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First Timers Only

Friendly Open Source projects should reserve specific issues for newbies.

Welcome! Let’s do some open source!

Contributing to open source for the first time can be scary and a little overwhelming. Perhaps you’re a Code Newbie or maybe you’ve been coding for a while but haven’t found a project you felt comfortable contributing to.

You can do it! Here’s how.

If you have never contributed to an open source project before and you’re just getting started, consider exploring these resources.

Yes, it’s scary. But SO rewarding!

We asked folks on Twitter what they felt like when they made their first contribution to an open source project. Here’s just a few of their tweets.

Some had great experiences:

Some had bad experiences. The purpose of first-timers-only is to help everyone have an empowering and welcoming first experience as they enter the world of Open Source Software (OSS)!

Are you an OSS Project Owner?

If you are an OSS project owner, then consider marking a few open issues with the label first-timers-only. The first-timers-only label explicitly announces:

I’m willing to hold your hand so you can make your first PR. This issue is rather a bit easier than normal. And anyone who’s already contributed to open source isn’t allowed to touch this one!

First timer contributions are normally very small and easy (One recent first-timers-only issue was literally three lines of simple changes! And the changes were described in great detail and tested by the project maintainer). But this makes it easier for the contributor to get the hang of the contribution process rather than the contribution itself. Remember, this isn’t as much about getting your project features implemented quickly as it is about helping first timers.

Why is YAL (yet another label) like first-timers-only important? Because it makes a statement that first timers are welcome, that they are valued, and that they can start on your project! Often the hard part of getting into open source for the first time isn’t the implementation of a feature, but figuring out how to actually contribute code such that the pull request is accepted! But, oh the feeling of accomplishment when your first PR is merged!

Go label an issue or two with first-timers-only and advertise that those issues exist! Walk a newbie a week (or a month) through the process! Document the process, blog and tweet about it and encourage those first timers to do the same! And add this badge to your repo’s README:


Kent C. Dodds proposed First Timers Only to get new people to make their first contribution. Scott Hanselman blogged about Bringing Kindness Back to Open Source, so it was obvious that we team up and promote these ideas and get more folks involved in open source.

Charlotte Spencer created a great twitter account called @yourfirstpr that exists to showcase great issues that a newbie can solve in order to create “Your First PullRequest!” We recommend you follow @yourfirstpr and let them know if your OSS project has a firsttimers only tag and you have open issues that you’ll reserve for a new contributor!

Utkarsh Upadhyay created a bot called @first_tmrs_only which tweets when a new first-timers-only issue is posted on GitHub. Follow it to stay abreast with latest first-timers-only issues!

Empower a First Timer today!

We believe - and we hope you do too - that learning how to code, how to think, and how to contribute to open source can empower the next generation of coders and creators. We VALUE first time contributors and we want them to know that everyone started somewhere! Start here!