How Hacktoberfest 2020 ruined the open source UX Writing contributors

Posted on Oct 26, 2020


Every October, Digital Ocean and GitHub give out free swags to people in return for their contributions to open source. This motivated a lot of first-time contributors. A simple and noble idea.

But this year, a lot of people started making changes to the code which serves no purpose but to get the free t-shirt. For example, adding a space that wasn’t fixing a typo or incorrect grammar.

So, when project maintainers saw my changes along with the other so-called fixes they believed I was spamming them. I cannot blame the project maintainers. They are receiving hundreds of such useless requests.

I had to explain and convince them by referring to my past contributions.

One such instance is when I noticed an inconsistent use of ‘Log in’ at different places. So, I changed it all to “Log in.” The next day, I was called a spammer.

Another instance is where I removed the word “successfully” from snack bar messages to reduce tautology. Again, I was called a spammer.

If a seasoned contributor like me can have a hard time then I cannot comprehend what first-time contributors would or had to go through.

UX Writers are not coders. When I made my first contribution, it was overwhelming. But I was fortunate enough to have developer friends who helped me through it. But first-time contributors may not be lucky.

They may not understand how GitHub works. With all these spammers nobody has time to help them.

What started as a noble idea has now reduced to freebie hoarding and spamming event.