I am sure you might have seen this post doing the rounds recently, titled DigitalOcean’s Hacktoberfest is Hurting Open Source. Despite the spicy post title an exaggerated claim of Hacktoberfest being a corporate distributed denial of service attack, it does make some valid points about Hacktoberfest.
I don’t operate many popular repos and I’ve admittedly only seen one PR come through on one of my repos which was sort-of spammish, but not spammy to the point where it was low-quality, it was just a low hanging fruit pull request.
The spam and troubles for Hacktoberfest this year can be attributed to a YouTuber called CodeWithHarry who encouraged his 600k+ subscribers to spam repos to get a free shirt. While CodeWithHarry seems to have been the catalyst, Harry alone is not to blame for what is a flawed scheme.
While there is a lot of blame being directed at DigitalOcean, they are not the supervillain here. Just because a few bad apples decided to try and game the system, doesn’t mean Hacktoberfest itself should be cancelled. Many have been incentivised to contribute and as a result, will most likely continue to contribute after Hacktoberfest is finished.
I like Hacktoberfest from the perspective that it incentivises people to contribute to open source. For all of the spam it has caused, it still has resulted in some good. One of the popular ideas floated around was making Hacktoberfest opt-in and quite quickly, DigitalOcean has done that.
Going forward from October 3, 2020, repositories with the topic hacktoberfest will only be counted. Pull requests will also need to be merged, approved by a maintainer, or labelled as ‘hacktoberfest-accepted’ in order to qualify
Well, it turns out DigitalOcean has responded to the controversy in this announcement post. Not only did they implement a favourable solution, but they did it quite quickly and also issued an apology. I don’t think there was ever any ill intent on their side, people are just letting emotion dictate their response.