So you may have been hearing about OpenSauced’s 100 Days of Open Source challenge on X (Twitter) or from your friends in an online coding group. And maybe you want to join in but don’t know where to start.

Ooh, I know the feeling. When I first joined the open source community, I was so overwhelmed with the plethora of projects out there, as well as the expertise that all the other contributors seemed to have.

It felt like I was a small fish taking its first swim in the big ocean. But eventually, those feelings went away after discovering this:

In a purple oval, the phrase "good first issue" is written in light purple font and lowercase letters
The "Good first issue" label. I'd like to call this the guiding light of GitHub repos

Remember how Peter Pan told Wendy that the second star to the right will take her to Neverland? Well, this guide will show you how to harness the power of the good first issues label so you can end up in digital Neverland.

 Wendy and her brothers jump off the pointer of Big Ben and follow Peter to Neverland
Fly kiddies fly!

What is a Good First Issue?

Before you go to GitHub and plow through open source repositories for good first issues, let’s define what it is.

A good first issue is a label that GitHub-hosted open source projects use. It describes issues that are reserved for people who are new to open source in general or those who are new to a particular project.

Think of this label as the bat signal James Gordon often uses to let Batman know that help is needed in certain parts of Gotham City.

Batman is staring the at the bat signal, a white light with a bat symbol appearing.
The bat signal

Now, knowing what good first issue labels are is one thing, but finding them is another story.

How to Find Good First Issues on GitHub

If you already know the project that you want to contribute to, you can do the following:

First, click on the Issues tab:

In a screenshot of Codecademy's Docs repo in dark mode, an orange oval encompasses the Issues tab.
Screenshot showing the issues tab in GitHub's interface

Then click on the Label filter:

This screenshot shows the label filter dropdown menu
Screenshot showing the label filter displaying various labels

Now you can pick the good first issue label:

This screenshot shows the label "good first issue" being surrounded by a blue oval in the filter dropdown menu.
Screenshot showing the "good first issue" label

And there you go! Anything that the project has labeled "good first issue" will come up.

What if you don't have a project in mind?

If you’re not sure which repo you want to contribute to, there’s also awesome curated lists of open source projects that have raised good first issues on GitHub.

You can access it by going to the navigation bar and clicking on Explore:

In this screenshot, you see the Github navigation bar with the Explore column being circled by a blue oval.
Click on "explore" in the left navigation menu on GitHub

Then type “good first issues” in the search bar:

This screenshot zeros in on GitHub's search engine. There, you see the phrase "good first issues" in the textbox.
Searching for "good first issues"

Go to the Filter By section and click on Topics:

In a screenshot of the GitHub navigation bar, the Topics tab is circled. It also shows a list of repos that curate good first issues.
Filter by "Topics"

Now before you go and hunt for good first issues, there’s just one more piece of advice that I want to share with you.

How to Decide What Issues to Work on

As cliché as this sounds, sometimes the simplest thing is actually the hardest. There are some issues that have the good first issue label that are actually pretty difficult to solve once you've started working on them.

I remember when I first contributed to the MDN Web Docs, I had to add the <section> tag to certain parts of the docs. On the surface, it seemed pretty easy, but then I found that it took me a while to find the files that needed those tags.  

To avoid making the mistake I made, consider asking yourself the following questions before you pick a good first issue:

  1. Does this issue truly suit your interest(s)?
  2. Do you have the skills to solve the problem?
  3. Has it been assigned to someone else already?

By asking yourself these questions, you’ll be able to find a truly good first issue for you.


There you have it folks! Your guide to finding good first issues. 😊  Starting your open source journey can be very exciting and intimidating. But by searching for good first issues and critically analyzing them, you should have a great experience.

Now, go forth and fly! 😊

A male-presenting individual lifts their cat and sends it to space