Want to contribute to Open Source? Do something meaningful

Dear student,

Great to see your interest and enthusiasm in sending this contribution to this repository! Welcome to the world of open source :slight_smile:

Now take a deep breadth. Look at your contribution. Does this make sense? Is this a contribution you feel is worthy to attach your name it it?

Do you know many open source contributors volunteer their time to look at new contributors and they get tons of such requests. Is it worth their time? Probably no. You just want the shiny t-shirt.

Here is what you should do.

  1. Delete this pull request.
  2. Take sometime to understand the application, who is it designed for? how does it work?
  3. Install it locally and play with it.
  4. Read the code and try to understand the architecture.
  5. Find something missing? See if there are already fixes suggested.
  6. Find something you can fix? Awesome, implement the fix and send the PR.

The t-shirt is not really important. Your reputation is. Next time, try a bit harder.

~ Your friendly neighbourhood open source maintainer.



^ Relevant thread on spammy Hacktoberfest PRs from the Indian dev community. It’s a shame that we as a community is painted in this light because many of us fail to grasp the spirit of this event, or FOSS in general. The act of blatant vandalism (one word PRs) on people’s projects is an insult to the hard work the project maintainers have put in, and it’s also an insult to one’s own dignity.

A t-shirt or a bullet point on a CV is not worth the loss of dignity. That’s not the spirit of engineering, hacking, and FOSS. It’s a matter of common decency and courtesy.


Sorry to digress, but we should probably also look into creating a solution that might help nurse the conscience of individuals who have already attained the 4 PR checkpoint and working with DigitalOcean help out a clothe bank / NGO.

I believe DO does this otherwise as well, but we might provide more awareness to the initiative and possibly push it on the FOSS United platform, giving it more legitimacy.

I think the problem isn’t one-word PRs. I have personally made multiple one-word PRs (mainly typos) into the HTML spec repoistory (the one mentioned in the blog post linked in that thread) and the maintainers are very welcoming. The problem that I see currently happening is totally bizarre and unrelated PRs hitting repos in general (like someone trying to add Food recpies into HTML spec repo).

Intially I assumed this was an innocent mistake by a few new contributors but the sheer scale at which I saw this was happening, I concluded somebody had misguided a lot of people. I did some digging around and came across multiple Youtube videos encouraging people to copy code & send PRs to placeholder repositories (specially created for purpose of Hacktoberfest and accepting all PRs done on them) to get a free T-shirt. Also came across videos that were encouraging people to fork repositories, edit Readme file (or other files), add any content to them and send a PR to the original repository.

Most of the people doing these PR requests aren’t even aware how Github works (for example, I came across a spam PR in which the author was fighting with project maintainers regarding sending them emails. Those email in question were automated in nature and were being sent because the author’s username had been mentioned.) and are simply mimicking what is being told in Youtube videos.

These videos are the likely reason behind so many spam PR happening on projects

Edit: I missed this but someone had already found the root cause of the issue as discussed in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24658052.

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