Last year I started to work on finishing up HacktoberFest but being new to the open source community I ended up letting it lapse and didn't really manage much. This year I was determined to get it done, then 2020 happened I forgot all about it until the start of October, I didn't expect to get it done but all things against me I pulled it off.
Each year Github along with Digital Ocean host HacktoberFest which gives anyone the ability to get involved in the open source community, it is a pretty great initive and one I have wanted to be appart of for sometime, I was however always somewhat intimidated by it. Dealing with lots of different people working on building projects can be a challenge to get yourself involved in anything and it can be just easier to avoid doing it altogether.
This year I had originally planned to complete Hackoberfest however I totally forgot about it after a rather busy year until I saw an add for it on digital ocean just at the start of October. Luckily I dedicated a good few days to throwing myself into the month and was able to knockout a few PRs early giving me a bit of time to browse around looking at different projects and having the very real realisation that most of these projects are not crazy complex and high level, the type we expect from the famous open source projects such as React, Electron, VS Code, etc... In reality the majority are quite amaturish or beginner level projects.
Now of course the community is massive and there are a ton of very high level projects but as GitHub is open to anyone and as I create quite a lot on it myself it probably should not have really surprised me that the reality is a lot of the projects are just students working on getting some experience in, or developers playing with something on the side, not so many are semi-pro or professional level at least from what I saw and of course that is a small section of a huge site, but I think this realisation really helped me to feel much less intimiated by this challenge.
It is pretty great to find new communities and fun projects that people are working on, some are pretty small and a common one is Discord bots due to the strong API from Discord and the relatively easy of intergration. The communties exist largely on Discord as well which provides a good place to meet and talk to a wide range of different people from all over the world. The code level and standards varry widely along with technologies and even versions being used, it is a very different experience to working within a tech company and largely feels less structured with a bit more individual contrabutor feel rather than working as much as a team, it is diferent but something well worth doing.
Going in I felt very intimiated and didn't really know where to start of course looking at a new codebase can be quite a challenge and takes sometime to get to understand the standards used along with naming and overall structure which is the same as when you start working on any codebase, just this time it is entirely for fun! It does provide some rather good learning experience, it gives you a chance to see what other developers do along with standards used and practices; you start to really see a lot of different project and start to figure out how to run debug and write code for them; and of course you get a good chance to learn how to do things differently some good some not so good but it provides a much wider perspective and that is always a good thing because we can easily get trapped in a small bubble of what we know and where we know without a wider sense to how we maybe should try and do things and this is very important to continually grow as a developer.
Although I only dipped my toe into Hacktoberfest this year I managed to acheive more PRs than required in a range of different projects, it was fun I feel I learnt quite a bit and hopefully goes a bit of a wider perspective for software developement in general which is something I feel is very important. I aim to keep contributing to some open source projects of the next year, I am not sure if I have found the one that I am really compelled with yet but I aim to keep looking. Along side that I am also aiming to focus a lot of my freetime effort into just one promising project over this next year and see how it goes, I may open source it as well once I have a bit more grounding on what I want it to be and where I want it to go but I'm not completely sure yet although I would really like to start my own community so we will see hopefully before next Hacktoberfest!