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Understanding an Open Source Project

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A README is the standard documentation file for open source projects. It should, at the very least, include the name of the repository and a description.

In a GitHub repository, this is typically where a visitor to the project should go first.


Markdown is a formatting language with lightweight syntax that allows you to style any text document so that it can be converted to HTML for viewing and publishing. Markdown files are saved with an .md extension.

It is frequently used in GitHub, StackOverflow, and other popular platforms.

The markdown example will turn into this list with bolded items:

  • Apple: Malus domestica
  • Banana: Musa acuminata
  • Cherry: Prunus cerasus
- **Apple**: Malus domestica
- **Banana**: Musa acuminata
- **Cherry**: Prunus cerasus


CommonMark standardized commonly implemented Markdown text behaviors across different platforms.

In an open source project, the LICENSE file contains information on how the project is licensed to the public. This file explains how the project can be used and distributed.

Some common license types are:

Code of Conduct

A code of conduct is a written set of rules and standards for the people who interact with an open source project.

This would live in a file called CODE_OF_CONDUCT.