One of the barriers to convert users into contributors in an open-source projects is that many people have no idea where to start. They are usually scared to take on large tasks because they are not comfortable enough with the code-base. Yet I think there are ways you can help them as a project maintainer.
One good way that I found to fix this is to tag specific issues that are a good starting point for new contributors. However I think the practice would be even more effective if more projects did the same way, so that people know to look for it.
The way I do it is using a custom Easy Pick label to indicate issues on GitHub that are just that. Easy to pick up tasks, either because they are small in scope, or just don’t involve much in-depth knowledge of the project.
The result of this is a much clearer view of issues. On the Composer project for example if you go in the issues tab and then filter by “Easy Pick”, you end up with 14 issues listed instead of 170. A much more manageable amount to look at and pick from, and you are empowered by the knowledge that those should all be reasonably easy to work out.
I have also created this label in the Symfony2 issues a while back. As you see both use the same wording and the same yellow that’s one of the default colors on GitHub.
I would love to see this spread because I have already seen it bring in a few new contributors. So if you feel like encouraging people to join in on your project give it a try. And if you feel like giving back this week-end, browse the issues of the projects you use and enjoy. See if you find anything you can help them with.