'Working Open' Project Guide


Mechanics of Contributing


  • GitHub repositories come with an issue tracker
  • Issues communicate specific needs or questions to contributors
  • How to create an issue
  • When should you create an issue

Tease out tasks in your issue tracker to help others understand where they can get involved and what's being worked on. Issues communicate specific needs or questions to contributors. Take time to document tasks, features, bugs, or questions in the issue tracker to let others know how they can help. This is often the main forum for public discussion on a project.

Version Control

  • commits
  • branches

Pull Requests

Opening a Pull Request

  • as soon as you've made a change, you can open a pull request


  • generally, pull requests are reviewed before they are merged in

Merge a Pull Request



Jumping into a new project can be hard and intimidating. Lower the friction to join in by having contributor guidelines (usually in a CONTRIBUTING.md file, linked from the README). This document will help others understand the way your community works and how you interact with each other.

Good questions to address in contributor guidelines:

  • How do I report a bug?
  • How do I set up my development environment?
  • How do I submit changes to the code base?
  • Where can I ask for help? - make sure you point users to an IRC channel / forum / email address that will be responsive and welcoming to newcomers.