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Contributing to Open Source: Hacktoberfest

October 03, 2023


  • Simon Verhoeven

    Simon Verhoeven is a Java software engineer that's interested in sharing experience, and always up for an interesting conversation.

Quite frequently when it comes to contributing to open source I hear questions/doubts such as:

  • where do I start
  • how do I find projects/issues
  • can I help out as a newbie
  • are there other ways I can contribute besides coding

Which is why I’d love to share a little bit about Hacktoberfest, which is an event organized by DigitalOcean that runs through the whole month of October that is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. It’s an event encourages people from all over the world, from all walks of life and all skill levels to contribute to open source projects.


Participating in Hacktoberfest is quite straightforward:

  • Register: Sign up for Hacktoberfest on the official website between September 26 and October 31. This is a simple step that helps you keep track of your contributions.
  • Find Projects: Look for projects on GitHub or GitLab that are participating (tagged with the "Hacktoberfest" label) to ensure your contributions count toward the event.
  • Read Contribution Guidelines:  Usually projects with have a README and/or CONTRIBUTING file containing some information on how you can contribute/how to find good tickets (such as tagged with #beginnerfriendly, #good-first-issue, etc.) Please follow these to make the experience as pleasant as possible for everyone
  • Contribute: find a good ticket, drop a mention you'd like to work on it to prevent multiple people working on it. And raise your merge request. Please do not be afraid of this process, they will provide helpful feedback in case any changes are needed

All kinds of contributions are possible, and you certainly don't need to be a developer:

  • publicity: writing a blogpost/making a YouTube video/making a clip/organizing an event or talk
  • artistic soul: plenty of projects are looking for help with UI design/assets
  • writing: adding a tutorial/helping with the documentation/help with translation
  • testing: thorough bug reports are always much appreciated

Please do keep in mind the core values:

  • everyone is welcome: whether you're writing your first line of code, or you're a veteran every contribution is much appreciated
  • quality over quantity: both for the projects, as your own development fewer, but more meaningful contributes are better
  • it all adds up:  it's amazing to see what can be achieved by all these contributions, and the contributions from those that contributed beforehand.

Advantages of contributing to open source

  • meeting likeminded people: you'll discover some superb people with similar interests & passions
  • learning & personal growth: it's a great way to discover a new domain/technology, and you will get great support & feedback from the organisers.
  • giving back: we all use a lot of open source libraries/utilities
  • career opportunities: you might discover some interesting projects, get deeply involved on them and you might get onboarded.

And in case of Hacktoberfest, the first 50 000 participants that complete a pull request/merge request will mean one more purchased tree through Tree Nation (yes, for those familiar with Hacktoberfest, there will be no more t-shirts ) and a digital reward pack (a customizable badge, and some surprises from the sponsors)


Hacktoberfest is a fantastic opportunity to engage with the open source community, enhance your skills, make a meaningful contribution to a project, and come in contact with some magnificent people


Hacktoberfest website

introduction to open source

How to use GIT


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  • Simon Verhoeven

    Simon Verhoeven is a Java software engineer that's interested in sharing experience, and always up for an interesting conversation.

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