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Cover image for Make an open source maintainer's day with this one weird trick
Jerod Santo
Jerod Santo

Posted on • Originally published at changelog.com

Make an open source maintainer's day with this one weird trick

Little bits of appreciation can make big differences in maintainers' lives. Here's one way you can show appreciation that will take less than five minutes out of your day and just might make someone else's. 馃檶

The one weird trick

  1. Think of an open source project that you use often.
  2. Open your browser to its GitHub Issues (or alternate platform equivalent).
  3. Open an issue, thanking the maintainer(s).

That's all there is to it! Weird, right? Let me get out ahead of some FAQs. 馃挕

How do I pick an open source project to thank?

Tools are easy: just think about what you've been using lately to get stuff done. Chances are it's open source! Libraries are even easier: check your package.json, Gemfile, or Cargo.toml and find a dependency that has made your life easier. Done and done!

What do I put in the Issue subject?

I suggest going with "Thanks!", but feel free to get creative with it. 馃榾

What do I say in the Issue body?

Tell them how long you've used the thing, how it's made your life easier, why you think it's awesome, etc. You don't have to write a book!

I also like to mention that I expect them to immediately close the issue, to spare them the awkward decision of whether or not to keep it open indefinitely.

Do I have to use Issues?

No way! Tweet at them, email them, or send them a letter by carrier pigeon. It doesn't really matter which medium you use. It only matters that go out of your way to say thanks.

Do you actually do this, Jerod?

Yes! But not as often as I should. Most recently, I realized just how much time I'd saved thanks to the excellent HTTPoison library, so I thanked the author. It made Eduardo's day, which subsequently made my day, too! Weird how that works, huh?

A bonus trick 馃巵

If you want to go the extra mile, JS Party panelist Feross has a super cool npm package called thanks. It will crawl your package.json and print out a list of maintainers who accept donations. Because saying thanks can make someone's day, but giving thanks is on a whole other level. 馃挌

Discussion (15)

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primercuervo profile image
Nicolas Cuervo

I was thinking the same here: the "issues" section is for, well, reporting issues. Sure, not all maintainers might be so picky to make of this a big deal, but also others like to keep of the sections clean, as it makes their life easier (it serves as statistic for bug-squashing, to represent how stable is the current state of the project, etc). Some just read the number of issues open and make themselves an idea of the project stability, without regarding if any of those is a "thanks for your hard work!".

This trick might be great for small projects, maintained by a small team, but for more mature projects you have other communication channels that are more appropriate (slack channels or mailing lists, or twitter as Aleksei mentions - or any other social network the project makes presence on).

I'm sure the intentions of these "thanks" are the best, don't get me (us) wrong. But, have you seen those "please don't talk to the driver" signs on buses? This is a similar thing.

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somedood profile image
Basti Ortiz

YES! I want to see more of this out of the community. Why don't we do this more often? Why haven't I done this before? The life of a developer is a stressful one. The little things can turn one's day upside down. I am definitely doing this when I have the time to do so. Unfortunately, I am too occupied right now to personally thank the great developers who make the world go round.

Thank you so much for sharing this. This should really be done more often. The world would be a much better place if we all did this.

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jeromegamez profile image
J茅r么me Gamez • Edited on

I can confirm this - when I received this kind of 鈥渋ssue鈥 in one of my Open Source Repos, it made my day - I introduced the 鈥瀢on鈥榯 fix鈥 label just for that and open it up each time when I鈥檓 down :)

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phlash909 profile image
Phil Ashby

Yup - I really should do more of this too. It's nice, even when someone simply ticks a Github star (well, it makes my day, easily pleased!)

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jerodsanto profile image
Jerod Santo Author

If you think a thank you note is "junk email", then you should check your personal spam settings for a misconfig.

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rupankarghosh profile image
RupankarGhosh

Hey Jerod,I have been using GitHub for an year and I found really nice open source projects there which makes my life easier. But I never really thanked them for making this sweet tools. Your post give me a chance to think about this small thing of thanksgiving to developed. And thanks for such a nice post 馃拰.

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jerodsanto profile image
Jerod Santo Author

That's awesome, Rupankar! Happy to nudge you in a positive direction. 馃挌

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jdsteinhauser profile image
Jason Steinhauser

HTTPoison really is a good library. I'm going to have to find a few OSS guys to thank now. Great idea Jerod, thanks!

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yorodm profile image
Yoandy Rodriguez Martinez

There's a little nice project for that here

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bernhardwebstudio profile image
Bernhard Webstudio

Great idea. At least star the repositories you use!

For PHP dependency management using Composer, I recommend symfony/thanks;

jerodsanto profile image
Jerod Santo Author

You said:

has a lot of free time to read junk emails.

This is not what you think?