The state of open source contribution through the lens of Hacktoberfest

This yearly hackfest offers lessons that point toward a bright future for open source.
84 readers like this.
Puzzle pieces coming together to form a computer screen

In 2019, DigitalOcean and the open source community celebrated the sixth annual Hacktoberfest, an inclusive community event that inspires open source participation and maintenance. It was an exciting year with record-breaking numbers of pull requests, participants, and events around the world. From the start, our goal has always been to encourage all types of people, from seasoned developers to total newcomers, to get more involved with open source, all while promoting DigitalOcean's longstanding values of simplicity, community, and love.

We recapped Hacktoberfest 2019 on our blog, but in honor of the 22nd anniversary of open source, we decided to dive into the results of our annual participant survey within the context of our seasonal Currents report on the state of open source. This year, we revamped the Hacktoberfest survey to better understand what it means to the community, as well as their involvement with open source projects, key motivators for participating, and more. So how did the community do? Here are some findings.

Our growing community

This year, 41% of participants said they were aware of open source prior to Hacktoberfest but had never contributed to an open source project before.

Prior involvement in open source

We are thrilled to see so many first-time contributors taking this opportunity to get involved and believe this is an essential part of building an accessible open source community. When it comes to the reasons participants got involved with Hacktoberfest, more than three-quarters (78%) said they were motivated by a desire to learn more, and nearly half (46%) said they attended to have fun.

These two top motivators align with findings from our latest seasonal Currents report on the state of open source: 60% of Currents respondents cited the desire to learn new skills and enjoyment as their top reasons for contributing to open source projects. This highlights how Hacktoberfest creates opportunities for participants to lead the growth of the open source movement while strengthening the community at large.

Building the inclusive future of open source

Because 46% of participants heard about Hacktoberfest from a friend or colleague, we credit much of our growth to word of mouth and the benefits of a self-sustaining community.

How participants heard about Hacktoberfest

We are also inspired by the mix of students and software developers around the world who participate each year. While a majority of this year's Hacktoberfest contributors are working software developers (53%), 50% are students looking to improve their skills. In light of the two-thirds of Currents respondents who are concerned about the sustainability of open source (citing lack of funding and support from large corporations as obstacles), we're optimistic that student-friendly initiatives like Hacktoberfest will play a major role in creating new community leaders who will help shape the direction of open source.

The Currents report saw overall open source participation increase by 8% from last year but also revealed challenges around representation and inclusion of developers from all walks of life. According to the report, only one-third of individuals who identify as women rate the diversity of the open source community highly. In the Hacktoberfest community, we have benefited tremendously from the influx of diverse perspectives, and we are committed to encouraging people of all backgrounds to participate as we expand the program in 2020 and beyond. By continuing partnerships with organizations to engage groups typically underrepresented in technology, we see a huge opportunity to lead the industry in this direction.

We look forward to continuing this mission with the community that makes it all possible. Thanks to all the community readers who participated, and we look forward to the next year together!

What to read next
User profile image.
Senior Manager, Community Partnerships at DigitalOcean

1 Comment

I am looking forward to Hacktoberfest 2020. Hopefully I am able to attend it this time around, fingers crossed.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.