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Why You Should Open-Source Your Startup

When we open-sourced everything a month ago, we were nervous. What if no one contributes?, we worried. We had spent a week writing documentation, automating the developer setup, filing easy issues, paring down the repository, and preparing licenses. We wanted to demonstrate that open source should be the default choice for many startups and games, but if we failed, then we would have done the opposite.

We needn't have worried. The CodeCombat Archmages swarmed the GitHub gates, breached the dev setup bug barricade, and presented a plethora of pull requests. Here are the first month stats:

"Okay, sure, that's a lot of contributors, but are they really helping? Those pull requests are probably tiny changes like centering some div. I bet the CodeCombat team is still doing almost all the real work and the open source thing is just for show."

Not convinced by a list of numbers? Good; I wouldn't be, either. Let's dig in and see how much the Archmages have really contributed. Here are the top five open source contributors with links to their commits:

CodeCombat in Y Combinator

On nickwinter.net

Originally posted on the CodeCombat blog.

What a crazy weekend! We launched our beta on Friday morning by posting to a few subreddits hoping to pick up a few more interested users who could play through our levels as we started to release new ones with the level editor we just finished. But we were not prepared for how many people would come check it out. We stayed #1 on all three subreddits for over a day, amassing 1466 points, 384 comments, and far too many players for our real-time multiplayer server to handle (forcing us to shut off the multiplayer and all server code synchronization). And that’s all before we were crushed the next day by what appeared to our beleaguered Scott as all of Brazil, or at least every Brazilian on Facebook. (Olá!)

With all the chaos trying to keep the server up and the bugs down, we slept little and prepared for the next day’s Startup School even less. We had been tapped for on-stage Y Combinator office hours with Paul Graham and Sam Altman. We watched a video of previous on-stage YC office hours and concluded that “office hours” really meant “eight minutes of two of the smartest startup guys in the world demolishing your idea in front of 1700 entrepreneurs and a live video stream”.

Fortunately for us, they liked our startup and were much nicer than we expected. In fact, as we were walking off stage thinking, “Hey, that went well—maybe we’ll get an interview!”—then Paul whispered something to Sam, who nodded, and they called us back.

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