Just for Fun. No, Really.

You may have been directed to this page because you or someone else asked one of the following questions:

Silicon Valley Cutthroat

If one only spends time on Hacker News, or other startup-oriented news sites, they might believe that everyone is working on their next multi-million-dollar startup and/or exit strategy. It may be hard to imagine that people work on open source purely for the fun of it.

There are hackers—believe it or not—who just love the art of building software. They do it for the challenge, for the fun of it. They aren’t trying to make a million dollars.

Consumer Culture

Or, if one is used to consuming other projects only, and rarely creating one, they might get stuck in a mindset of thinking “what can this project do for me?” (And if the project isn’t relevant to them, they wonder why it exists.)

There are hackers who don’t care if you consume their project. Of course, they would love it if others enjoyed/admired/appreciated their work, but that's not strictly necessary. It's just fun to create.

We do it just for the fun of it. No, really.

Lastly, if one has learned enough programming technique to do their day job and nothing more, then they might not appreciate programmers who are always trying new things.

There are hackers who live and breathe code, and the idea that every line of code must prove its monetary value, that every hour spent toiling away at the keyboard must be accounted for, is a damn shame.

The process itself, flaws and all, has value—not just the final product.

I'll end with my favorite quote about programming:

The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Few media of creation are so flexible, so easy to polish and rework, so readily capable of realizing grand conceptual structures.... Yet the program construct, unlike the poet's words, is real in the sense that it moves and works, producing visible outputs separate from the construct itself.
—Fred Brooks, The Mythical Man-Month

Try it!

If you, dear reader, think you may have lost your way—that coding used to be fun for you, but now it's just a slog that you clock in and out of to get your paycheck, then allow us to invite you back!

Think of something that you might like to build, learn, experience inside the computer, and just jump in. Without looking or researching first. You might just have a bit of fun. No, really.

Join the Club

In no particular order, here are some projects who proudly own the "just for fun" label.

Name Description
Natalie a Ruby compiler, for fun
ZigSelf a Self implementation in Zig, for fun
php-parser-rs a PHP parser in Rust, for fun
ex6502 a 6502 processor emulator in Elixir, for fun

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