Your First GitHub Contribution

Mikołaj Sykuła
Mikołaj Sykuła
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Feb 9, 2024
Your First GitHub Contribution

Contributing to open source projects is a rewarding journey that not only enhances your coding skills but also enriches the global developer community. In this detailed guide, we'll explore what contributions entail, their value, how to find projects in need of help, and the steps to make your contribution meaningful.

What is a Contribution?

In the context of open source, a contribution is any input that helps improve a project. This can range from submitting code, fixing bugs, improving documentation, designing graphics, to even participating in project discussions. Contributions are the lifeblood of open source projects, allowing them to grow and evolve over time.

Why Contribute?

Skill Enhancement

Contributing to open source projects exposes you to real-world coding challenges, allowing you to hone your programming skills. It's an opportunity to work with experienced developers from around the globe, learn new technologies, and understand best practices in software development.

Community and Networking

The open source community is vast and welcoming. By contributing, you become part of a community that values collaboration and innovation. Networking within this community can lead to job opportunities, mentorships, and collaborations on future projects.

Professional Growth

Having open source contributions in your portfolio showcases your skills and dedication to potential employers. It demonstrates your ability to collaborate on projects, solve complex problems, and contribute to the tech community.

Personal Satisfaction

There's a deep sense of satisfaction in knowing that your work is being used by people worldwide. Contributing to open source can also be a way to support tools or projects you love and rely on.

Finding a Project to Contribute To

Explore GitHub

GitHub is the largest host of source code in the world. Start by exploring trending repositories, checking out projects you use and love, or using GitHub's “Explore” feature to find projects that match your interests.

Look for 'Good First Issue' Labels

Many projects use labels like good first issue or help wanted to indicate tasks suitable for newcomers. These issues can provide a gentle introduction to the project's codebase.

Contribute to What You Use

Consider contributing to libraries or frameworks you use regularly. Familiarity with the project can make it easier to identify bugs or areas for improvement.

How to Make Your Contribution

Understand the Project's Contribution Guidelines

Most projects have a CONTRIBUTING.md file or a section in their README.md with guidelines on how to contribute. Read these instructions carefully to understand the process and expectations.

Set Up Your Development Environment

Fork and clone the repository to your local machine and follow the project's setup instructions. Ensure you can build the project and run tests before making changes.

Pick an Issue and Communicate

Choose an issue to work on and notify the project maintainers that you're interested in working on it. This prevents duplicate efforts and allows maintainers to provide guidance.

Make Your Changes and Write Tests

Implement your solution in a clean, well-documented manner. Write tests to cover your changes, ensuring that your contribution doesn't introduce new bugs.

Submit a Pull Request (PR)

Once you're satisfied with your changes, push your branch to GitHub and open a pull request. Provide a clear description of the problem and how your changes address it. Engage in the review process, responding to feedback and making adjustments as necessary.

Celebrate Your Contribution!

Regardless of the outcome, submitting a pull request is an achievement. Celebrate your contribution to the open source world!


Contributing to open source is a pathway to learning, growth, and collaboration. It's about more than just code; it's a way to give back, challenge yourself, and connect with like-minded individuals. Start small, stay persistent, and watch as your contributions make a difference in the open source ecosystem.

Happy contributing!

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