Contributor Cheatsheet

A list of common resources when contributing to Kubernetes, tips, tricks, and common best practices used within the Kubernetes project. It is a “TL;DR” or quick reference of useful information to make your GitHub contribution experience better.

Kubernetes Contributor Cheat Sheet

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A list of common resources when contributing to Kubernetes, tips, tricks, and common best practices used within the Kubernetes project. It is a “TL;DR” or quick reference of useful information to make your GitHub contribution experience better.

Table of Contents

Helpful Resources

Getting Started

SIGs and Other Groups




  • Prow - Kubernetes CI/CD System.
  • Test Grid - View historical tests and their associated information.
  • Triage Dashboard - Aggregates similar failures together for better troubleshooting.

Important Email Aliases

Communicating Effectively on GitHub

How to be Excellent to Each Other

As a first step, familiarize yourself with the Code of Conduct.

Examples of Good/Bad Communication

When raising an issue, or seeking assistance, please be polite with your request:

🙂 “X doesn’t compile when I do Y, do you have any suggestions?”

😞 “X doesn’t work! Please fix it!”

When closing a PR, convey an explanatory and cordial message explaining why it does not meet the requirements to be merged.

🙂 “I’m closing this PR because this feature can’t support the use case X. In its proposed form, it would be better to implement with Y tool. Thank you for working on this.”

😞 “Why isn’t this following the API conventions? This should be done elsewhere!”

Submitting a Contribution

Signing the CLA

Before you can submit a contribution, you must sign the Contributor License Agreement(CLA). The Kubernetes project can only accept a contribution if you or your company have signed the CLA.

Should you encounter any problems signing the CLA, follow the CLA troubleshooting guidelines.

Opening and Responding to Issues

GitHub Issues are the primary means of tracking things such as bug reports, enhancement requests, or reporting other issues such as failing tests. They are not intended for user support requests. For those, please check with the troubleshooting guide, report the problem to Stack Overflow, or follow up on the Kubernetes forum.


Creating an Issue

  • Use an issue template if one is available. Using the correct one will aid other contributors in responding to your issue.
    • Follow any directions described in the issue template itself.
  • Be descriptive with the issue you are raising.
  • Assign appropriate labels. If you are unsure, the k8s-ci-robot bot (Kubernetes CI bot) will reply to your issue with the needed labels for it to be effectively triaged.
  • Be selective when assigning issues using /assign @<username> or /cc @<username>. Your issue will be triaged more effectively applying correct labels over assigning more people to the issue.

Responding to an Issue

  • When tackling an issue, comment on it letting others know you are working on it to avoid duplicate work.
  • When you have resolved something on your own at any future time, comment on the issue letting people know before closing it.
  • Include references to other PRs or issues (or any accessible materials), example: “ref: #1234”. It is useful to identify that related work has been addressed somewhere else.

Opening a Pull Request

Pull requests (PR) are the main means of contributing code, documentation or other forms of work that would be stored within a git repository.


Creating a Pull Request

  • Follow the directions of the pull request template if one is available. It will help those who respond to your PR.
  • If a trivial fix such as a broken link, typo, or grammar mistake, review the entire document for other potential mistakes. Do not open multiple PRs for small fixes in the same document.
  • Reference any issues related to your PR, or issues that PR may solve.
  • Avoid creating overly large changes in a single commit. Instead, break your PR into multiple small, logical commits. This makes it easier for your PR to be reviewed.
  • Comment on your own PR where you believe something may need further explanation.
  • Be selective when assigning your PR with /assign @<username>. Assigning excessive reviewers will not yield a quicker PR review.
  • If your PR is considered a “Work in progress” prefix the name with [WIP] or use the /hold command. This will prevent the PR from being merged till the [WIP] or hold is lifted.
  • If you have not had your PR reviewed, do not close and open a new PR with the same changes. Ping your reviewers in a comment with @<github username>.
  • If your PR isn’t getting enough attention, post a link to the PR in the #pr-reviews channel on Slack to find additional reviewers.

Example PR Description

Ref. #3064 #3097
All files owned by SIG testing were moved from `/devel` to the new folder `/devel/sig-testing`.

/sig contributor-experience
/cc @stakeholder1 @stakeholder2
/kind cleanup
/area developer-guide
/assign @approver1 @approver2 @approver3

What’s in that PR:

  • Line 1 - Reference to other issues or PRs (#3064 #3097).
  • Line 2 - A brief description of what is being done in the PR.
  • Line 4 - SIG assignment with the command /sig contributor-experience.
  • Line 5 - Reviewers that may have interest in this specific issue or PR are specified with the /cc command.
  • Line 6 - The /kind cleanup command adds a label that categorizes issues or PR as related to cleaning up code, process, or technical debt.
  • Line 7 - The /area developer-guide command categorizes issue or PR as related to the developer guide.
  • Line 8 - The command /assign assigns an approver to the PR. An approver will be suggested by the k8s-ci-robot and is selected from the list of owners in the OWNERS file. They will add the /approve label to the PR after it has been reviewed.

Troubleshooting a Pull Request

After your PR is proposed, a series of tests are executed by the Kubernetes CI platform, Prow. If any of the tests failed, the k8s-ci-robot will reply to the PR with links to the failed tests and available logs.

Pushing new commits to your PR will automatically trigger the tests to re-run.

Occasionally there can be issues with the Kubernetes CI platform. These can occur for a wide variety of reasons even if your contribution passes all local tests. You can trigger a re-run of the tests with the /retest command.

For more information on troubleshooting specific tests, see the Testing Guide.


Kubernetes uses labels to categorize and triage issues and Pull Requests. Applying the right labels will help your issue or PR be triaged more effectively.


Frequently used labels:

Working Locally

Before you propose a pull request, you will have to do some level of work locally. If you are new to git, the Atlassian git tutorial is a good starting point. As an alternative, Stanford’s Git magic tutorial is a good multi-language option.


Branch Strategy

The Kubernetes project uses a “Fork and Pull” workflow that is standard to GitHub. In git terms, your personal fork is referred to as the "origin" and the actual project’s git repository is called "upstream". To keep your personal branch (origin) up to date with the project (upstream), it must be configured within your local working copy.

Adding Upstream

Add upstream as a remote, and configure it so you cannot push to it.

# replace <upstream git repo> with the upstream repo URL
# example:

git remote add upstream <upstream git repo>
git remote set-url --push upstream no_push

This can be verified by running git remote -v which will list your configured remotes.

Keeping Your Fork in Sync

Fetch all the changes from upstream and “rebase” them on your local master branch. This will sync your local repo with the upstream project. Push the local changes to your remote master.

git fetch upstream
git checkout master
git rebase upstream/master
git push

You should do this minimally before creating a new branch to work on your feature or fix.

git checkout -b myfeature

Squashing Commits

The main purpose of squashing commits is to create a clean readable git history or log of the changes that were made. Usually, this is done in the last phase of a PR revision. If you are unsure if you should squash your commits, it is better to err on the side of having more and leave it up to the judgment of the other contributors assigned to review and approve your PR.

Perform an interactive rebase to choose which commits you want to keep and which you want to squash, then force push your branch:

git rebase -i HEAD~3
git push --force

Note: you can also use the bot to help squash commits, please see squashing commits for more details.