A Complete guide to become a Contributor at MDN Web Docs

I bet every Web Developer knows MDN, but a very few of us who knows how someone can become a contributor at MDN Web Docs and improve the biggest Web Documentation website!

Disclaimer: This article is targeting the Developers only, especially Web Developers, or Cross-Platform Application Developers who are using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. So, if you aren’t one of the targeted audience, you might enjoy reading the article, but you won’t get the main benefit

What is MDN Web Docs?

According to Wikipedia:

Mozilla Developer Network is a resource for developers, maintained by the community of developers and technical writers and hosting many documents on a wide variety of subjects, such as: HTML5JavaScriptCSSWeb APIs,Node.jsWebExtensions, and MathML. For mobile web developers, MDN provides documentation on subjects such as building a HTML5 mobile app, building a mobile add-on, and location-aware apps.

MDN was created in 2005 by a Mozilla Employee, it was called Mozilla Developer Center, then Mozilla Developer Network, and now it is called MDN Web Docs.

P.S: I am not sure if they are going to change it after a few years or not! 😄

What is your First Impression about MDN Web Docs?

I consider MDN Web Docs as my First Place to search for something related to Web Technologies, and I am sure that – almost – every Web Developer used it before. Some of you might find it very useful, and others find it really complicated and – sometimes – you won’t even find enough information about a specific topic!

All of the previous concerns are RIGHT, because MDN is maintained by the community, and it didn’t reach its perfection yet, but it is being dramatically improved, especially when Microsoft decided to make MDN the best place to go for Web API reference. 🤞🤞

Why becoming an Open Source Contributor at MDN Web Docs?

For many reasons;

1) A great way to learn more

I didn’t expect to learn in-depth concepts in Web Technology especially JavaScript while contributing. When I decide to improve a page on MDN Web Docs, I had to read a lot about that topic, watched online videos, and tested my ideas before sharing them with the World.

Helping people is the great motive to learn!

2) Work Experience

Even it is not a paid job, but it gives you – almost – all the benefits of a Real Job. It gives you the ability to search, understand, try and teach others in a simple way. However, you aren’t alone; When you change something in MDN Web Docs, other Technical Writers will see your change, they might edit or even delete it, and you will know the reason. By doing so, you will learn from your mistakes, and start improving yourself!

In a regular job; You might have one or two to fix your mistakes, but you won’t have a whole community beside you!

3) Portfolio

What do you want to have in your Portfolio as a Web Developer? Perhaps, some Web Sites and Web Apps that you did before, right? Exactly. But, what do you think of someone who is a Web Developer and he is improving the Web Documentation, that other developers read on a daily basis? In my opinion, he is the best pick!

Overall, Open-Source Contribution is a great way to highlight your Portfolio, as it gives your future employer a professional impression about you. Also, it is ONLINE and your employer can see your contribution. So, no lies here!

You can fake your previous positions and even your entire Portfolio. But, you can’t fake Open-Source Contributions!

4) Active Developer vs Lazy Developer

Many developers limit their coding time to the 8 hours work/day at their company, it is very similar to the University Students who didn’t do anything else except going to the University every day while others start enrolling in Student Activities, Organize Events, … etc.

Don’t be that Lazy one. Remember that; even Developers at big companies have time for some Open-Source Contributions, some of them are contributing to MDN, or other Open-Source Projects, or even answering questions on SOF.

Don’t rely only on your company’s projects, start making your own portfolio!

How to apply as Open Source Contributor at MDN Web Docs?

There isn’t a list of steps to apply, all you need to do is:

  • Sign in at MDN Web Docs with your Github Account, and complete the Registration Process
  • Go to Contributing to MDN page
  • Read the Guide, and start contributing!

There is a Guide there to help you understand how you can improve MDN Web Docs. For example; Some people translating MDN to their mother tongue language and localize it. Others – like me – improve the Technical Content of some topics. There are many things to do with MDN to make it better. Browse their Guide and pick something that you interested in.

Summary

MDN Web Docs is an Open Source Project started by a Mozilla Employee, and it is maintained by the Developers Community. Being a Contributor isn’t a paid position, but it worth every minute of your time and will help you become a better developer. Anyone can apply, no prerequisites at all. Contributing in MDN isn’t only about Advanced Technical Writing, you can translate pages to localize the MDN Content, improve current pages by adding an example, or an important note that took you a lot of time to understand and it worth sharing!

A Personal Advice

If you want to start contributing to MDN for bragging/collecting positions purposes, you will fail and it will work against you!! Let’s imagine that you have become an MDN Contributor, and when an employer visited your profile on MDN, it was almost empty. So, you aren’t the guy he is looking for. That’s why I mentioned: “you can’t fake Open-Source Contributions!” before. 🤷‍♂️

So, all you have to do is apply when you feel ready to invest a few hours weekly to improve the Web Documentation and start your Open Source Contribution Journey!

Thanks for reading, and let me know if you have any further questions! 👀

This article was originally published on my LinkedIn on April 28, 2018