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Krystal  Austin
Krystal Austin

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My Hacktoberfest Experience

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  Hey everyone, I want to share my Hacktoberfest 2021 experience. This was my second year to participate, and complete the challenge. I learned so much, and had a really great time contributing, and making a diff in the open source community.

Background

  I began learning to code last year Sept 2020, so I didn't know a whole lot yet when I participated in Hacktoberfest 2020. Most of my contributions were repo's created specifically for beginners, and were very small projects, which is fine, but I told myself that the next year I wouldn't be a beginner anymore, and I wanted to know enough by then to contribute to bigger repo's. At first I had a hard time finding something to work on, but I kept checking several sources, and found an article here about internationalizing Forem/DEV.

Progress

  I was extremely nervous to get started, but the directions in the article spelled everything out clearly, and I felt that I could take this on. I submitted my first pull request to this issue, and waited before opening another in the same issue in case things went horribly wrong, lol.

  I remember logging on, and seeing that it was accepted, and I started smiling so hard my face hurt. I was jumping up and down, and called to tell my husband.πŸ˜‚

  YAY, one down.

  My second pull request that I completed was in the same issue as the first, and it got accepted as well! After that I wanted to keep going with the same issue, but we were getting a lot of contributions fast, and the maintainers suggested we discuss how to organize the files before moving forward. I felt like I did not understand enough to give input on this, so I did not speak up. Instead I sit back, and "listened" for awhile.

  I noticed one of the other contributors that seemed to have a lot of knowledge. When they messaged back and forth with maintainers, it made sense to me. They were on fire, submitting several pull request that were merged. I always hear people talk about doing code reviews, and how it is important, so I began reading through their merged code, and it gave me a much greater understanding. It was easy for me to understand because each merge was a small, manageable chunk for me to analyze.

  I am glad that I took the time to do this because it taught me so much, and helped me to realize another learning resource that I have had all along. I plan to read more code in the future, even including going back and reading my own code.

Halfway there...

  I had been having a hard time finding other issues to contribute to, and we were getting closer to the end of the event. Sometimes I had negative thoughts about myself, but I was able to push them away, and did not give up. Even if I did not get my 4, I still had learned so much. I reminded myself that it wasn't just about completing the challenge, and winning the prize, but about the journey.

  I had forgotten about the Hacktoberfest discord, so I decided to check it out. I got a lot of great leads there, and I also came across a video from one of those leads showing how to search, and filter for better results in GitHub. I was able to find a few more issues to contribute to.

  My next contribution was building a search feature for a movie database. I built the HTML/CSS for the search bar, but I was having some trouble with the API and JavaScript. I sent what I had, and messaged the maintainer. I was a little nervous, and embarrassed, but the maintainer of the project was super nice. He was glad to have the part that I was able to complete, and accepted that, as well as, took the time to give me feedback, and some valuable resources. I am glad that I did not give up, and unassign myself, or I most likely would not have learned what I had from the maintainer.

  I decided to search for more translation issues, and found something perfect for me to work on. The issue was helping to translate the Python Docs into Spanish from English. I was excited because Spanish is usually the first language to be completed when I see maintainers asking for translation help. I am not fluent, but I do know quite a bit. I read all of the contributing documentation, and gave it a try, and...it was accepted!!

Some Things I Learned

  Don't be so hard on yourself. Be grateful for the small wins. Learning to code is not just about learning a programming language. So give yourself credit when you learn all the other small pieces too.

  I learned to work with multiple branches. I learned about fetch upstream to keep your repo up to date. I learned about I18n. I practiced my communication skills, and got more comfortable with asking questions.

Reflections

  I am so grateful for this event, and to all the maintainers. I know it takes hard work to keep up with the increased activity during this event. Sometimes I felt like I should not bother the maintainers with too many questions, or if I could not complete the task it would waste their time, but EVERY maintainer from every issue that I worked on was so nice, helpful, and patient with me.

  I hope that my experience encourages someone out there to keep going even when things get tough, and give yourself more credit because you deserve it. Also, remember to take breaks. Try not to think of breaks as cutting into your task, but as a required part of the task. πŸ˜„

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