem to have this ethos of sharing. Maybe it comes from our open-source origins, or a sense of reciprocity for all the times a web search gave us the answer we needed. Whatever it is, I’ve always felt a lot of satisfaction from sharing my own code and content with anyone who might find it helpful.

We don’t all have the same amount of time to make these kinds of contributions. Life goes through phases and that’s ok.

I went through one of these phases last year where my blog went quiet and open source just wasn’t going to happen. It felt bad, but I realized that I didn’t have to let everything go to zero. I could still make microcontributions. For me, this could include…

  • Upvoting a Stack Overflow answer that helped me
  • Making a small edit to a Stack Overflow answer (if I found a typo or bad formatting)
  • Putting some code in a Github gist (instead of a full repo)
  • Adding an emoji to a Github issue comment that helped me
  • Posting something I learned on social media (instead of a nice, well-formed, blog post)
  • Resharing/retweeting/boosting something I learned (again on social media)
  • Leaving a comment

All of these things were pretty quick and low-maintenance. I could do them as I went about my normal working day.

Most importantly, it helped me feel better. It made the break feel sustainable and resentment-free.

Whatever microcontributions look like for you, I hope you see them as a tool for fighting the all-or-nothing thinking that often afflicts the ambitious.