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GitHub Invites Developers to Contribute to the Open Source Guides

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GitHub has recently launched its Open Source Guides, a collection of resources addressing the most common scenarios and best practices for both contributors and maintainers of open source projects. The guides themselves are open source and GitHub is actively inviting developers to participate and share their stories.

According to GitHub, the main motivation for creating the Open Source Guides is helping individuals, communities, and companies to embrace open source.

Open source is complicated, especially for newcomers. Experienced contributors have learned many lessons about the best way to use, contribute to, and produce open source software. Everyone shouldn’t have to learn those lessons the hard way.

Making a successful first contribution is not the exclusive focus of the guides, though, which also strives to make it easier to find users for a project, starting a new project, and building healthy open source communities. Other topics the guides dwell on are best practices, getting financial support, metrics, and legal matters.

InfoQ spoke with Brandon Keepers, GitHub’s Head of Open Source, to learn more about GitHub Open Source Guides.

What were the main motivations that led to this project?

Developers on GitHub are learning better ways to create healthy projects, improve software workflows, on board new contributors, and build large communities. We’ve talked to so many open source maintainers who have had to learn these lessons the hard way, one project at a time. So we created the Open Source Guides to establish the equivalent of a water cooler for the community, where we can all share helpful tools or techniques, common challenges, best practices, and as we evolve our practices for building open source software, document it to pass on this knowledge to the next developer.

The guides are now open-source so anyone can contribute to it, but how were they created? What material did you review or base your effort on?

We set out to create the Guides as an open source project, and wanted to seed them with content that reflects the voice of the community and their years of wisdom and practice. The first set of guides were created and curated by GitHub, based on our own experience and discussions with hundreds of open source maintainers, and reviewed by community leaders.

How did the Open Source community react to GitHub’s Open Source Guides, in your view?

We had high hopes for the guides, and the initial response has exceeded our expectations. The Guides saw hundreds of thousands of page views in the first week, and they are already receiving significant contributions from the community.

As mentioned, the GitHub Open Source Guides are open to any contributors to propose changes. The first step in order to do so, as the contribution guide recites, is forking the repository and submit change proposals in form of pull requests from a dedicated branch.

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