It’s somewhere between 11PM - 1AM, you are already deep into social media scrolling game. Just 10 seconds before you think of going to sleep, your brain decides to send you this very common thought, “What are you doing with your life?!”. Damn.
This is the exact moment you get ideas to solve all the problems in the world. After a while you realize first you need to rethink your lifestyle and you start reading “5 life hacks to be extra productive” on BuzzFeed. Or is it just me? oops. During one of those moments, I thought I need to write something about how one can utilize the free time on the internet doing things that can be useful to others and in turn keep you creative and productive. I have categorized this post into two sections, one for the technical audience and one for the non-technical audience (click on the highlighted word to skip to that content).
If you are a software developer or you have a keen interest in programming, you can shape your skills by spending your free time helping others on the internet.
Open Source Softwares are the result of efforts that thousands of programmers put into architecting, coding and maintaining them. If you are learning some new programming language or you wish to explore more about a technical domain, contributing to projects is one of the best ways to learn. For example, if you are learning to code on python and you are finding it difficult to find practical examples to experiment on, all you have to do is to go to GitHub, search for projects that are related to python and try to understand the how things are and how you can help. Most of the well-maintained projects on GitHub have issues tagged “help-wanted” that needs someone’s attention. Once you get familiarized to the software, you can also try to come up with new features that can help the users.
If you are one of the rare type of programmers who loves document, then you can also help the open source communities by creating technical documentation, fix typos in existing documents, adding examples and translating the documentation into your native language.
If you don’t like going through a lot of code and find bugs in it or you don’t want to spend time writing code for one project, you can use your technical expertise in assisting people who are seeking help on specific things on StackOverflow. No wonder if the code snippet that you put as the answer to someone’s question goes into their production software.
Besides from answering other’s questions, you can also contribute by fixing, updating outdated answers and moderating the forum. StackOverflow is not the only site out there, you can find a lot of technical/non technical forums in stackexchange.com/sites or other corners of the internet.
Contributing is not only for the geeks and nerds!
Wikipedia is the largest crowdsourced knowledgebase out there. If you think you need to work on your writing skills, start writing on Wikipedia. You need not always have a new topic to add, you can help in translating the existing pages into other languages you know. This makes knowledge more accessible to the readers. If you feel the article that you read on Wikipedia is not up to the standards or lacks some important information, you can edit them to make it better and submit for review. Once you contribute enough, you will also get to review and moderate the content that is added by other contributors.
Ever found a place on Google Maps that doesn’t exist or you want some restaurant in your neighborhood to be in Google Maps? You can do all that by contributing to Google Maps as a Local Guide. You can signup for Local Guide from the Maps app and start contributing. It allows you to do all types of contributions ranging from adding places, providing missing information, checking the facts, answering questions and providing photos of the places. This majorly helps the people who rely on the reviews and information that Google Maps provides for a place before visiting. One thing that needs to be noted in being a Local Guide is that you have to deal with annoying notifications that you get asking to review the places that you never visited but you were stuck in traffic near that location, also Privacy .
After reading this, if you ask me “Vishwas, who will do all these, what will I get?”, just think what your boss would have said if you hadn’t fixed the bug by copy-pasting code from StackOverflow. If you find contributing to be boring, you can always go back and continue doing TikTok videos.
If you are searching good todo list apps, I have written a post about my todo list addiction, go read it here.