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Christine Belzie
Christine Belzie

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Four Ways To Survive Hacktoberfest As A Maintainer

Ah October

The month of fall, pumpkin spice lattes (or anything pumpkin-flavored), Halloween, and ... Hacktoberfest. For some open-source maintainers, this is like a month-long trick-or-treat adventure, a chance to collect feature updates, recruit new contributors, and experiment with new ideas. But for others, it's more like a month-long horror film, complete with unassigned Pull Requests lurking in the dark, unwarranted DMs from contributors creeping up like ghosts, and issues that are so confusing that it makes their head spin like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. Feeling spooked? Don't be, my fellow maintainer-in-training! In this post, I share four strategies that have helped me survive the depths of Hacktoberfest-Hell. 👻🎃

Strategy 1: Contribute from Time to Time

I always say, “If you want to make sure your food is good, taste it first.” The same philosophy applies to maintaining open-source projects. Contributing regularly to your project equips you with insights to review others' contributions effectively. For instance, I decided to conjure up an entry about New York City Pizza in OpenSauced’s Pizza Verse repository

GitHub logo open-sauced / pizza-verse

A repository for all things pizza.

Open Sauced

🍕 Pizza Lovers Repository 🍕

Welcome to OpenSauced's Pizza Lovers Repository!

Pizza Lovers Repository


The Pizza Lovers Repository is a collaborative project where we can come together and contribute pizza-related content. Whether you have a fantastic pizza recipe, an interesting pizza fact, or just want to share your opinions on the best pizza toppings, this repository is the perfect place to do it!

Repository Structure

Share your favorite pizza recipes. Whether it's a classic Margherita pizza or a unique creation of your own, this category aims to provide a variety of pizza recipes for everyone to enjoy. Contributors can share their recipes, including ingredients, cooking instructions, and other relevant details. Feel free to include images of your pizza creations to inspire others to try your recipes!

Share your interesting and informative pizza-related facts. Contributors can provide verified and accurate information about the history…

Navigating this dark and cheesy path was a bit of a bewitching journey, as it had been a while since my last contribution to the project. But with some spellwork and determination, I got the hang of it. Since then, I've been casting better code review spells.

Contributing from time to time is just one of the tricks to surviving Hacktoberfest. Now, let's unearth another one, shall we? 👻🍕

Strategy 2: Avoid the Spam Label Spell

As tempting as labeling unassigned PRs as "spam" may be, let's explore a different spell shall we? I was wandering through the PRs tab in LinksHub

GitHub logo rupali-codes / LinksHub

LinksHub aims to provide developers with access to a wide range of free resources and tools that they can use in their work. These resources include links to free software, libraries, frameworks, and other tools that can be used to build and deploy applications and websites.


Welcome to LinksHub 👋

LinksHub is a hub of links made for and by the community. Whether you're a new developer, a seasoned technical writer, or a customer service representative looking to learn how to code, we got the resources you need to aid you in your learning journey.

We recognize that there's a wealth of information available, but often, it's a matter of knowing where to find it. That's why we've made it our mission to bring the right resources to you


We are passionate about helping people from all backgrounds start their open source journey. Here are some initiatives that we have partaken in:

Name Logo Purpose
Product Hunt LinksHub - A hub of ready-to-use tech resources | Product Hunt A platform where people launch different kind of products/projects and share them with the community
GirlScript Summer of Code 2023 a white background with the text, GirlScript Summer of Code next to an orange flower 3-month summer
open source program with a mission to help students from India and beyond in developing their

Suddenly, I stumbled upon an unassigned PR. At first, I was going to do the Begone spell. It's where I close the PR and leave a brief comment explaining why it was closed, along with a link to the project’s Contributing Guide.

But then, as if summoned by a spectral force, the contributor returned from the shadows and offered a piece of advice. They suggested using the draft feature instead, as closing the PR causes new contributors to run away in fear. From that eerie encounter onwards, I've been placing unassigned PRs in draft mode. Much to my surprise, most contributors have willingly heeded the spirit of the guidelines and thanked me for my patience.

So, remember, giving contributors a second chance can be like offering them a potion of redemption. You'll be amazed by how it can transform their experience from a nightmare to a magical paradise.

Alright, now that you've conquered level 2, let's journey to level 3 and uncover a mystical tool that not only makes code reviews easier but also keeps your sanity intact amidst the Hacktoberfest madness. 👻🧙‍♂️🔮

Strategy 3: Use the reply bank spell

I've said this before, and I'll say it again – the Saved Replies feature on GitHub is like a magical elixir from the tech gods. It's your secret cauldron of comments, ready to be summoned in the Review Section of contributors’ Pull Requests, saving you from the scariest monster of all: a massive headache.

For instance, in my role as the maintainer of OpenSauced's guestbook

GitHub logo open-sauced / guestbook

The place where future contributors are born

Open Sauced

🍕 Guest Book 🍕

Welcome to OpenSauced's Guest Book Repository!

OpenSauced Guest Book

This guest book is a place for people who have taken OpenSauced's Intro to Open Source course to take their first steps into contributing to open source.

Getting Started

For complete instructions on how to add yourself to our guest book, please head to the "Let's Get Practical" section in our Intro to Open Source course.

Resolving Merge Conflicts

If you encounter merge conflicts while contributing to this repository, read our Intro to Open Source course's "Merge Conflicts in the Guest Book Repository" section.

What's Next?

You can add this contribution to your OpenSauced profile as outlined in the course.

Hungry for more contributions? Check out our pizza verse repository and join us in celebrating pizza!🍕😄

🤝 Contributing

All contributors are required to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please…

, I often encountered recurring issues like merge conflicts and missing information in PR templates. Tired of typing the same phrases over and over, like “We don’t accept spam PRs” and “We just merged some new PRs. Can you resolve the merge conflicts in your branch?”, I brewed them into templates and saved them replies. Now, I whip them out whenever these issues creep up.

If you want to master this enchanting feature, check out Creating a Saved Reply on GitHub’s docs.

Before I release you into the wild Hacktoberfest night, there's one more tool in our arsenal to help you survive your first Hacktoberfest. 🎃🔮

Strategy 4: Do the Enchantment of Benevolent Phrases

Maintaining open-source projects during Hacktoberfest can be a real spell-drainer, but bear with me. The contributors in this event are often newcomers, brimming with excitement and nerves, and they thirst for our words of encouragement.

One day, a contributor at LinksHub admitted their nervousness and guilt for not following the guidelines after I did the draft spell on their PR. I wanted to cheer them up so I shared my own experiences as a newcomer and compared making a Pull Request to preparing a meal. Treated with care, a contribution nourishes the project and enhances its beauty.

The result? The contributor thanked me with enthusiasm and continued to bless our project with their contributions. It's a testament to the magical power of kind words, which hold the potential to shape one's experience and guide them along their open-source journey. 🌟🔮📜

There it is my maintainers-in-training, 4 ways to survive Hacktoberfest. Now remember, whether it’s an awesome experience or a month-long time in open source, Hacktoberfest is an event of open source celebration, so enjoy it as much as possible. If you’re looking for other ways to survive Hacktoberfest, join Github’s maintainer community and talk to other survivors in their Hacktoberfest thread.


Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

Top comments (1)

oshratn profile image
Oshrat Nir

I'm keeping this for next August, when I start planning for Kubescape and Hacktoberfest, or maybe even for the Bug Bounty we are planning for December.