How to ruin an open source project: Let us count the ways

Healthy communication and collaboration are key to open source success


There are lots of ways to kill an open source project, and there's plenty of blame to go around. Both project maintainers and users are culpable, one GitHub official believes.

During a cautionary presentation Wednesday entitled "99 ways to kill an open source project," Brandon Keepers, who heads up open source efforts at GitHub, cited a myriad of ways things can go wrong because users or maintainers take the wrong steps. In Keepers' presentation at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) in Portland, Ore., he cited a list of how-tos for ruining an open source project.

Participants can do things such as avoid giving constructive feedback, which ruins maintainers' motivation, Keepers said. "We don't report errors, we run into problems and say, 'well it must have just been my problem, it's just my machine …. Somebody else will report it.'"

Participants also can ask lazy questions or not read the documentation. Then if maintainers do not respond to a user's issue quickly enough, users can spew hatred at them, Keeper said. "We forget the fact that [maintainers are] doing this in their free time and volunteering."

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