Lessons Learned from our Hacktoberfest Contributors


In this article, we share insights gained from meetings with five contributors to the Esri repositories during Hacktoberfest 2023. If you’ve never heard of it, Hacktoberfest is an annual global event that encourages developers to contribute to open source repositories. Our goal is to inspire and encourage your participation, whether in next year’s Hacktoberfest or at any other time of the year.

Meet the contributors

Let’s introduce the contributors and explore their motivations. For more details on their specific contributions, please refer to the contribution highlights.

Key takeaways

While the contributors all recognized several of the advantages we detailed in our initial article, let’s now focus on three primary takeaways we’ve derived from their experiences.

1. Anyone can participate, regardless of experience

Regardless of programming experience or GIS knowledge, all were able to contribute, enjoy, and benefit from the overall good experience. Each agreed that they would recommend participation to other developers and look forward to continuing contributing themselves. In fact, some have already made additional contributions since the Hacktoberfest event.

2. Expect to learn something new in the process

Despite facing some challenges, each contributor overcame them and learned something new. This sentiment is encapsulated by Al-Ekram’s statement:

“It doesn’t matter how much you know; you will always learn from open source.”

Overall, each contributor gave positive feedback, with highlights and thanks given to the repository maintainers for their support in overcoming any challenges.

3. Participating can lead to increased career opportunities

While physical rewards like t-shirts, stickers, and other forms of swag are generally appreciated, we observed a more significant benefit among our contributors. Considering most of our contributors were entry-level developers, they were most eager to gain the knowledge and experience that comes with contributing to real-world projects over any other reward or prize. They valued the accessibility of Esri employees, mentorship, and public recognition of their contributions (1) (2) (3). This experience, we believe, will bolster their resumes and aid in their future job searches.


Remember, numerous projects are open to contributions throughout the year, not just during the month of October. But even if you lack the time or energy now, consider setting a reminder for mid-September to join Hacktoberfest 2024!

About the authors

Courtney Yatteau is a developer advocate on the Developer Experience team. She is responsible for outreach and awareness related to Esri's developer SDKs and APIs. Before Esri, Courtney worked in the secondary education field, teaching computer science and mathematics.


Developer on the Developer Experience (DX) team, looking for ways to improve the DX through better educational resources, developer tools, and community support among other things.

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