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How To Join an Open Source Project?

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I have been advised to join good open source projects by my seniors. After I thought over it, it seems like a really good idea to learn new things. But as I thought about it, some questions crept my mind.

How does one join an open source project? Can you provide some inputs on how to begin?

I have been through some pointers as in, joining the mailing list, submitting patches. But before submitting patches I guess you need to know about the domain and entire product. This is quite an overwhelming job.

If you have joined an open source project, can you tell me some tips to put the foot in the right direction and also please state which open source project to choose.
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This question gets asked occasionally. Check out these previous threads:

Open source projects

Open Source Contribution

How To Contribute to Open Source Projects
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