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Aaron Johnson
Aaron Johnson

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'To Spam or not to Spam ' (My Hacktoberfest Experience)


Hacktoberfest is an amazing competition which introduces people / Enhances the amount of contributions in/to OpenSource . As a Open source enthusiast , I was very happy to have found the event as I knew there would be a lot of devs or people new to programming and open sourcing which would make a great platform for interaction as there was an option for people to join the official Hacktoberfest Discord , where you could talk to the participants , ask questions , or just normal conversations and the event made me love Open Sourcing even more . It was well organised and even the event heads were very friendly and open to discussion . My whole view of the event was filled with rainbows and ponies but as the event was in progress , that's when reality hit me , hard.

It was 11th October 2020 , as a student who is still learning to program , I had limits to the level of contributions I could do , ie , Documentations , mid-level programs , etc . However I had no idea how to use GitHub , so I had to search on YouTube , on how to participate and how to use GitHub . That's when I started getting recommended videos on YouTube on how to win Hacktoberfest swag . Being a curious 18yr old boy , I wanted to check it out , that's when I felt sick . There were videos and videos about how to win the Hacktoberfest swag . In their video , they explained that if the viewer wanted to make a valid PR (Pull Request ) for the event , They had to create a .md file , with the Name , Age , Location , Link to social media account and a photo of themselves , and if the viewer does this , the owner of the Repository would then accept the PR and give it a label of "Hacktoberfest" . I was shocked to see 1000+ people per Repository who actually do this . There were also many invalid marked PRs in other Repositories where many people would have changed one word in a documentation and then make a PR ,

ex :
Original : " Welcome to my repository "
edited : " Hello and welcome to my repository "

This actually made me sad and upset as I knew there would be people who do this and just spam people and cheat in the event and then win a shirt for contributing to open source , which I believe in no known universe was their action a contribution in any sense or form . The spamming also affects honest contributors as if you place yourself in a Repository Owner's shoes , if you receive 100+ Spam PRs as mentioned in the example above , after a period of time , you start to get annoyed and then you would either just mark all as invalid or you just don't look at the PRs due to your experience . Fortunately , after people started to talk about the spamming Repositories , Hacktoberfest implemented a report tab in their official webpage , where users can post the url of the spam repository . This simple implementation shows the care the heads of Hacktoberfest have for Open Source , which is a great sight to see .

Hacktoberfest has a very noble goal to help the Open Source Community but I realised nothing in life is rainbows and ponies and that these type of people exist in every aspect of our lives and all we can do is try to patch the loop-holes up . So yes , that was my experience , If you have any suggestions on how spamming PRs and Repositories could be patched up , do comment below and if you are participating , message the event heads about your ideas . So yeah , as a whole Hacktoberfest is a great starting platform to Open Sourcing and I would definitely recommend that you too should participate . Cheers

Discussion (3)

thefern profile image
Fernando B 🚀

Not exactly, this year was full of spam due to a youtuber encouraging to submit nonsense PRs just to get a shirt.

aaronj profile image
Aaron Johnson Author

I completely agree,

I have come across many youtubers who have created GitHub repositories where people created Pull Requests of photos of themselves along with some information about them and have labeled them as valid Hacktoberfest PRs. It's the unfortunate actions of the people who are more focused on getting a prize rather to contribute something meaningful to repositories. Thankfully Digital Ocean are trying their best to make it airtight.