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My FOSS Story (burntsushi.net)
833 points by mfrw 31 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 200 comments



Burntsushi, Andrew. My man. You don't know me, we have never talked but bro I admire the shit out of you.

Trolls are much louder than lurkers. There are a silent majority of us that know how much time and sweat goes into building free tools. We appreciate what you do because you do it for love of being a hacker and showing everyone else how you did it.

I don't think people realize how hard it is having a day job and then building a huge project people want to use. It's mentally taxing. It sucks even more when it's only negative things. Life is already hard man, why do these people have to keep trolling you? It's enough to make you want to flip the desk and give it all up.

I love reading your Rust code, and seeing how active you are on reddit/hacker news. Going through how you built the Aho Corasick crate and comments on you trying to reverse hyperscans teddy algo. was amazing for me. I spent so many hours that day reading ripgrep source code. I was amazed and what you did and the comments everywhere about why, like why the printer was pull/push. The whole time, I was geeking over what you did so much that you started my love of Rust.

Anyways, thanks for just being you man.


Burntsushi. Because of your blog post on ripgrep I found a love that I did not know I had (I am just a lowly self-taught frontend developer). I had no idea you could do magic like this with code, and that it could be that interesting. It made all the right wheels in my head spin and it was, and is, love.

I am going back to university (a place a swore never to return to) to learn about algorithms and algorithmic design, starting next Monday. Because of you.

Nobody has had this big an influence on my career, and every time I hit `rg` on my computer I do so with immense gratitude.

Just thought you should know.


Wow, that is some heavy praise! Thank you very much for the kind words. I wish you all the best with your return to university. :-)


I will be the oldest person on the bench for sure (almost 40... time flies!), and I'm nervous as hell. :)

I will second Kragen in saying that there surely are many others like me, that has been inspired by your work.

Oh and btw, it was the post on Automata, not ripgrep. This one https://blog.burntsushi.net/transducers/


There are probably dozens of people who have been similarly inspired by you, but aren't reading HN this morning.


...or are using your work without you or them knowing. E.g., just the other day I added the fst crate as a dependency to do longest prefix searches on a set of word/continuation pieces [1]. Similarly, we use fst in a word lemmatization tool that is used to lemmatize billions of tokens.

Thanks for the awesome crates!

[1] https://github.com/stickeritis/wordpieces/blob/7abbfb893ec20...


I apologize for not knowing the protocol to say "Thank You" on HN without additional contribution. So threading on this message. Hope it ok!

Thank you Burntsushi. You rock my world!


As I've been learning Rust, I've seen ripgrep held up as one of the shining examples of how to use Rust to create useful, effective tools that new rustaceans should look at.


Same. The repo doesn’t disappoint. It’s thorough and very well documented. I am really glad I started reading through the codebase when I did. My only regret is not reading through earlier.


I came across one of burntsushi's interactions on reddit that's still on my mind. A poster made an unfounded comment, based on their feelings, that a competing tool was faster than ripgrep and when the author rightfully called them out on the improper metrics of said claim and even took the time to explain the unfortunate effects of such claims, they simply responded that they would now flat out drop ripgrep completely. I can only imagine how exasperating multiple interactions of that "drive-by low-effort nature" must make one feel. How does one even respond to comments like that!

If you are reading this burntsushi, I'm really thankful for ripgrep, a tool I use tons of times almost everyday, as a backend for fzf etc. Definitely a happy user!


People are too quick to dismiss other's work when they don't know how hard it is or have done anything significant in the same field. Once dismissed, it becomes a matter of what they feel about it at face value.

To everyone, it seems programmers write 500 words SEO spam posts so not worth much or hard. They can program the same if they wanted to.

(Note - SEO spam posts here refers to subjecive low quality code, duplicate of existing solutions or very similar to what you can do by combining two existing tools.)

Perception or feelings like above are quick to convey so they get conveyed.

Spitting out code is not the hard part of open source imo. It's dedication, commitment, building a community and sustaining feedback. If I am writing software to solve trivial problem, then it wouldn't take me much time but if I am writing software to solve trivial problems for others, It would take me tremendous time to write insignificant piece of code because it needs to be documented, accessible, thoughtful, clean, hosted, testable, branded (naming is one of the hard problems, after all.) and pass through many such criteria.

It doesn't need to but most people who love open source feel this way about their projects.

