Contributing to Read the Docs

Are you here to help on Read the Docs? Awesome! ❤️

Read the Docs, and all of it’s related projects, are all community maintained, open-source projects. We hope you feel welcome as you begin contributing to any of these projects. You’ll find that development is primarily supported by our core team members, who all work on Read the Docs full-time.

All members of our community are expected to follow our Code of Conduct. Please make sure you are welcoming and friendly in all of our spaces.

Get in touch

If you have a question or comment, we generally suggest the following communication channels:

  • Ask usage questions (“How do I?”) on StackOverflow.

  • Report bugs, suggest features, or view the source code on GitHub.

  • Discuss development topics on Gitter.


There are plenty of places to contribute to Read the Docs, but if you are just starting with contributions, we suggest focusing on the following areas:

Contributing to development

If you want to deep dive and help out with development on Read the Docs, then first get the project installed locally according to the installation guide. After that is done we suggest you have a look at tickets in our issue tracker that are labelled Good First Issue. These are meant to be a great way to get a smooth start and won’t put you in front of the most complex parts of the system.

If you are up to more challenging tasks with a bigger scope, then there are a set of tickets with a Feature or Improvement tag. These tickets have a general overview and description of the work required to finish. If you want to start somewhere, this would be a good place to start (make sure that the issue also have the Accepted label). That said, these aren’t necessarily the easiest tickets. They are simply things that are explained. If you still didn’t find something to work on, search for the Sprintable label. Those tickets are meant to be standalone and can be worked on ad-hoc.

You can read all of our Read the Docs developer documentation to understand more the development of Read the Docs. When contributing code, then please follow the standard Contribution Guidelines set forth at

Contributing to documentation

Documentation for Read the Docs itself is hosted by Read the Docs at (likely the website you are currently reading).

There are guidelines around writing and formatting documentation for the project. For full details, including how to build it, see Building and contributing to documentation.

Contributing to translations

We use Transifex to manage localization for all of our projects that we support localization on. If you are interested in contributing, we suggest joining a team on one of our projects on Transifex. From there, you can suggest translations, and can even be added as a reviewer, so you can correct and approve suggestions.

If you don’t see your language in our list of approved languages for any of our projects, feel free to suggest the language on Transifex to start the process.

Triaging issues

Everyone is encouraged to help improving, refining, verifying and prioritizing issues on Github. The Read the Docs core Read the Docs team uses the following guidelines for issue triage on all of our projects. These guidelines describe the issue lifecycle step-by-step.


You will need Triage permission on the project in order to do this. You can ask one of the members of the Read the Docs team to give you access.


Triaging helps identify problems and solutions and ultimately what issues that are ready to be worked on. The core Read the Docs team maintains a separate Roadmap of prioritized issues - issues will only end up on that Roadmap after they have been triaged.

Initial triage

When sitting down to do some triaging work, we start with the list of untriaged tickets. We consider all tickets that do not have a label as untriaged. The first step is to categorize the ticket into one of the following categories and either close the ticket or assign an appropriate label. The reported issue …

… is not valid

If you think the ticket is invalid comment why you think it is invalid, then close the ticket. Tickets might be invalid if they were already fixed in the past or it was decided that the proposed feature will not be implemented because it does not conform with the overall goal of Read the Docs. Also if you happen to know that the problem was already reported, reference the other ticket that is already addressing the problem and close the duplicate.


  • Builds fail when using matplotlib: If the described issue was already fixed, then explain and instruct to re-trigger the build.

  • Provide way to upload arbitrary HTML files: It was already decided that Read the Docs is not a dull hosting platform for HTML. So explain this and close the ticket.

… does not provide enough information

Add the label Needed: more information if the reported issue does not contain enough information to decide if it is valid or not and ask on the ticket for the required information to go forward. We will re-triage all tickets that have the label Needed: more information assigned. If the original reporter left new information we can try to re-categorize the ticket. If the reporter did not come back to provide more required information after a long enough time, we will close the ticket (this will be roughly about two weeks).


  • My builds stopped working. Please help! Ask for a link to the build log and for which project is affected.

… is a valid feature proposal

If the ticket contains a feature that aligns with the goals of Read the Docs, then add the label Feature. If the proposal seems valid but requires further discussion between core contributors because there might be different possibilities on how to implement the feature, then also add the label Needed: design decision.


  • Provide better integration with service XYZ

  • Achieve world domination (also needs the label Needed: design decision)

… is a small change to the source code

If the ticket is about code cleanup or small changes to existing features would likely have the Improvement label. The distinction for this label is that these issues have a lower priority than a Bug, and aren’t implementing new features.


  • Refactor namedtuples to dataclasess

  • Change font size for the project’s title

… is a valid problem within the code base:

If it’s a valid bug, then add the label Bug. Try to reference related issues if you come across any.


  • Builds fail if contains non-ascii letters

… is a currently valid problem with the infrastructure:

Users might report about web server downtimes or that builds are not triggered. If the ticket needs investigation on the servers, then add the label Operations.


  • Builds are not starting

… is a question and needs answering:

If the ticket contains a question about the Read the Docs platform or the code, then add the label Support.


  • My account was set inactive. Why?

  • How to use C modules with Sphinx autodoc?

  • Why are my builds failing?

… requires a one-time action on the server:

Tasks that require a one time action on the server should be assigned the two labels Support and Operations.


  • Please change my username

  • Please set me as owner of this abandoned project

After we finished the initial triaging of new tickets, no ticket should be left without a label.

Additional labels for categorization

Additionally to the labels already involved in the section above, we have a few more at hand to further categorize issues.

High Priority

If the issue is urgent, assign this label. In the best case also go forward to resolve the ticket yourself as soon as possible.

Good First Issue

This label marks tickets that are easy to get started with. The ticket should be ideal for beginners to dive into the code base. Better is if the fix for the issue only involves touching one part of the code.


Sprintable are all tickets that have the right amount of scope to be handled during a sprint. They are very focused and encapsulated.

For a full list of available labels and their meanings, see Overview of issue labels.