We need more open-source love

The news that Tim Wood, maintainer of popular JavaScript library Moment.js, was stepping away from the project was a wake-up call for the open-source community. His reasons, although super easy to understand and relate to, are not discussed often enough.

Seeing bugs and issues continue to roll in and being mentally unable to address them has led to feelings of failure and depression. When looking at the moment project, I could only see the negatives. The bugs and misnomers and mistakes I had made. It let to a cycle of being too depressed to contribute, which led to being depressed because I wasn’t contributing.

Many developers came forward to speak about the issue, like Dave DeSandro, the man behind projects like Isotope and Flickity.

I completely relate to this. On a much smaller scale, I’ve dedicated huge amounts of my personal time to projects like include-media and Staticman, and yet the vast majority of feedback I ever get from anyone are bug reports or feature requests (luckily, I never had to deal with this level of harshness).

Instead of only coming across the negative comments, I would love to hear from people that use these projects successfully and to learn about how they helped make their jobs and lives a tiny bit easier. Their experiences would certainly teach me a lot about my own projects and the positive feedback would be a huge motivation boost to help me keep going.

Even something as simple as “I’m using this project on this site” means a lot. Sure, the number of stars on a GitHub repository is an indication that people are using and loving what you’ve done, but at the same time it’s very impersonal. I always feel that putting a name and a face to a positive review of something you’ve done is infinitely more rewarding than any number on a badge.

A compendium of love (cheesy?)

I thought it’d be cool to create a compendium of positive feedback about open-source projects. Sort of the opposite of GitHub issues, it would be a website where open-source projects could have their own page with user-generated comments, or simply links to places where the project is being used.

To project maintainers, this would be a way of collecting useful feedback. On the other hand, the general user could see how other people are using and benefiting from a certain project, potentially helping them make a decision about using it or not.

What are your thoughts? Does anything like this exist already? If not, shall we build it? ∎



Thursday, September 22nd, 2016, 10.35pm

I completely agree on this one. I do usually thank people for their projects, usually on Twitter. I appreciate the effort which is required to maintain them. But, let’s defend the user here. If he or she reports bugs and requests features, we should conclude he or she likes the project, right?

Andre Vidic

Friday, September 23rd, 2016, 01.59am

I like the positive feedback idea and I believe an implementation in some way should occur.

For me, open source is about sharing. Sharing to improve/learn, sharing development burden, sharing the rewards - access to great code. When most individuals are only users then the sharing to use balance is skewed. Open source can only exist if sharing occurs and individuals volunteer their time. Obvious, yes.

I believe many more people want to contribute. They might not know how or might not understand that even a small contribution goes a long way. And from my perspective, an easy contribution, and a great way to get started, might not even need to be a code contribution but a text or verbal gratitude. Surely this will encourage more people to contribute and support those who already are. It could also be an early warning sign that support for a project is waning.

Stars are a great sign of the number of users expressing interest over time but people do not really unstar when they stop using a project. So stars do not provide the current instantaneous trend. And like you suggest, I agree that a thank you or I love and use ‘feature X’, from your opensource contribution, will be a great insight. It could direct where efforts can be prioritised to. I think it would also help guide the future direction of an opensource project.

After all a text or verbal gratitude is a negligible cost but leaves a profound positive impact. Who knows where this positive impact will take us…

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