Hacktoberfest is a yearly event to encourage people to contribute to open source in October. It’s a celebration of community, learning and giving back. Hacktoberfest is a great opportunity to learn what contributing is all about, meet a new developer community, and maybe even earn some prizes along the way.
If you’re a beginner it can be difficult to get started with open-source. Sometimes it’s hard to onboard with new technology. Even once you’re familiar with the repo, tags like "#good-first-issue" might have been completed by someone else.
Thankfully this year, Hacktoberfest is counting documentation as a valid contribution!
Documentation is a great way to contribute to repositories. Often developers don’t prioritize their readmes and tutorials. They’ll contain bugs, errors, be confusing, poorly formatted, etc. How many times have you come across incorrect or outdated docs yourself?
Documentation is hugely important to open source. Every developer that gets started with a new project needs to read the docs. Yet it’s not a priority for most developers. From the 2017 GitHub survey:
According to 93% of respondents there is a "pervasive problem" in the open-source community with incomplete or outdated documentation. Yet 60% of contributors surveyed said they rarely or never contribute to documentation.
Seems like a big problem right? Well this Hacktoberfest, you can help by making some of your own contributions to open-source documentation.
Note that if you’ll likely need to become familiar with markdown to work with
.mdfiles. Don’t worry, it’s easy and you can learn it in a few minutes.
Easy ways to contribute to Hacktoberfest documentation
- Format the repository readme. Often times the project readmes are a loose collection of thoughts, without headings, titles, or any kind of formatting. Study that markdown guide and spruce it up!
- Elaborate on installation steps. Developers often write very short setup steps, sometimes just a list of shell commands without explanation. You can help improve the readme by noting specific package versions, adding links to 3rd-party documentation, and explaining the setup process in plain english
- Fix bugs in code samples. Every readme has bugs, even those created by huge companies. Try making use of all the code samples in the readme. It’s likely something won’t work or a step will be missed.
- Enhance the readme with screenshots and videos. – Working on a front-end repo or CLI? Add screenshots or replays to the documentation to help other developers follow along.