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Jemimah Nagasha
Jemimah Nagasha

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Open Source Contributions β€” How I Started Contributing To Open Source

You've probably heard about the open source community by now. You might have even tried your hand at contributing to a project. But how did you get started? Should you just jump on a project and start contributing? I'm going to share with you my experiences in starting out, what worked for me, and what I've learned so far.

Starting Out

For any tech newbie, contributing to open source projects can seem a daunting fit to accomplish. I chose to start my journey with the Hacktoberfest 2022 challenge.

Hacktoberfest is a month-long celebration run by DigitalOcean to celebrate and give back to open source projects and software. The initiative is open to everyone, and the goal is to encourage everyone in our global community to contribute to open source.

During hacktoberfest, maintainers from all around the world tag issues as "hacktoberfest" and "good-first-issue". Most of the issues are beginner friendly, especially for first time contributors. This was a good time for me to start out because of the worldwide support for contributors.

First PR - Hydrogen (Social media web app)

I found a project to contribute to through the hacktoberfest discord channel. Whenever I am starting something new, I always want to start with something familiar and easy to get a feel of how things are done before diving into the deep end. This project provided a great starting point for me.
Hydrogen is a social media web app powered by SolidJS. My first issue was the simplest; adding a delete account tab in the settings section of the web app. The maintainer was very responsive and helpful. Even though this contribution was tiny, having it merged gave me an immense confidence boost.

More PRs

I had planned to make a total of 4 contributions for the month of October (one for every week). I decided to tackle other issues within the same project, now that I was familiar with the codebase. The other 3 issues I worked on revolved around fixing accessibility issues for various pages. I learned a lot about accessibility and using the lighthouse tool to make checks and improvements. I'll be sharing more about making accessible web pages as I learn. I hope you stick around for that πŸ˜‰


Hacktoberfest πŸŽƒ has come to an end and I am so glad for choosing to participate. And even though getting swag was not my intention, I managed to qualify for it 🀣 yey! Anyway, here are a few take aways;

  • Start small. All contributions matter.
  • There is always someone in the community willing to help. Don't be scared to ask.
  • Always aim to make meaningful contributions to the projects you commit to.
  • Most importantly, before you make that PR, Read the contribution guide.

Thank you for reading this far!πŸ˜€ Contributing to open source projects and software does not end with Hacktoberfest. Find a good first issue and give back to the world through your contributions.
May the merge be with you πŸš€πŸš€πŸš€

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