This year I participated in DigitalOcean’s Hacktoberfest 2017. The mission of Hacktoberfest is to help the open source community on GitHub grow and flourish by getting people involved in open source. It’s an event that DigitalOcean has hosted annually since 2014. Participants this year were challenged to open 4 pull requests in public GitHub repos during the month of October, with the promise of a Hacktoberfest 2017 T-shirt should they accomplish this. This year was my first time hacking for Hacktoberfest, and I would say it went very well!

Getting Involved

The hardest part of Hacktoberfest was finding projects to contribute to. In fact, that may be one of the hardest things about open source software, at least for a beginner. Looking at projects across GitHub can be very intimidating. Imposter syndrome seems to rear its ugly head just when I find a project that seems interesting, and that I would like to contribute to. “I probably can’t help this project,” “I don’t know enough about X technology,” thoughts like these fuel the self-doubt of the open source neophyte, and can pose a huge hurdle for those wanting to get involved.

All those things are in your head! No one can take the first step for you - whether it’s opening your first Issue on GitHub, reaching out to a project maintainer to inquire about contributions, or submitting your first Pull Request. This first step is difficult, but it is the first step in your open source journey.

For me, Hacktoberfest 2017 wasn’t my first contribution on GitHub. I’d contributed a few times to the Google Chrome extension streamkeys. That was my first experience contributing on GitHub, and it was nerve-wracking! But I couldn’t be more glad that I took that first step and made a pull request. Being able to take a project you enjoy using and make it better is a great feeling. Now, onto Hacktoberfest!

My Hacktoberfest Contributions

The pull requests I created during October 2017 that counted towards the 4 pull requests for Hacktoberfest can be seen at the official tracker here. Here’s a breakdown of my each of the projects I contributed to.

1. berrberr/streamkeys (again)

I contributed to streamkeys again! This contribution originated from when I noticed this issue, and culminated in my creation of this pull request. I try to glance through new streamkeys issues fairly regularly, to see if there’s something new I can help with. It’s definitely the Chrome extension I use the most, and the fact that it is open source is a huge plus.

2. lilbud/es-theme-flat

This pull request was a long time in the making. My fork was created months ago, and the commit that became my pull request was created back in May! With this one, I originally forked the repo to make a few small changes for my own use. So, in May, I created the fork, made my changes, but kept them in my own fork only. Creating the pull request was never something I intended - I told myself that the owner of the repo surely had a reason for not already having the changes I had made. Time passed, and then Hacktoberfest came, and I was suddenly incentivized to create the pull request, something I would not otherwise have done at all. In that regard, Hacktoberfest is a fantastic thing! It helped me (and probably others) get over the doubt I had over submitting my changes as a pull request. My contribution was pull request #7.

3. FrogTheFrog/steam-rom-manager

Not only is this a new project to me, it’s also a new programming language! I’ve worked with JavaScript before but never Typescript. That said, my contribution here was minimal enough that my existing JavaScript/Nodejs knowledge applied. This is a really cool project and I’m looking forward to what its future holds! I made pull request #57 here.

4. mmare899/CroFlys

This pull request was of a less serious nature. The repo was of a co-worker learning about Git and GitHub, and the pull request was a little bit demonstrating how the process works, but mostly just for fun! #2 was my only contribution here.

5. nightblade9/haxesharp

I happened upon this repo mostly by accident. While searching for Haxe projects that were updated recently, I happened to catch this one early in development. I reached out to the owner, GitHub user nightblade9, to ask about contributing. Even though it was early in the project’s life, they were very welcoming! Not only did they welcome contributions, but they were very forthcoming with guidance and advice along the way. So, a big thank you to nightblade9 for helping make my Hacktoberfest a success. My pull requests here were #2, #4, #9, and #11.

Final Thoughts

Hacktoberfest 2017 was a success, if I do say so myself. I am also happy to say that I wasn’t the only one in my office to participate; 2 other developers on my team also joined in, and those are just the co-workers I know of who participated! I like to think their lives will be more enriched by becoming involved with open source software, but at the very least they can be happy that I won’t be badgering them to participate in Hacktoberfest anymore - at least, not until next year. Hacktoberfest 2018, here we come!