The thoughts, opinions and sometimes the rants of Mark Evans

Love Thy Project

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I’ve been planning to write again for a while but things such as “life” have gotten in the way, today however I decided to stop finding reasons to avoid writing and actually sit down and write about something which has been bothering me for a while.

Being part of an open-source project can invoke a wide range of emotions, from feeling proud you are creating something cool for others to benefit from, to the deep despair of trying to get a release ready whilst your family/friends compete for your attention.

A majority of people in the community are pretty understanding about the dedication you bring to a project and understand when you don’t provide firm commitments on when something will be ready (a.k.a “it will be ready when its ready”), there are however a minority of people who think that you “suck” and have no idea how an open-source project should be run.

See Exhibit A:

I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve read comments similar to the following

  • Version X is dead, no-one cares anymore
  • You suck because you don’t know when version X will be ready
  • You should stop wasting your time, project X is doing it better

From the posters perspective some or all of the above maybe true, however from the projects perspective some or all of these statements maybe false, there are most likely people who do care about version X and who prefer that a release is done right rather than done quickly.

Enter the conundrum of what vocal users want vs what the project/silent users want.

Finding the right balance is never easy for a project, there is no magic formula to follow so that they get it right every time, all a project can can do is follow what it believes is the right course of action and hope the community agrees and follows.

This can sometimes be misinterpreted as the project not listening or ignoring feedback, but rest assured that for most projects all constructive feedback is noticed and used to help formulate decisions even if a project doesn’t reply to every single post you make.

Posting comments like

  • Don’t bother your comment will likely be ignored
  • The project team don’t care so why even bother
  • I wonder if the team will even bother to read this

Is a real simple way of making all of your points however valid irrelevant and easily _forgettable. _

So when giving feedback to a project, remember they are run by people, powered by motivation, so make sure to keep it on topic, detached from emotion and constructive, and the rest assured it will be heard.

So, to sum up the theme of this post in as few words as possible.

You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist. – Friedrich Nietzsche