DEV Community

Cover image for Is your GitHub empty?
Eliot Sanford
Eliot Sanford

Posted on • Updated on

Is your GitHub empty?

🟩 As a developer, your lack of GitHub contributions does not necessarily indicate that you aren't good at coding, but it can be a wasted opportunity to confirm that you're passionate and good. 🟩

To help change this, here are four ideas to contribute more to GitHub. πŸ’‘

1️⃣. Private repos

Create a private repo and add at least 1 sentence of what you studied/worked on into a readme at least every weekday. 🟩

Make it your own little journal. πŸ““

I did not do this but heard of others who have.

It would be good practice for #100DaysOfCode or studying algorithms.

2️⃣. Committing often

Make a small commit often during the time you code (3 hours a weekday at minimum is best)

Get something to finally work? Commit 🟩

Ending the day? Commit a WIP (work in progress) 🟩

Branching off and trying something that might break the app? Commit working code first 🟩

3️⃣. Issues

Create issues for projects πŸ‘

See something that needs to be developed❓

Click "New Issue" and fill in the details. 🟩

Keep tasks small β€” think "Is it doable in a sprint or two?"

Web devs work with an issue every day, e.g. "feat: create responsive navbar with bootstrap"

4️⃣. Perspective

Remember that your GitHub graph is not you or where you find your value, but it doesn't give a good impression if it's completely empty. ⬜️ 😬

When your graph is on fire, then people see you as someone who shows up and knows GitHub and git concepts.πŸ”₯

At best, you're a competent professional rather than a novice that must be guided, or worse you're just lazy.

Take initiative and do something to show what you know, especially if you're self-taught.


This list isn't exhaustive. There are many ways to contribute like forking a repo, making a pull request, reviewing code, etc.

Activity on GitHub is a great way to showcase your expertise and allow them to cut past questions about what you do and don't know.

Recruiters and hiring managers do look at it, so why not leave a great impression because guess what? It costs you nothing to be active on GitHub.

I would highly suggest improving your graph with these small steps first, then branching out. 🌳

Pun intended. πŸ˜‰

Top comments (12)

joeattardi profile image
Joe Attardi

Nope. Sorry but this is nonsense and I really wish this would stop being perpetuated.

The idea that you're showing expertise, etc. just because you have green on your GitHub contributions graph is ridiculous. GitHub is not some barometer of whether someone is a good developer or not.

Some of the best engineers I've worked with don't even have a GitHub account.

Open source work is not always representative anyway of what a person will produce in a professional "day job" environment anyway.

People should have a life outside of work. People have families, other interests. This "side project" culture needs to go away for good.

Remember that your GitHub graph is not you or where you find your value, but it doesn't give a good impression if it's completely empty.

This is such a bad take. This advice is harmful to newbies especially.

techieeliot profile image
Eliot Sanford

Good points, Joe. I understand where you're coming from and agree a lot with you.

Good developers can have empty GitHub profiles and just entirely leave code at work. There is nothing wrong with having zero open source projects and no side projects.

I have not said that it's a measure of being good, but I have said that it's a wasted opportunity to make a good impression on someone that can hire you. A GitHub presence is not the mark of greatness, but people notice your profile contributions and can find meaninful value in that.

I've also not said that anyone should code everyday to the point that it's harmful. You'll burn out. You're right that people can take the green squares on GitHub too far. It should be mentioned.

Contributing to GitHub can be very helpful though. I've seen this fact to be true in my own career and for others. It's an industry specific platform that people look at, so I put my projects there and contributed where everyone could see that. Multiple people along my journey and in the hiring process have told me that my GitHub contributions meant something to them. It was one of the only things I had to show people that I understood how to be a developer.

It was a huge piece of my portfolio that allowed me to career switch in my 30's and completely change my life for my family. Now I can have a life outside of work because I don't need two dead-end jobs to support my family.

Respect that you're an author and the years of experience you have, Joe. Seriously, nothing but respect because you're a better and more senior developer than me. I appreciate the feedback, and I'll likely update the post based on your response here.

In my former life as a journalist, we would have opinion pieces where one week was one side of the argument, then the next week was the other side. Would love to read a rebuttal post on the flip side from you and promote it. People need to know what you're saying also.

dterracino profile image
David Terracino

I agree that it isn't the best situation, and it's especially unfair to the vast swatch of developers that aren't involved or interested or just plain don't have time to contribute to random OSS development on top of everything else. This doesn't make someone a poor or incapable developer in any way.

I think (hope) that this post was making the suggestions that it was not because it necessarily demonstrates your abilities in any way; rather, because many employers now include reviewing your GitHub profile as a standard part of the application review/interview process. And as much as that sucks, it's something that most people applying for a development position need to be aware of now, for better or worse. :(

rammina profile image

I agree with committing your markdown notes from learnings!

I've been doing it for my 100 Days of Code Challenge, and it definitely helped me stay green!

techieeliot profile image
Eliot Sanford

That's wonderful! Way to go!

sayandeepmajumdar profile image
Sayandeep Majumdar

Well written buddy. Every beginners should start like this.

techieeliot profile image
Eliot Sanford

Thanks! I agree.

juanfrank77 profile image
Juan F Gonzalez

I think my Github has been fluctuating since the first years I started coding. Although over the last 4 years I've been doing coding professionally it has been having a declining trend (maybe it is matching my current interest and the life stage I'm currently at)

herculeskan profile image
Carlos E. Lara

Thank u for the advice!

techieeliot profile image
Eliot Sanford

You're welcome, Carlos.

wilhelmmurdoch profile image
Wilhelm Murdoch

May I present a partial solution:


joeattardi profile image
Joe Attardi

Thanks for pointing out that GitHub squares are meaningless!