Clarissa Lima Borges

Outstanding New Free Software Contributor FSF Award Winner

June 2020

Clarissa makes FOSS and takes our Twitter mic from June 17 to 24. Thank you, Clarissa!

Tell us about yourself

I am a Brazilian software engineering student. I enjoy solving problems, playing games and I love animals, that’s what pretty much defines me, haha.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on my GSoC project which is to create a UI library for the GNOME web ecosystem. Aside from that, I am also working in a team to send a project proposal to the Community Engagement Challenge, which is a three-phase competition designed to generate stimulating ideas that will help connect the next generation of coders to the FOSS community and keep them active and engaged for years to come.

What is most interesting about that?

GNOME has a lot of websites, such as,,,,, and so on. They are all maintained by different people, and currently, there are no updated guidelines for the people who are responsible for them that meet the needs of building consistent websites in terms of design. The challenge is to do an assessment, find the requirements for each one of the websites and create a library that contemplates all the needs of the websites.

How did you first discover FOSS?

I started using FOSS at college. It was very cultural there, professors and other students used Linux to develop and we are always encouraged to publish our subject courses projects under FOSS licenses.

What prompted you to start contributing to FOSS?

After using GNOME for almost 4 years, at a time I wanted to learn more about UX, I found an Outreachy project to contribute to GNOME doing UX research. It was the perfect opportunity to learn about UX and contribute to a project that had been part of my days my entire graduation.

Why should others get involved with FOSS?

There are hundreds of benefits of contributing to FOSS. It’s safe to say that if FOSS didn’t exist, the technology wouldn’t have gone this far yet. FOSS enables us to share and learn from their projects and contribute to what we use is indescribably rewarding. Contributing to FOSS is a great opportunity of helping the software you and many people use everyday, to learn and to be part of a community.

How should they get started?

Choose a project you like and look for newcomers guides or issues. If you don’t see any issues that meet your skills but you can help with something else, try to reach the community to share your ideas and ask for orientation about how to proceed.

Where difficulties and limitations do you see with FOSS?

I think the greatest problem in FOSS community – in tech, I’d risk to say – is that the space is dominated by white cis men, we need more diversity.

How can they be solved?

It’s a very cultural problem, in general I think initiatives to encourage underrepresented groups has been playing a very important role in diversity, we need to support those projects and make our communities a safe space for those folks.

What do you see difficulties in contributing?

One difficulty I have been seeing is that some active users can be really aggressive and ungrateful about contributors’ work. I have never faced this situation, but as I got closer to other GNOME contributors they talk a lot about how bad they feel after receiving angry messages about a decision they made or about something they did not improve yet etc. It’s a very serious situation, and everyday I fear I’ll have to deal with that when I share something about my work.

What does a perfect day off look like?

Watching my favorite TV shows, going out with my friends and playing games with them with nothing to worry about!

Do you want to tell us something else we didn’t ask?

I feel I said everything I wanted to :)