Hacking on Hacktoberfest

Hacking on Hacktoberfest

Have you ever wanted to contribute to Open Source software but weren’t sure where to start?

Do you like winning T-Shirts?

Then I have something for you!

What is it?

Hacktoberfest is a month long celebration of open source software and specifically about contributing to the packages we all use.

It is a great chance to jump into open source and contribute back to it! It is a great way to improve projects or to learn a new skill. The best part is you don’t have to be an expert or a developer to make a contribution.

How can I help out?

It is super easy!

One misconception is that you have to be a developer in order to contribute. This isn’t the case! There’s plenty of need for documentation, testing, and just plain discussions.

This year I decided to try and learn a new language by working through an issue (or two) for Hacktoberfest. I have been really curious about
and JWT. I noticed that the Clojure library for JWT had some features that were missing.

As it happened, I also was able to do some Pull Requests for some work related libraries which was a really nice bonus!

How do I find things to work on?

If there’s any programs or libraries you use on a regular basis, I would encourage you to go check those out first. The issues tab and see if there’s anything there that looks interesting!

Some project will mark issues with special tags like “hacktoberfest” or “beginner” and those are great issues to look at first. They typically are things that would really help the project so if you can jump in there it would make the world a little bit better.

One of the lesser known things about GitHub is the powerful search engine. It can be used to find a lot of different things such as specific code chunks, or conversations about a topic, or even specific types of files!

We can use this to find all kinds of interesting and easy-to-work-on problems.

For example you can search for issues labeled “hacktoberfest” to see things that maintainers have specifically marked as being a good for contributing.

Searching pro-tips

Here’s a good base search to help get you started:

https://github.com/search?q=label%3Ahacktoberfest&state=open&type=Issues

This search will look for any open issues that are labeled “hacktoberfest”. As I type this there are over 29,000 open issues!

To help narrow it down, try selecting a language from the list on the left side of the screen. This will narrow the list significantly to only the language you are interested in.

I used that to look for Clojure and Python issues which helped me get to interesting problems faster.

Bonus tip: If you are nervous about contributing code, many project also welcome documentation updates! Try searching for commonly misspelled words and you will find tons of repositories that you could make a pull request to.

Wrapping up

Open Source software is awesome. If you know it or not, you are probably using it right now.

Why not try and contribute to it? Its easy, and can be a lot of fun!

And winning a free t-shirt is always awesome. 🙂