DigitalOcean's Hacktoberfest is Hurting Open Source

thewdhanat profile image Thew Dhanat ・1 min read

There is a rising spam issue with hacktoberfest this year.

Which later results in the blog post "DigitalOcean's Hacktoberfest is Hurting Open Source"

There is also a discussion on Hacker News

Honestly, I enjoyed Hacktoberfest for many years but this problem is really hurting open source community. I hope DigitalOcean will take this seriously. Fortunately, DigitalOcean Community Platform Manager is looking into this.


Here are official responses


Editor guide

I kind of agree, but you can fight back, you have the option to mark PRs as spam or not productive and it won't be counted for them. Hopefully, this will discourage low-quality PRs.

I just saw someone's boasting about finishing the "challenge" and his 4 PRs is just adding his name to a list. so I am reporting all those repos in hacktoberfest website, and I hope you do too. If we all do that, next years might be better.

Update: it seems that Digital Ocean responded to the spam issue: hacktoberfest.digitalocean.com/hac...


In my opinion, it should be opt-in. Marking as spam can help, but that is not enough.

See this twitter response from DO: twitter.com/MattIPv4/status/131139... - they have only one person for Hf social, support & spam repo reports

And look what everybody else is facing:

Gosh, you mean, your team would have to deal with what ALL OF US ARE NOW DEALING WITH??

You're currently forcing that massive moderation pile on OpenSource maintainers instead of the people who created it, DigitalOcean. It's like Eternal September of Github.

Ugh, oh no, October is starting. Prepare for a month of spam pull requests... whatwg/html has already been hit hard, at 5 in the last 3 hours.

We're getting hit over at github.com/openstreetmap/openstree... and I've seen more at github.com/phpmyadmin/website . Marking as spam is futile - they only need 4 spam PRs ignored for a week and they get a free t-shirt - if that takes 16 junk PRs and 12 annoyed maintainers, you'll still reward them.


so I am reporting all those repos in hacktoberfest website

How can you report something that is not part of your own repositories (e.g. I cannot mark a PR of someone's else repository as spam or invalid).


It's a little buried under the resources page on their site, but there is the option to report entire repositories as spam on the Hf site: hacktoberfest.digitalocean.com/report. This can at least combat the spammy "Add your name to a list" repos.


Genuine question: How can beginners help maintainers?

I made a repo specifically for Hacktoberfest and the most basic issues were completed poorly or not at all. Someone tried to get a pull request by adding spaces to the README, then adding a reaction gif once I caught on.

I removed beginner-friendly from my repo tags and no longer tag the issues with Hacktoberfest.

I don't think Hacktoberfest shouldn't exist, but I'm trying to find out if it helps anyone besides the people getting a free T-shirt.


It would be interesting to find out some useful/spam ratio.

Personally, in the last two Hacktoberfest events I focused on resolving existing issues in projects, instead of doing cosmetic fixes. Perhaps it should be a requirement for the PRs to solve actual issues.


Are beginners capable of resolving existing issues?

The event is not beginners exclusive, although one of it's goals is to introduce new coders to collaboration on open source projects.

I think it's possible to find such issues, which matches the person's skill level, despite being new to coding. Or even if the person can not code yet, often projects have issues for either writing documentation or expanding translations.

I remain optimistic and believe that with appropriate briefing, even beginners can contribute meaningful content.


I think there should be an opt-in Option for this. When you want that someone contribute code to your repro you can opt-in. I think this would be the best solutions.

Of course I understand that some repro maintainer getting angry because of Spam Pull Requests. But you can also mark them as Spam and they will not count.


I really hate to hear this. I've always been a fan of Hacktoberfest, but it's really sad to see it just leading to a mass of spam PRs.


Yep, I've got only spam PRs instead of anything useful for past two years. So, I archived my repo two days back.


I think the spam is encouraged by this video (privated). It tells people to add "amazing" to every project.

You can watch it in this summary.


Hey Spammers, plz don't spam just get your free t-shirt


Since we likely can’t change the behavior of these participants entirely, we are creating a shortcut for these participants to get their shirt and move on, without having to spam repositories on GitHub.

Here are the specific changes we are working toward to accommodate this:
1)Recommending a new “shortcut” path towards getting a T-shirt by creating pull requests to your own repository (something we discouraged in the past).
2)Writing documentation to make the new path towards completion quick and simple.


Playing the devil's advocate, but isn't Hacktoberfest sort of encouraging this? I remember I read an intro to Hacktoberfest (don't know if it was on dev.to or on the DO site) last year, where it was stated something like this:

"Daunting? No a PR can be VERY simple! It can just be ... (some extremely simple and trivial 'contribution...')" ......... kind of encouraging people to issue these trivial PR's :-)

If you really wanna contribute in a deep and meaningful way then it's probably not possible to craft 4 great and helpful PR's in your spare time within 4 weeks, just to score your hipster t-shirt ... I can imagine that maintainers aren't eagerly waiting for an avalanche of these low quality trivial PR's. Long-term and deep commitment is what they need!


I agree, they should reduce trivial contribution encouragements, but focus on teaching how to spot and resolve simple issues.

From my experience, it's very possible to create 4 meaningful contributions within a month. Either by choosing a familiar project, or small enough project that is easy to set up and test. It all boils down to choosing the right projects to contribute to and issues to resolve.


Yeah, anybody who finished their Hacktoberfest already is almost certainly spamming. Four good PRs should not be this quick coming.


This is my first HF & today itself I saw many spam & very unrelevent issues(like revamp complete website, etc) & pull requests on the many of repo's.


Yeah, i wanted to participate in this year hacktoberfest but i knew that i didn't want to spam hell out of stupid PR..

I made already 4 mine, and they all are proper features.. Respect others!


New update from GitHub: twitter.com/github/status/13117727...

Temporary disable pull requests :)


God! People are literally begging to accept a PR! This is very frustrating and a total time waste which nonetheless make things messy. 😢


Interesting Announcement from Hacktoberfest:





You shouldn’t open pull requests just for changing a word in the document.