You Do Not Need to Tell Me I Have A Typo in My Documentation

June 10, 2013
By

(This article was originally published at Yihui Xie, and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)

help me with Github pull requests

So I just got yet yet another comment saying "you have a typo in your documentation". While I do appreciate these kind reminders, I think it might be a good exercise for those who want to try GIT and Github pull requests, which make it possible for you to contribute to open source and fix obvious problems with no questions being asked -- just do it yourself, and send the changes to the original author(s) through Github.

The official documentation for Github pull requests is a little bit verbose for beginners. Basically what you need to do for simple tasks are:

  1. click the Fork button and clone the repository in your own account;
  2. make the changes in your cloned version;
  3. push to your repository;
  4. click the Pull Request button to send a request to the original author;

For trivial changes, sometimes I accept them on my cell phone while I'm still in bed. No extra communication is needed.

Occasionally I see reports of this kind of trivial documentation changes in the R-devel mailing list, and I believe that is just horribly inefficient. You could have done this quietly and quickly, and the developers could have merged the changes with a single mouse click. (Oh, okay, well, you know, SVN, mailing lists, ...)

For the knitr repository, it has two branches: master and gh-pages. The R package lives in the master branch, and the knitr website lives in the gh-pages branch. If you want to fix any problems in the website, just check out the gh-pages:

git checkout gh-pages

All pages were written in Markdown, so edit them with your favorite text editor. For example, as the above comment pointed out, I omitted a right parenthesis ) in _posts/2012-02-24-sweave.md, and you just add it, save the file, write a GIT commit message, push to your repository and send the pull request.

I know I can do this by myself in five seconds, and it takes me way more time to write this blog post, but I just want everybody to know how people with different skill levels can play their roles in software development.

Let's see how many minutes it takes for the pull request to come after I publish this blog post. Hurry!! :)



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