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GitHub’s guide to Hacktoberfest 2021

Giving back to open source projects is a great way to practice skills you don’t get to use in your day job. Check out ways to get involved!

GitHub's guide to Hacktoberfest 2021

It’s that time of year again! Whether your October is full of pumpkins or spring breezes (hello, Southern Hemisphere!), it’s sure to be Hacktoberfest season. Hacktoberfest is a yearly event to encourage people to contribute to open source in October. It’s a celebration of community, learning and giving back—topped off by DigitalOcean thanking participants. You can read more about the festivities—and the thank yous—on the official site.

In the past year, we’ve seen over 2.2 billion contributions to projects on GitHub from more than 65 million developers. Giving back to open source projects by contributing can be a great way to learn, practice skills you don’t currently get to use in your day job, and meet new people by working together on projects that you enjoy using.

To start, register as part of Hacktoberfest 2021 here:

New to contributing in open source?

Hacktoberfest can be an especially welcoming time to dip your toes into open source contributions for the first time. There’s plenty of streams, posts, guides, and conversations around getting started. You’re joining many folks also starting their journey this month!

Deciding where to start contributing

Hacktoberfest can be great for finishing off a project, or starting something fresh.

  • You can search the #hacktoberfest topic on GitHub and filter by programming language. There are over 74,000 projects participating in Hacktoberfest, so you’re bound to find something enticing.
  • Think about projects you already use and benefit from, or search through your own project’s dependencies. Hacktoberfest can be an especially welcoming time to contribute to projects that are new to you. Projects have to opt-in to participate, so you know that they’re hoping to meet and welcome new contributors.

A different kind of contribution this year

There’s a new way to contribute this year—financially. Hacktoberfest is the perfect time to give back to open source maintainers. Maintainers are the backbones of the software we all use. We all know backbones get sore after a long day, so consider sending them some support (and a lumbar pillow). The Hacktoberfest donation page is integrated with both GitHub Sponsors and OpenCollective to make it easy to find projects you’d like to thank. While you’re there, consider what smaller projects you benefit from and could especially use relative to resources.

You’re in good company

No need to go anything alone! There are currently 85 public virtual Hacktoberfest events listed, and more coming.

  • Jump into a Hacktoberfest-themed Meetup or hack session with folks from another city or country. It’s virtual, it’s global, it’s a great time to meet new friends. Along with all the great Hacktoberfest events, check out GitHub’s own virtual meetup.
  • Sick of being on screen? Listen in on a Twitter Space, or watch one of the many streams, including GitHub’s YouTube channel. We know you’re learning and folding laundry at the same time, and we approve.

Participating as a maintainer

Maintainers are the keystone of open source. This year’s Hacktoberfest has a new, added focus: empowering open source maintainers.

  • Maintainers decide whether their project participates. You can opt-in by adding the #hacktoberfest project topic to your repository.
  • If you’re maintaining and participating in an open source project, you can now win the same thank yous (trees > tees, etc.) during the month that contributors participate by accepting valid Hacktoberfest pull requests. Don’t forget to register!
  • If your project is registered through GitHub Sponsors or OpenCollective, folks will be able to find & give on the donation page!
  • Give credit where credit’s due. To further improve the experience maintainers have during Hacktoberfest, DigitalOcean drew on an advisory council of maintainers for advice and feedback that helped shape this year’s approach:

Leave the spam in the cupboard

  • Repositories need to opt-in to be involved by tagging themselves into the “Hacktoberfest” topic.
  • You can contribute to any project, but only ones that meet Hacktoberfest criteria are counted towards your Hacktoberfest participation.
    Brush up on the quality standards on the Hacktoberfest site before you begin.
  • Please be respectful and contribute in a way that makes the project better. Learning is encouraged and mistakes are fine, but spammy pull requests are the opposite of the open source ethos.
  • Remember, behind every open source project is a maintainer, usually a volunteer giving up their personal time to create something of value for the world. Don’t make them look at a pull request that’s only adding unnecessary punctuation somewhere.

Welcome to Hacktoberfest! Whenever you choose to do it, we want to thank you for your contributions to open source. Whether it be documentation, coding, supporting others, running projects, donating, running an event, tuning into a stream, or squashing bugs, Hacktoberfest is a pleasant reminder of what we do on GitHub all year long.

Register now, and we’ll see you in the repositories. 👋

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