Better Developer

Corey Prak

Hacktoberfest 2018: Get a Shirt, Contribute to Open Source, Increase Your Nerd Cred

You’re the Best, Digital Ocean.

Digital Ocean is running their Hacktoberfest event for the sake of Open Source: contribute to open source five times and receive a free tshirt.

“First of all, as a nerd, I love programming/tech/geek tshirts. I used to have a Linux tshirt with Tux which said, ‘TUX IS MY HOMEBOY, and I’m confident my fello nerds would agree, shirts are swell.”

One of my favorite contributions to open source landed me a tshirt from SendGrid. I also got a pen, a notepad, and a patch that noted that I was a contributor.

I added four lines of code which checked to see if something failed. See the PR here. I didn’t add any crazy new feature or provide any kind of contribution that took up a substantial amount of time. Improvements to open source not only include code corrections and improvements, but additional documentation, typos, even comments in code counts.

The point is that I contributed to open source. I improved the code base. It was code that I was using in my own projects anyways, so I made things better for myself. My improvement also means that I save people time.

More on Open Source Contributions…

When you improve code and contribute to open source, you save someone else the time taken to run into that situation, identify a need for a change, and implement it. Now mutiply that number by a just a few, or even a few thousand times (this multiple based on the number of people utilizing the code/project, which depends on popularity, etc). That sum accounts for others who will run into that same situation. That’s a lot of time.

You improve code, save time, and participate in the evolution of a project. That’s huge. Again, don’t think that a contribution needs to be substantial. My goal to get my first one was to just get something. I ended up adding new names to a list of names that randomly generated soliders was based off of. See that PR here (anyone watch Full Metal Alchemist? haha).

Making Contributions Work For You

While the notion of contributing to open source can be regarded as volunteer work, as giving back, you get to actually make it work for you in some pretty neat ways.

From my work, I get to say that I contributed to open source, that I care about making code better for the greater good. That allows me to advertise my passion for software development (since a lot of contributions are basically done for free) and my competency in collaborating with people and writing code to an acceptable standard. It’s work to be proud of, for sure.

Like charity work or volunteer efforts that people may list on their website or resume, you can advertise the fact that you’re a contributor to open source in the same way.

Trust me, that’s huge. Especially when you’re trying to stand out from people who have a college degree, hefty github profile with projects, or professional work experience.

The Better Developer Community’s Effort

The team here in the Better Developer community has been rallying to be among those first 50,000 people to get their hacktoberfest tshirt. Shan finished in one day.

Check out our Google doc which keeps track of our progress: Like contributing to open source, collaboration is key. Join our Discord and meet people who are just starting their journey in Software Development, are where you are in your journey, and even people who are working in the field professionally.

Build your network and work with people who can help you get your tshirt and help you go beyond yourself as you strive to achieve your goals.

Get Started

For people who have no idea how to get started, I always recommend the resource First Timers Only. In addition to having documentation in getting started with doing open source work, they have a simple project whose sole purpose is to help people make their first pull request – you literally just add yourself as a contributor to that repository and commit that change. Their README.md for that project is gold.

To find projects which have issues that need some help, checkout Up For Grabs which allows you to filter projects for useful characteristics such as programming language + ones that would be great for first timers.

In Closing

Join the discord here

If you’re looking for another nice PR to count towards your shirt, the Better Developer Community has a repository for learning resources which could use anyone’s input, check it out here.

I’ll end this with two quotes:

For encouragement, teamwork, and incentive to join the community:

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
– No Idea, Seriously

For inspiration in, uh, going beyond:

"To infinity, and beyond!!!"
– Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story

Talk to me and other people in the Better Developer community directly on the Discord. Let’s get us some nerd swag!