Jona Azizaj

Community Manager

[June '21]

Jona makes FOSS and takes our Twitter mic from June 30 to July 7. Thank you, Jona!

Please tell us about yourself

My name is Jona Azizaj, and my pronouns are she/her. I’m from Albania, and I’m currently living in the beautiful city of Prague in the Czech Republic. I have participated in different open source communities and I enjoy building developer communities.

What are you working on right now?

In June, I joined GoodData as a Data and Developers Community Manager to build and maintain technical-oriented communities for GoodData products.

I’m also a contributor to the Fedora Project and LibreOffice, and co-founder of Open Source Diversity. In Fedora, I’m part of the Diversity and Inclusion team, and I have represented Fedora as an Ambassador in several events such as FOSDEM, DevConf.CZ, Open Source Summit, etc. In LibreOffice, I am part of the TDF Membership Committee - our mission is to administer membership applications, support the members and grow the community base.

What is most interesting about that?

Every community is different, and you can learn new things from each of them. It’s always great working with people with similar interests from around the world. As we usually say, sharing is caring!

How did you first discover FOSS?

In May 2014, I attended the first edition of OSCAL (Open Source Conference Albania). The speakers and content were great, and it made me curious to check more about FOSS. Later on, I joined Open Labs Hackerspace in Tirana, which is the community behind OSCAL. I started getting involved with Fedora and became the first Fedora Ambassador in Albania. Together with other folks at Open Labs, we have organized many events to bring awareness about Open Source and help other people start their first contributions in FOSS.

What prompted you to start contributing to FOSS?

The people. In Fedora, we have our four foundations: Freedom, Friends, Features, First. Community (Friends) was the reason why I joined the Fedora Project and started contributing. The same applies to LibreOffice and other open source communities. In the beginning, you are eager to learn many new things and grow. After that, you start giving back to the community, support and mentor new people to join.

Why should others get involved with FOSS?

The main reason is that you get to know and collaborate with many great folks worldwide that share the same interests.

How should they get started?

My recommendation would be to start searching for a project you like, check their documentation related to the contributions you can make, and start hanging around in the community to understand how they work and how to get involved. Another way is checking internship programs like Outreachy, Google Summer of Code, etc. All the participating projects state the skills you need to contribute and have a clear plan of what you should achieve during the internship (if you get selected) with the help of a mentor. Hacktoberfest is another great way to start contributing to FOSS. Many projects join Hacktoberfest, and their mentors can help you get started and fix some beginner-friendly issues.

What difficulties and limitations do you see with FOSS?

It’s hard to answer because there are many, but I would highlight sustainability and lack of diversity. Contributing to FOSS is great, but at the same time is difficult for so many reasons. Free time to contribute is a privilege, which “contributes” to a lack of diversity.

How can they be solved?

I really like the work that folks at Sustain OSS and Open Source Diversity are doing. I believe that working together, sharing the experiences, and trying to find ways to solve the above issues we are facing is great.

Where do you see difficulties in contributing?

FOSS is not only about code. We encourage people to contribute in different areas, but we need to put more effort into improving the outreach activities. In this way, we can avoid the problems of having unwelcoming communities, poor documentation, new contributors etc.

What does a perfect day off look like?

Being offline to recharge :) I love working with communities, but it’s really hard sometimes and takes a lot of energy. My perfect day off is walking around in nature, spending time with my family and friends, or just being disconnected from the internet.

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

I just want to say thank you for inviting me and letting me share my FOSS story :)

Thank you, Jona!