There’s no secret that I really enjoy Hacktoberfest. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see that the entire month of October is nearly reserved for talking about Hacktoberfest.

This year marks my third year participating in Hacktoberfest and it is something I am very proud of. Because of this event, I’ve started teaching myself Python, R, and started dabbling in Ruby. I entirely have this holiday to thank for giving me the kick that I need to learn how to code and I am very thankful to every company and individual that has to still brave through my contributions and pull requests.

Last year marked the introduction of a little project I called the Hacktoberfest Swag List. Once I realized that Microsoft and SendGrid were offering their own t-shirts and stickers to people who helped out in their own GitHub repos, I made a very simple public list so I could keep track of it all and asked for others to contribute.

My goal shifted from simply providing me with a list of swag to providing everyone with a list, particularly targeted at people new to coding who wanted to feel a sense of accomplishment for helping companies they know and use.

To accomplish this goal, I experimented with turning the list into a GitHub Pages site powered by Jekyll. That then lead to me learning how to use Netlify to host a website, how to setup Jekyll as a static site generator locally, learning how to better my Markdown coding with CodeClimate, what the heck an IDE is and how to use something like Codeanywhere to help me make my code better, how to configure webhooks, and how to be a manager in charge of a public project that people relied upon.

I’ve learned a great deal and I entirely have Hacktoberfest to thank.

My goal for the Hacktoberfest Swag List to be as simple as can be. There are only 2 files for people to edit and if you can contribute right from GitHub without installing any software of your own. I wanted for the list to remain absolutely minimal with the website as small and simple as can be. That way, no matter where you are in the world and how terrible your connection to the internet may be, you’ll have the chance to load up a site and learn about companies that support you in making the open-source world a better place.

Can you correct spelling and English grammar for a company looking to broaden its user base? Wonderful! Have a cool sticker to show off your contributions! Can you add a new feature to an existing project? Also wonderful! Have a shirt to wear around with pride!

I do not intend to flood companies offering swag with poor contributions. Rather, I want to be someone who can empower those to contribute what they do know and have ownership of some physical item that acknowledges how much their contributions matter to the world.

Those who know me see that I wear my shirts from Hacktoberfest proudly. Seriously, at this point, all of the t-shirts that I wear are swag from tech companies…I’ve even explained to my grandmother what SendGrid is when she complimented me on my “cool purple flower shirt”.

So, for this year, I intend to continue doing what I can to promote the Hacktoberfest Swag List and help new people get into contributing to open-source code. I also selfishly will use this time to better myself and continue to learn and grow as an individual.

To those participating in Hacktoberfest for the first time, welcome! To those who are veterans, spread the word! Register for the official event, read about how to participate, and be proud of the work you do to make the world a better place.