A maintainers guide to Hacktoberfest

Joseph Schiarizzi
Published in
3 min readSep 25, 2018


By now you have hopefully heard of Hacktoberfest, an initiative from GitHub to encourage everyone to contribute to open source projects in the month of October. By making 5 pull requests to open source repositories on GitHub, participants can earn a special T-shirt, prestige, and the feeling that they contributed to a more open world.

Here are some tips for how repo maintainers can get the most out of this awesome event.

0. Use Gitcoin Requests

Gitcoin is not an official partner (this time), but we are participating by supporting our favorite open source projects. Submit an issue to Gitcoin Requests with the label “Hacktoberfest” and you may find a bounty added to it. We’re also a sponsor for GitHub Universe in a few weeks.

1. Avoid fixing easy issues

When you spot a quick fix it is tempting to just make the change and be done with it. However, if you label an easy issue “Good First Issue” you will encourage more new people to work on it and grow your community.

2. Make sure the README is clear

Double check the steps for deploying locally and editing your project are clearly laid out.

3. Add the Hacktoberfest label to issues soon

There are already over 11,000 issues labeled Hacktoberfest on GitHub right now. And people will be actively searching for them. Starting adding the label to any issue you think someone could complete in October.

11,518 open issues for Hacktoberfest as of 9/18

4. Merge PRs often

When participants see that the maintainers are actively merging pull requests they will be more likely to make one themselves. Try to set aside a few minutes every day to do some merges.

5. Make issue and PR templates

GitHub let’s you easily make a template for issues and PR’s, so your contributors know how you’d like to see information provided. When all the pull requests have the necessary information it will be faster for everyone to get new code merged correctly.

6. Set a goal, document it

Set a specific goal for where you want your project to be at the end of October. What has to happen to get there? Document these things in top of the README so new contributors can see how their work makes a difference.

7. Leverage your community

Let them know you are looking for help. When you see repeat contributors, consider giving them more responsibility, and asking them to review PRs. Remember, you don’t have to be alone on your open source journey.

8. Take a break

Your project is awesome and you love it. But it’s okay to take a break sometimes too. As a maintainer, you run the project, it doesn’t run you.

To learn more about Gitcoin’s Hacktober (or Gitcoin in general), click below. We welcome you on our journey to grow open source while changing the way we work!



Joseph Schiarizzi
Writer for

Hi there, I’m Joseph. I love open source, am infected with wanderlust, and always ship software with love.