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FOSS Contributor Interview #1 - Bitcoin Precept
We sat down with a project manager from the SeedSigner project
Welcome to the first edition of the Bitcoin Product Community’s FOSS contributor interview series! This will be a series of interviews, released as blogs, where we’ll talk to members of the Bitcoin Product Community about their experience volunteering with FOSS projects.
We recently had the chance to catch up with a pseudonymous project manager for SeedSigner. In the discussion, we were able to cover how the PM got involved with Bitcoin FOSS, what it’s like working with world class devs, and if contributing to Bitcoin FOSS is right for you.
Before we dive in, the interviewee wanted to provide additional context:
So, I want to say that if my story inspires someone to get involved with Bitcoin or sovereign computing FOSS, then that’s a win. It’s important to know that I deserve little to no credit for what SeedSigner has achieved to date. They’ve built something magical. The fact that their lead developer felt compelled to give me credit on stage for contributing for such a short time was mind-blowing, and while I feel I don’t deserve praise at this point, it motivates me to make an impact on the project.
Q: You’re working on SeedSigner as a product manager. How are you finding the role?
I’m absolutely loving it! I invest roughly 10 hours a week to the project, and a way to think about my role is as an unpaid janitor. It’s hard to do any of the classical product or project management in a fully decentralized team of volunteers. This is my first experience contributing to FOSS, and the brainmelt from corporate PM to “FOSS pleb” has been fun and humbling. That said, I’m hoping to bring some new organizational techniques to the team in 2023 and help knock out some of their bigger goals as efficiently, and successfully, as possible.
Q: How were you introduced to Bitcoin Product Community (BPC), and its interview process for FOSS contributors?
So, I was introduced to BPC by a close Bitcoiner friend who had heard about the community through his network. Word of mouth basically.
He and I both mine our fiat in the I.T. field and have been discussing our shared goal to one day work full-time in the Bitcoin space. The idea of this community immediately resonated with me as a potential bridge to get more involved with Bitcoin builders. Here we are.
The interview process was really simple. When I discovered BPC, I scoured the discord and website for information. There was a form to fill out if you wanted to volunteer to contribute. As mentioned, it was something I was interested in, so I met with ecurrencyhodler shortly after filling the form. We had a great conversation!
Q: So, how did you get connected with SeedSigner?
Well, the timing of events was a bit strange. Maybe even serendipitous. I had gotten involved with seedsigner days before I met with “ecurrencyhodler” for the BPC interview. Before the BPC interview, I had been chatting with SeedSigner on interview and mentioned I was a PM. This caught his attention because the lead developer, Keith, had mentioned they might want to involve a PM soon. And it turns out that Keith had met with BPC to see if they had any new any PMs that’d be interested in helping. It was crazy timing, and I give credit to BPC as they directly influenced this outcome.
As I started chatting with Keith, I took inspiration from Steve Lee’s story about getting involved in Bitcoin Core. You really just have to step up, reach out and get involved. After a few days of conversations, I was diving head first into SeedSigner!
This is really all about being humble and helpful. If you’re polite, and willing to help out where needed, anyone is happy to have you around. A great soft skill for PMs is being able to read the room, empathize with others’ experiences, and build a foundation of trust for the working relationship.
So when you get involved with a new project in FOSS, I recommend listening more than feels natural at first. Every project, and group of contributors, is different. Trying to apply the same approaches and toolsets in every environment just won’t work. So simply listening and getting a feel for everyone involved will better position you to contribute.
Understanding the tribal knowledge and the project’s own history is also key.
Q: Now that you’ve been contributing to Bitcoin FOSS, what would you say the biggest challenge you’ve encountered is?
I can’t really speak to any particular challenges. It’s all been an enjoyable learning experience. I did need to learn how to use GitHub however!
If anything, I might say managing expectations around the pace of development was new for me. Everyone involved has different responsibilities in life, so as much as I want to lock us in for some jam packed sprints, that’s not always realistic.
Also, ChatGPT was my best friend throughout the experience. It’s super useful when trying to learn new things!
Q: How do you manage your FOSS contributions with your full-time job and/or responsibilities?
Classified :) I’ll just say that FOSS is a side hustle to my side hustle, and that’s before factoring in being a husband and a father. I’m the type of person who gets fulfillment from doing meaningful work. To that end, it’s all a pleasure.
Q: What’s the most exciting thing about contributing to Bitcoin FOSS? Why should other Bitcoiners consider volunteering their time to help advance the Bitcoin ecosystem?
The best part about contributing to Bitcoin FOSS is the daily sparkle I get from spending time with truly amazing people. I deeply admire and respect the work I see coming out of all the volunteer contributors with the SeedSigner project. It’s a refreshing respite from doom scrolling on Bitcoin twitter.
And, you know, I wouldn’t say that other Bitcoiners should, or shouldn’t, consider volunteering time and energy. We’re all on our own paths through life. In my opinion, people should just crystallize their own vision and purpose first.
Q: What advice would you have for someone looking to contribute to Bitcoin, but doesn’t know where to start?
I’m perhaps not the best person to give advice here, but I’d say follow what you find interesting and meaningful. And, when you find that interest, network with people from a perspective on what you can do for them. Not the other way around.
Thanks for checking out the interview! If you’re interested in contributing to Bitcoin FOSS, join our community chat and we’ll help you get started.