rOpenSci | Hacktober? Any Month is a Good Month to Contribute to rOpenSci

Hacktober? Any Month is a Good Month to Contribute to rOpenSci

The title of this post refers to Hacktoberfest, a month-long event organized annually by Digital Ocean to encourage contributions to open source projects on GitHub. Unfortunately, this October, many maintainers are dealing with spam pull requests. So instead of issuing a general appeal to participate, we’re pointing you to our new Community Contributing Guide’s section dedicated to our open Issues List. Along with showing you how to find help wanted issues in rOpenSci packages, it provides suggestions on etiquette to maximize the chances that your effort will be appreciated by a maintainer.

In 2019, 117 people made their first-ever GitHub commit to rOpenSci. We are excited to welcome code and non-code contributions from new and more seasoned coders at any career stage, and in any sector.

🔗 For package authors

  • Make your project collaboration friendly by including a code of conduct and a brief contributing guide that tells people how you would like them to interact with your project.
  • Label your issues so people interested in contributing can find them. We recommend help wanted (no hyphen), and where appropriate good first issue, documentation.
  • Include future plans for your package in the README and open issues to address aspects of your plan.

🔗 For potential contributors

Many of our packages are developed by people working in research environments where software development is a voluntary, side project. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get an immediate response. It will depend on the popularity of a package and whether maintaining it is part of a person’s “day job”.

  • Address a “Help wanted” issue. Take a look at the Issues List. If you see one that interests you, take a look at the project’s contributing guide, then comment in the issue to discuss your approach with the maintainer. Once your proposed plan is accepted, reate a pull request and submit your solution.
  • Address any open issue. The majority of issues are not labeled “help wanted” but that doesn’t mean the author wouldn’t appreciate your help. Browse the issues in a package you use and see if there’s one you could address. This is a great way to get your favorite packages work the way you want them to!

🔗 Advice from maintainers in the rOpenSci community

Our Community Call on Maintaining an R Package was a panel discussion with maintainers of both very popular and niche packages talking in part about how they handle contributions. The summary post, by Janani Ravi and Steffi LaZerte, is a goldmine of links to specific segments of the video and collaborative notes on responses to questions like:

  • How do you manage issues and feature requests? What workflows do you use to do this?
  • What is a path for new contributors to R packages? How can healthy norms be passed on?
  • If I want to start with fixing an issue or contributing to a well-documented package, what are essential parts I should know?

🔗 January to December

Any month is a good month to contribute to rOpenSci! Find out where your personal motivations to contribute align with our mission and our community values, and choose your path through the rOpenSci Community Contributing Guide.