It's hidden. It's not visible to someone who just created an issue. Somehow we live in meritocratic ideals but forget that meritocratic solution on their own don't get much attention. Without a good readme, a lot of people simply ignore the project. We are actively optmized to go through ton of information that it de-empathizes us to human touch or mistakes. It's quick to notice a typo and make an insignificant comment about it because you can't focus on everything. Anything unexpected is a distraction and we get easily distracted, thus sometime vent on meaningless things.


I’m sure almost everyone doing web uses ripgrep daily without realising it, by way of VS Code search or Atom Search.

I’ve aliased grep to it so that I never have to suffer through slow searches if I type grep out of muscle memory.

Love reading his code too.


Retrain your muscle memory.

grep () {

  echo "Use rg"

  rg "$@"

}


> How does one even respond to comments like that!

Something I struggle with on other internet forums, too. I try to tell myself that I'm not just writing to change the low-effort antagonist's mind, but for everyone else reading the thread, too.


> How does one even respond to comments like that!

I think a large part of it is (at least for me) the inability to believe that you cannot eventually make them see the light.

Sometimes that actually happens. Mostly it doesn’t.


By no means a summary of the article, but I liked these passages in particular:

On emotions:

> When I was a young adult, I'd pride myself on being “logical” and “free of emotional decision making.” Like all good lies we tell to ourselves, there's a kernel of truth to it. But for the most part, at least for me personally, I am a deeply emotional being.

> Emotions run deep and can be a really useful well to tap for intrinsic motivation. For example, for some time after ripgrep was released, I began to immediately hate touching the code that was responsible for printing search results. It was convoluted, buggy and difficult to change. While rewriting is a perfectly logical decision to make on purely technical grounds only, I was motivated to do it because I didn't like the way it made me feel. My emotion helped drive me to make things better for myself.

On communicating thoughtfully in order to communicate effectively:

> ...being thoughtful in one's communication is important to advance your cause. If you're thoughtless, even if you're correct, you risk working against your own ends because the person on the other end might not be able to look past your thoughtlessness.

On the fact that even the author can't and doesn't read every line of every dependency they pull in:

> ...As someone who uses FOSS and tries hard to be discriminating with the dependencies I use, it is just not possible for me to review every line of code I depend on. Even if I could somehow manage to read it all, I certainly wouldn't be able to understand it all in enough detail to be confident that it was doing what I thought it was doing.


This hit me hard too. Heading into college, I was so confident that it was not only possible, but correct to be an emotionless decision maker. That somehow you could navigate the rational path through every problem.

Turns out I was just an asshole who wasn't self aware enough to understand my own feelings and was making other people around me hurt.


Slightly tangential, but that former stance you describe partly is a consequence of the age-old dualism between emotions and reason, to which people quite frequently subscribe despite strong evidence in the last decades from neurosciences that this is just not an adequete model--that's not how our mind work. We are not some sort of judge in their cartesian theater deliberating between the good, rational-mind and the lively but childish emotional-mind.


> I was so confident that it was not only possible, but correct to be an emotionless decision maker. That somehow you could navigate the rational path through every problem.

You can.

And probably you should.

Just accept it is not the _only_ tool.

You have a life too, things come at different angles, from everywhere, and impact you and the people you love differently.

I've been working hard for the past 25 years to become an emotionless decision maker when it's about my primary job: writing software.

I don't keep code around because I'm attached to it, if there's a better way to execute the same thing.

I don't reject other people's code just because it's not the way I would write it.

I don't research pureness, I know that to be useful and, most importantly, correct, software has to solve a lot of edge cases and inevitably is going to be full of trade offs.

I don't only work on new software or features, I don't plan complete rewrites of legacy systems if I can work around the problem, I do maintainance, even of legacy systems, maybe nobody is gonna credit you for doing it, but it's what keeps the World spinning and rationally it's one of the most important tasks.

I used to care about "what will people think if I'll solve this with an 'if'?", now I know that it was my emotions blocking me from doing the right thing.

I don't take bug reports personally, although there are times I struggle with the usual "haven't read the documentation" or "it doesn't work it's not really helpful as a description of the problem", but I try to let my emotions out of it, I try to stay away from them as much as possible.

Emotionless doesn't mean rude or "acting like a killing machine" it means you're detached from emotions and when a problem arise you help to find the solution instead of blaming someone or something.

Emotionless is that alert on the plane that tells you to put your oxygen mask first, before helping your children. Because it's the most rational and logic thing to do, the opposite of what a parent would instinctively do out of love.

