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Newbie question The etiquette of forking a plugin and table tag

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Newbie question

Forgive this non technical and novice question.

What's the best practice when forking a plugin?

I'm a WordPress Development newbie, I've managed to fork a plugin which had not been updated for four years though I think the developers are still active on wordpress.org. What's the protocol? Do I just post in their support forum? Is there a better way of contacting them.

I think ideally I'd have contacted them first, but as it was pretty much my first project I had no idea that I was going to be able to complete the task but as it is I now think I'm ready to submit it to the directory.

Also, one this I'm a bit unsure of is the stable tag. I mean I've tested it extensively on one test system and it's now loaded onto a live system running about 100 plugins without error, does that make it stable and if so to what level?

Thanks for reading.