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Lewis Sparlin
Lewis Sparlin

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Hacktoberfest and Hello

Hi πŸ‘‹, I'm Lewis! In addition to being a Hacktoberfest retro, this is also my DEV introduction. This being my first DEV post I'm tempted to ramble on a bit, but you can learn more about me in my bio if you're interested. This month I'll be doing my best to write more and share my experiences and what I'm learning. Although I have been working in tech for a long time, Hacktoberfest 2021 was my first earnest effort contributing to Open Source.

Hacktoberfest 2021

Hacktoberfest 2021 header from DigitalOcean
Hacktoberfest is:

a month-long celebration of open source software run by DigitalOcean

In a nutshell, developers were able to authenticate with Github and after 4 confirmed pull requests merged for open source projects, get free swag. Of course for many people, a free tee shirt isn't a huge motivator. Personally I felt it was a great learning experience and it was satisfying to give back to Open Source projects. The personal growth and community involvement were the greatest rewards.

Community πŸ’™

I was introduced to Hacktoberfest by a wonderful online community I joined this year, Virtual Coffee. Aside: you should join Virtual Coffee, they're the most authentic group I've ever met online!! As a community, they challenged members to be involved. They facilitated mentorship and had weekly check-ins to give everyone opportunity to talk about where they were contributing.

I had the privilege of mentoring @adiatiayu, who is well known here and on CodeNewbies for her excellent writing. I really enjoyed getting to know her and the maintainers I interacted with over the past month. As an introvert, doing Hacktoberfest with a community was the motivation I needed to really get involved.

Things I didn't know about Github

I've used Github for work for years, but there were several cool new things I learned thanks to getting into Hacktoberfest.

Getting a repository contributor-friendly
Thanks to @kirkcodes for this great presentation on VirtualCoffee's YouTube channel. I haven't had a chance to open source a project myself, so I'll be glad I wrote this down someday. Under the Github Insights tab, the community section has an interactive list of recommended as the ideal setup to start an open source project that is contributor-friendly. I knew about README of course, but there are so many other great ways for maintainers to guide their contributors.
Githubs community insight checklist

Pull Request Templates!
Having interacted now with several OSS projects that utilize this, it's now hard to imagine contributing without them. If you're not familiar, you can add the file .github/ to a repository and contributors will have a starting point when opening up a pull request! A pull request template can communicate to contributors what you expect them to describe in their pull request description. This is extremely helpful and allows contributors (like me) be familiar with expectations. Something simple like this would suffice in most cases.

## What Changed
<!-- describe what you changed -->

## Issues
<!-- mention the issue this addresses -->

## Screenshots
<!-- Add some screenshots -->
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Templates can also be created for the various types of issues as described by Github's documentation.

Building Confidence

Imposter syndrome is a regular topic in developer communities and it effects me too. Wavering confidence and the tendency to doubt my own abilities has been a consistent struggle throughout my journey as a developer. This last month I found that contributing to open source can be a great confidence boost. It feels good to get involved in projects I care about. There is affirmation in knowing that people I don't know appreciate code I send to them over the internet. I also learned new patterns and ways of approaching things by getting into other people's code. I highly recommend contributing to open source earlier than I did for those who have the ability. It's great for everybody involved.


The following projects all have excellent maintainers and core teams that were a joy to work with. I am especially fond of Forem (the DEV platform). Shoutout to @nickytonline and @coffeecraftcode for being extremely welcoming members of Forem. I plan to continue being a regular contributor thanks to the great experience I had during Hacktoberfest.

GitHub logo forem / forem

For empowering community 🌱

GitHub logo codethesaurus /

A polyglot developer reference tool to compare programming language concepts side-by-side! Great for learning new languages or using for reference.

GitHub logo Virtual-Coffee /

Public site for Virtual Coffee

Thank you to DigitalOcean and Virtual Coffee for the opportunity and encouragement to get involved in open source!

Top comments (4)

adiatiayu profile image
Ayu Adiati

Great write up, @lsparlin ! πŸ™Œ
And thank you for the mention!
I'm super happy that we crossed path and having you as my Hacktoberfest mentor (hopefully you would still want to mentoring me even after the Hacktoberfest ended!) πŸ˜„

Best of luck to keep contributing to Forem!
Hope one day I can contribute too πŸ˜„

lsparlin profile image
Lewis Sparlin

Thanks Ayu! That means a lot coming from you. Of course I would continue being a mentor for you. Hacktoberfest was only an introduction πŸ˜€

adiatiayu profile image
Ayu Adiati

Cheers to the upcoming sessions! 🍻

kirkcodes profile image
Kirk Shillingford • Edited

Lovely write up Lewis