Retaining your new Hacktoberfest contributors

POV of a man's hand being pulled down a rocky path by a woman

Hacktoberfest is over and hopefully you had a bunch of new contributors to your project. So now how do you keep them around? The first step is to understand that many of them won’t stay. They made “drive-by” contributions so that they could complete the challenge and that’s okay. But some will stick around, if you can make them want to.

Hopefully, you’ve laid the ground work already by giving them constructive and timely feedback on their contributions. You’ve thanked them for their work. Maybe you’ve sent them some stickers; developers love stickers. However you’ve done it, you’ve shown your appreciation.

Now you have to show them that they belong in your project. Just because your project meetings, mailing lists, etc, are public, that doesn’t mean people will feel like they belong. Explicitly invite the contributors who you want to keep beyond October.

Mentor the contributors you want to retain. Guide them toward work in the overlap of what the project needs and their interests. Spend the time to help them learn their way around your project’s processes and practices. Open source projects are made of people, and you need to make the connection to keep them around. If people feel like members of your project, they will contribute.

This post’s featured photo by Christopher Alvarenga on Unsplash.

Ben formerly led open source messaging at Docker and was the Fedora Program Manager. He is the author of Program Management for Open Source Projects. Ben is an Open Organization Ambassador and frequent conference speaker. His personal website is Funnel Fiasco.


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