Today, I got my fourth pull request accepted as part of the Hacktoberfest and I wanted to share a few details about my experience and give some advice to anyone who is still participating.
This was my first time ever Hacktoberfest and I learned about it from my open-source course professor, David. At first, I was a little scared and worried as I was also a newbie in open-source. I was not sure if I could complete four contributions to other companies' or people's projects in such a limited time. However, I used that anxiety in my own good and started my research early. A few days before October even started, I started looking for the issues to work on or projects that I might get interested in. I wanted to start from something small and progress slowly to give myself time to get confident. Overall, everything turned out even better than I expected and now I have already done the required amount of PRs accepted although it is still the middle of the month.
By the way, you can find more details about my contributions during this month in the previous posts.
I learned a lot during these a few weeks and I wanted to share some of my important conclusions:
- First and foremost, open-source community is very welcoming!
So, never be scared to start or ask questions. No one is going to laugh at you or punish for asking for clarifications.
- Everyone can and should contribute to the open-source and every contribution is important!
Even if you are not a technical person or do not have much of coding experience, there are a lot of issues that only require writing skills such as working on documentation or translations.
If you are not sure if the issue is too hard for you, you can ask the maintainer for more details or even their opinion.
- Communication is key! Always stay polite, concise and kind.
If you found an issue that is of interest to you and it looks taken but here have been no updates for a long period of time, you can always ask to double check if the person is still working on it. If not, you can comment to let others know that now you will be working on it.
- Activity varies a lot, some projects or PRs are slow and some are faster, so it depends a lot on the project or change.
So before picking an issue, analyze the repo and plan accordingly:
- How fast people reply to issues questions or to the submitted PRs.
- How many ignored or forgotten PRs they have (if it goes back to 2015, this is a red flag)
- How many contributions or contributors they had
- Are there clear instructions or the contributions document (usually called CONTRIBUTING.md)
- Networking helps or as my prof says leverage the community.
Join different Slack or Discord channels. Some projects might have links to their channels where you can meet other contributors and ask for help. Hacktoberfest also has their official Discord channel so you can join it to find repos to work on, community and support.
- As a first timer it is alright to be lost and scared, but do not worry, you will definitely figure it out.
Some tips for my newbies would be to:
- Start early. Research and start looking for issues early to give yourself enough time. You will thank yourself later for that.
Learn Github advanced search.
Here is a Github doc on how to search for issues, but your main friends would be
is:opento look for open issues,
sort:comments-ascto view all Hacktoberfest issues with least comments, as well as
user:Microsoftif you want to filter a specific account or company. Here is a sample Url that you can use.
Search online for issues or repos.
Sometimes you may find good issues or repos from owners' blogs. For example, this post by @cicirello mentioned that they are looking for translation contributions. You can also look for
#contributorswantedtag inside the blogs.
- Search online for tips on contributing. I once landed on @sylwiavargas post about how to contribute to the projects' documentation and she made it so easy. There are so many tools and workarounds that you need but just do not know about yet. So, start looking!
I wanted to ask if anyone has other useful tips that I did not cover. Let's share and help each other complete this Hacktoberfest successfully and prepare better for next one!