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Hacktoberfest Etiquette and Best Practices: A Guide for First-time Contributors

Posted on: Sep 23, 2023

7 mins read

Hacktoberfest Etiquette and Best Practices: A Guide for First-time Contributors

Etiquette is not just about following rules; it's about showing respect and consideration for others.

Welcome back to our Hacktoberfest journey! By now, you're well on your way to becoming a seasoned open-source contributor. However, contributing to open source goes beyond code and pull requests. It involves a set of etiquettes and best practices that ensure a harmonious and productive open-source community.

If you are joining us for the first time on this Hacktoberfest journey, check out our previous articles in The Beginners Guide to Hacktoberfest series to get up to speed. We have covered a lot, from the history of Hacktoberfest to how to find projects to contribute to and how to make your first contribution. This is an eight-part series, and we have much more to cover. So, be sure to check out the other articles in the series.

This article will delve into the essential Hacktoberfest etiquette and best practicesstarstarstarstarstarstar. Whether you're a seasoned contributor or just starting, understanding these principles will make your contributions more effective and make the open-source community a better place for everyone.

Open-source etiquette: The dos and don'ts

  1. Respect and inclusivity: Open source thrives on diversity. Treat all contributors, regardless of their background, with respect. Be mindful of your language and interactions. Inclusivity fosters a more vibrant and innovative community. Avoid offensive language, harassment, and discrimination. If you encounter any such behavior, report it to the maintainers.

  2. Mind the code of conduct: Every open-source project has a code of conduct. Please familiarize yourself with it and abide by it. It sets the ground rules for respectful behavior within the community. If you encounter any violations, report them to the maintainers.

  3. Be patient and courteous: Open source often involves asynchronous communication. Don't expect immediate responses. Be patient when waiting for feedback or replies. When you do respond, be courteous and constructive. Remember, maintainers and contributors are volunteers, too, and they have other commitments.

Asynchronous means:

Asynchronous communication is a method of communication where the sender and receiver don't have to be present at the same time. Examples include email, forums, and social media.

  1. Ask before you act: Before making substantial changes or introducing new features, discussing your intentions with the maintainers or other contributors is good practice. This helps avoid duplicated efforts and ensures your contribution aligns with the project's goals. You do not want to spend hours working on a feature only to find out that it's not needed.

  2. Be open to feedback: Open source is a collaborative effort. Be open to feedback and constructive criticism. It's an opportunity to learn and grow. If you disagree with the feedback, be respectful and explain your position. Remember, the goal is to find the best solution for the project.

  3. Don't be a jerk: This is a general rule of thumb. Don't be a jerk. Don't be rude, condescending, or dismissive. Don't make personal attacks. Don't be a troll. Don't be a jerk.

Open-source etiquette: The dos and don'ts

Open-source etiquette: The dos and don'ts

Best practices for effective contributions

  1. Follow the project's coding standards: Every project has its own coding standards and style guide. Please familiarize yourself with them and follow them. This helps ensure consistency and readability. Ask the maintainers or other contributors for feedback if you need clarification on the best approach.

  2. Use meaningful branch names: Branch names should be descriptive and meaningful. Avoid generic names like "feature" or "bugfix." Instead, use a descriptive name that conveys the purpose of the branch. For example:

bash
git checkout -b add-sms-feature
git checkout -b fix-login-bug
  1. Write clear commit messages: A well-crafted commit message is a gift to fellow contributors. Make your commit messages concise, descriptive, and informative. They should convey what the commit does and why it's necessary. Avoid vague messages like "fixes bug" or "updates code." Instead, use a descriptive title and provide context in the body of the message. For example:
bash
git commit -m "Added the new SMS feature to the app"
git commit -m "Fixed the bug that prevented users from logging in"

Commit messages should:

  • Be concise, descriptive, and informative.
  • Convey what the commit does and why it's necessary.
  • Use a descriptive title and provide context in the body of the message.

  1. Open an issue before trying to fix a bug or add a feature: Before fixing a bug or adding a feature, open an issue and discuss it with the maintainers. This helps ensure your fix aligns with the project's goals. It also helps avoid duplicated efforts. If you need help with the best approach, ask for feedback from the maintainers or other contributors. Most repos have an issue template that guides you on what information to include. Follow it.

Best practices for effective contributions

Best practices for effective contributions
  1. Creating meaningful pull requests: Provide context when submitting a pull request. Explain what problem the PR solves or what feature it adds. If it's related to an issue, reference that issue in your PR description. If you need help with the best approach, ask for feedback from the maintainers or other contributors. This helps ensure your PR is relevant and aligns with the project's goals. Most repos have a pull request template that guides you on what information to include. Follow it.

When creating issues or pull requests:

  • Provide context.
  • Explain what problem the issue or PR solves.
  • Reference related issues or PRs.
  • Follow the issue or PR template.

  1. Quality over quantity: Hacktoberfest encourages quality contributions. Instead of rushing to meet the required number of PRs, focus on making meaningful contributions that benefit the project. Avoid spamming the repo with low-quality PRs. Remember, quality over quantity.

How Hacktoberfest handles spamming:

Hacktoberfest has a zero-tolerance policy for spamming. If you spam a repo with low-quality PRs, your PRs will be marked as invalid. They won't count towards your Hacktoberfest contributions. Any user with two or more spammy PR/MRs will be disqualified.

  1. Readable code: Write easy to understand code. Follow the project's coding standards and style guide. Well-structured and documented code is more likely to be accepted. Besides, you'll be more likely to get feedback and help from other contributors. Forming a habit of writing readable code will help you in your career as a developer.

  2. Engage in discussions: Don't just drop your changes and disappear. Engage in discussions on issues and pull requests. Share your thoughts, ask questions, and be open to feedback. Collaboration is key in open source. Engaging in discussions helps you learn and grow as a developer. It also helps build a vibrant and innovative community.

Conclusion

Hacktoberfest celebrates open source, and understanding the etiquette and best practices is essential to being a valuable contributor. By respecting others, following best practices, and engaging in meaningful discussions, you'll not only enhance your own skills but also contribute to the growth of the open-source community.

Our next article will discuss the open-source communitystarstarstarstarstarstar. Understanding the community, its dynamics, and your role is essential to becoming a valuable contributor.

Remember, open source is about collaboration, and your positive contributions make a significant impact. Keep coding, keep collaborating, and keep the open-source spirit alive!

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I ensure respectful interactions in open-source projects?

To ensure respectful interactions, treat all contributors with respect regardless of their background, avoid offensive language, and be mindful of the project's code of conduct. Report any disrespectful behavior to the project maintainers.

2. What should I do if I receive negative feedback on my contributions?

If you receive negative feedback, remain open to it. Use it as an opportunity to learn and improve. If you disagree with the feedback, respond respectfully and explain your perspective. The goal is to find the best solution for the project.

3. How can I write clear commit messages?

Write clear, commit messages by making them concise, descriptive, and informative. They should convey what the commit does and why it's necessary. Use a descriptive title and provide context in the message body.

4. What's the importance of opening an issue before making changes in open-source projects?

Opening an issue before making changes helps you discuss your intentions with project maintainers and contributors. It ensures your contribution aligns with the project's goals, avoids duplicated efforts, and maintains project focus.

5. How can I engage in discussions effectively in open-source projects?

To engage effectively, share your thoughts, ask questions, and be open to feedback in issue and pull request discussions. Collaboration is key in open source and helps you learn and contribute meaningfully.

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