A List of Beginner-Friendly Open Source Projects

Last night, I presented at the Women Who Code NYC “Open Source Workshop“.  It was very much a learning experience for me, and I hope to share more thoughts later.  In the meantime, here’s a (work-in-progress) list of some beginner-friendly open source projects:

If you know of more, feel free to leave them in the comments, and I’ll add any that seem like a great fit!

3 thoughts on “A List of Beginner-Friendly Open Source Projects

    1. Heya – thanks for the link! Here’s some suggestions (that I’d be happy to submit Pull Requests for some of these when I have the time)!

      1. I would make Fork The Repo into a link pointing here: https://help.github.com/articles/fork-a-repo/
      2. Include “If you’re new to Git, Start Here
      3. Have a “New Contributor Tasks” or something similar (See Drupal for an example)
      4. Have a section for Easy Tasks. Also, tag issues as ‘first-timers-only’ or ‘first-timers’ if they’d be a good fit for newer open source contributors
      5. “Before committing a PR, try squashing the commits” – make squashing into a link to a tutorial (I haven’t found a good one yet/am still a bit iffy on the topic)
      6. Link explicitly to the docs you want them to use (I know it’s in the readme, but still better to be explicit here as well)
      7. Do you want people to open an Issue first? or is it fine for them to just send in a PR? I’d encourage you to state this explicitly. Even if the statement is “Use your judgement” or “Open an issue for things that aren’t docs”

      Otherwise, add an explicit mention of your Forums & IRC Channel in your Readme and/or contributing.rst
      Also – either in the “New Contributors” section or in the docs, consider providing some kind of a breakdown of the codebase – like a points of interest. You could even just give a quick explanation of the folders, or list a few files as Starting Points. They might seem obvious, but doing this will reduce the “Deer in Headlights” sensation for newcomers, and make people more likely to contribute


      1. Thanks for the great feedback and reminder that new contributor friendly project is more than “PRs welcomed” text in the readme. Especially New Contributor Tasks for Drupal is great example that I wasn’t aware of.


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