October 24th, 2011
Reading this neat guide to writing git commit messages, a random thought occurred to me which I hadn’t actually seen written down anywhere before…
I wonder how many guides to getting started in open source (whatever) include the single most important instruction I’ve ever come across, which applies to just about any action you can take in a F/OSS project?
#0: Look and see how other people do it
Want to learn to write a git commit message? Well, you can read Danni’s awesome post, but what did you do before it was there? Go find some git commit messages by established developers – ideally, the other contributors to the project you want to commit to – and see what they look like. Figure out the structure, and copy it.
This applies to _everything_. It’s almost always easier, and usually will give you a better result, to copy what everyone else does instead of trying to figure it out from first principles. Don’t stand out from the crowd! Don’t innovate! Don’t think outside the box! Don’t blaze your own trail! Copy shamelessly!
I exaggerate, of course, but remember, even the most incredible innovators are coming up with amazing new stuff 0.01% of the time, and writing git commit messages 99.99% of the time. And you really don’t want to invite an amazing new way of writing git commit messages every time you write one.