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Discussion on: Do you actually want your own open source project?

darkain profile image
Vincent Milum Jr

I think all of these points are not about open source projects at all. Instead, they are only about POPULAR projects, because even closed source projects suffer from these issues. And lesser known open source projects don't suffer from these issues. I have 70+ open source projects I manage across two GitHub accounts currently, but they've mostly been small utilities I've built for myself over the past 20-ish years. I just released a bunch of things open source for 1) historical preservation, and 2) in the off chance someone else may need the same niche utility. But these are not flooded with constant messages, instead sitting almost entirely idle.

Maintaining open source projects for me has actually been very fun and rewarding. I made a deal at my last job that our internal code while under development would be split into "library" (universal code) and "application" (specific to the business). The library is open source, application is closed. Doing this, I've been able to use the library in several personal projects and push it in newer, better directions that have in turn helped out the business overall too.

phlash profile image
Phil Ashby

Similar experience here, 20 odd bits & pieces that a few people have liked and maybe use themselves - no PRs yet :)

At work we're looking to run an 'inner source' mechanism, now that everyone is finally using Git (last projects to stop using Visual Source Safe and CVS were last year), we have some chance. We've not yet picked our private community tooling, probably a Gitlab instance for folks to push shared content into, or indeed public Github for real OSS.

coreyja profile image
Corey Alexander

Ya this more matches my experiences as well!

I have one open source utility that has gotten a tiny bit of niche traction. Enough to get a small handful of issues, and one PR. But the issues came mostly at once when I posted about it, and have died off now. When I said I wasn't sure if I wanted to implement a feature the poster politely asked I consider it, but never pressed me on it again.

Maintaining a popular project is DEFINITELY a whole different beast. But I don't want to scare people away from open sourcing something they made, cause they were worried about about the burden of maintainer-ship. In my experience it's been a minuscule amount of work, and each interaction has showed me that others benefit from the tools I've made, which was my full point in open sourcing to begin with!

kylemathews profile image
Kyle Mathews Author

The downsides of OSS definitely come up more with popular projects.

I'll be writing in the future more how many projects can be scoped to avoid these problems e.g. small utilities — or as I wrote 'some projects start busy and work gradually declines as the project approaches "done"'

I'm glad OSS has been rewarding for you!