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Do open source stuff on the internet, get free stuff.
It's not a month long beer festival, I first thought it was, but no 😒. It is a month long festival of code organized by DigitalOcean where you participate by simply opening a pull request and contributing to any open source project. All backgrounds and skill levels are encouraged to complete the challenge. In every year, you're given instructions in how to complete the challenge, last year, it was to submit at least four pull requests to any public repository on Github and you're done. Last year, the first 50 000 contributors received limited edition T-shirts and a bunch of cool stickers. This year though, the first 75 000 participants can earn a T-shirt.
"I've never contributed to open source before, I don't even know where to start"
Have I got news for you. That alone makes you the perfect participant all on its own. Many people believe that contributing to open source means writing super complex code and/or fixing issues the author of the project could have never figured out. Which, in so many lengths, is not true.
To put this simply, with a quick example. One of the pull requests I submitted for the 2019 hacktoberfest challenge was editing a README for just explaining steps to setup firebase on an android app. Just that one page, and I had contributed to open source, 3 more similar pull requests sent out and I had completed the challenge thus receiving my 2019 hacktoberfest swag.
A trick to get contributors on board by project maintainers is that they label some github issues with 'hacktoberfest', especially during these times of the festival which makes it very easy to filter down to repositories who are looking for help or looking to help you contribute. Other labels to look out for are 'good first issue' and 'beginner' which imply that you do not need to be an expert or super skilled and even versed on a certain project to take a jab in solving that issue.
Sometimes it's the people who are close to you who could also use a helping hand with their projects. You might be also working in a company or a team that maintains some open source repositories, that's your chance to also deal with some minor typos in their documentation here and there, adding some tests or just organizing their file structure for easier consumption.
Tools like http://issuehub.io/ https://gauger.io/contrib and https://www.codetriage.com/ make it so easy to scan through the many projects out there to tackle. I personally like http://issuehub.io/ because it's pretty intuitive and I think it's the one I've been using even way after the festival had passed
For more detailed information (because I'm writing this out of excitement) please see https://hacktoberfest.digitalocean.com for more details.