Why remote contribution is a must in FOSS development

Someone recently asked me why Free and Open Source (FOSS) projects couldn’t exist without remote contributions. If you are active in the FOSS ecosystem, the answer to this question might seem obvious. For someone new to FOSS, it might seem puzzling or even counter-intuitive.

Free and Open Source implies that you develop in a transparent way, that anyone can read the source code and in return can also modify or “fork” the code, fix bugs, and improve the code. That means by nature of it being open, FOSS is meant to be a collaborative effort.

One also has to understand that a large number of FOSS projects are community-driven and not by enterprises. And then there are big projects like the Linux Kernel or Kubernetes, where several companies, organisations and individuals work together on the many facets of the projects. Of course, those contributors and stakeholders of those projects are located all over the world.

Contributions from anyone, regardless of their location, are not only welcome, but are essential to the growth and health of a FOSS project. The “Open Source” mindset is one of sharing, of transparency. The proverbial hive mind helps FOSS projects more stable, more secure, and speeds up innovation.

If a FOSS project would restrict the contributions of the people that work on it to a company or a locality, it would no longer be “Open” and it would thwart its chances of success.