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Hacktoberfest 2021: through the eyes of a beginner

Hacktoberfest is a month-long celebration of open source software run by DigitalOcean. It's a great opportunity for both beginners and professionals to get started with open-source contribution.

I feel extremely proud to have successfully completed Hacktoberfest 2021 with a total of 5 merged pull requests on GitHub under my belt. This was also my first time contributing to open-source and it was an amazing experience. In this article, I'll be briefly talking my personal journey throughout Hacktoberfest, how to make your first contribution and also some do's and don'ts for beginners who want to start with open-source.

Hacktoberfest through the eyes of a beginner

Believe me when I say this, I had absolutely no knowledge about open-source or even GitHub before participating in Hacktoberfest. And my techstack consisted of only HTML/CSS and a little bit of JavaScript. I think it's safe to say that it was all a little overwhelming for a complete beginner like me.
But with the guidance of the coordinators and the Hacktoberfest mentors and my peers, I was able to make my first contribution successfully.
The requirements to complete Hacktoberfest is to submit a minimum of 4 valid pull requests in the month of October. If all pull requests get approved by maintainer and are merged into the repository, you will be eligible to receive the swag kit!
I'd fixed 3 syntax errors and re-designed 2 contact forms as part of my contributions this year which is a total of 5 valid pr's and as promised, my limited edition t-shirt is on its way!

Do's and Don'ts while making your first contribution

Contributing to open-source can be confusing as a beginner. I personally made a lot of mistakes during Hacktoberfest 2021 even after doing so much research. Guess some things can only be learned from experience haha.
Here is a list of some do's don'ts which might be helpful to future contributors:

  • Search for good and active repositories. Look for issues to fix or add your own section of code.
  • Always go through the ReadMe file. Maintainers often explain the process of contribution to their repo in their file.
  • Search for repositories with the Hacktoberfest-accepted tag. Henceforth, you can look for repositories labelled with good-first-issue for some beginner-friendly projects to contribute to.
  • Do not limit yourself to only 4 pull requests, and try to make as many contributions as you can
  • Do not make contributions to repositories instructing to add simple one-line commits. These repositories often get rejected.
  • Do not make contributions to repositories accepting basic Data Structure codes. This goes against the rules of Hacktoberfest and your pull request will be marked invalid.
  • Keep track of your profile on the official Hacktoberfest website. It's good practice to be updated about your progress.

IMPORTANT: One very common doubt I found many people were facing and something I personally faced as well was regarding the review period or maturing period of merged pull requests.
Hacktoberfest has a policy of making all accepted pull requests to go under a 14-day review period for validation by maintainers. If your contribution passes this period, it's marked valid and counts towards Hacktoberfest.
As long as your pull request was merged in the month of October, your contribution will count even if the review period goes beyond the month of October.

And that was all about my experience in contributing to open-source as a complete beginner. Feel free to reach out if you want to discuss more Hactoberfest or open-source, I love to interact with more developers.
You can also find me on Twitter

See you at Hacktoberfest next year!

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