> Turns out I was just an asshole

Don't be an asshole is a good start too :)

But sometimes is hard when you're young and everyone older around you talks about tricking the system while you just want to fix it (at least that was my struggle with it when I was younger).


> > I was so confident that it was not only possible, but correct to be an emotionless decision maker. That somehow you could navigate the rational path through every problem.

> You can.

This is narrowly true in theory, noting particularly that it applies only after the problem is defined, because defining a problem is an application of values which ultimately are rooted not in rationality but in emotional preference.

In practice, people don't and probably practically cannot fully define problems in advance of approaching them, but feel out the parameters of the problem in the course of addressing it, so attempting an unemotional approach invaluable means accepting an incomplete understanding of the problem.


> This is narrowly true in theory

There is no switch that make it true just by flipping it.

That's why I said I've been trying for the past 25 years, it's a process.

On the other hand empathy doesn't work much better in practice.

People (we) are largely irrational.

> attempting an unemotional approach invaluable means accepting an incomplete understanding of the problem.

Of course!


All you do by ignoring your emotions is that you become unaware of them. They don't go away. Psychology and neuroscience have again and again found how irrational and emotional we are even when we think we are rational.


> All you do by ignoring your emotions is that you become unaware of them

That's a bit silly to say.

It doesn't work like that, it's like saying that if you ignore your arm it stops working.

And nobody ever said you should ignore emotions, but that you are perfectly capable of behaving differently in different situations.

You're not always emotionally charged, you are not always made of steel, you can control what happens to you much more than you imagine.

> Psychology and neuroscience have again and again found how irrational and emotional

Irrational and hormonal, as in "driven by hormones", the layman term is emotional, but it isn't entirely correct.

Emotional is about emotions (nobody consider rage or sadness or loneliness or "I wanna be left alone" emotions, they are considered bad things, something to be removed), but being autistic is not being emotional, for example.

There are a lot of behaviours not caused by emotions, which, BTW, are located in our brain, our logic processing unit, not in our hearts. They are in its backend, the irrational brain, and they are perfectly rational: they are a tool humans used to survive and take life-saving decisions in the span of milliseconds.

They are the same thing as a fire alarm, they signal a change of state, possibly for the worse.

I'll go further and say that we all are at the mercy of our selfish genes, as R. Dawkins proved.


Ignore your arm and you won't learn how to use it. It won't go away. You'll just have an arm the is super uncoordinated and weak.

Ignore your emotions and you'll become emotionally immature and a person people won't like to interact with, because your emotions will come up when inappropriate.

The importance of learning to feel and label your emotions is one of the most basic findings in psychology.

I recommend reading about Non-Violent-Communication. It sounds like it is something completely different, but it is a practice for learning to labeling you emotions in different situations, and then being able to react more appropriately.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonviolent_Communication https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VT8KGgDo6TY


> Ignore your arm and you won't learn how to use it.

Sorry but no, it doesn't.

If you fall you stretch your arms forward, to protect your head, it's an automatism, your body works the way it is supposed to work even when you ignore it

Most of what it does it's independent from your will

It just works

The heart doesn't stop beating if you don't think about it


This is an argument I could have every day with commenters on HN were I so inclined. Being polite, helpful, and correct is vastly more useful to the world than just being correct.


Perceptions about other people from their online comments are so susceptible to projection that it's important to practice suspending judgment. Tiny packets of text give us so little information about each other that they leave a lot of empty space for interpretation. We fill in those degrees of freedom from our imagination, based on our own prior experiences, which were in place long before that other person showed up.

Sometimes we fill the picture in favorably, but if there's anything in a comment that rubs us the wrong way—anything activating—then the picture we create is not a nice one. Since a forum like this gets thousands of posts a day, there are inevitably plenty of hooks that snag us in this way. If you stop and think about what that means experientially, it's pretty shocking: it means that we are surrounded by our own demons. Since everyone else is having the same experience, a forum like this is a community of people who all feel surrounded by their own demons, not realizing that they are mostly creating them for ourselves. This is why disagreements degenerate so quickly, even though each party is sure that they're the one in good faith. It's also why you'll regularly see generalizations about how awful the community is, posted by users who participate in it every day! It's surprising that such a forum can function at all.

By "demons" I just mean a composite of our own past painful experiences, which is the store we draw on when connecting the dots about someone else in a defensive way. This phenomenon isn't only online; it happens everywhere that people don't know each other well. But online, we know each other so little that there are more dots to connect.


> If you stop and think about what that means experientially, it's pretty shocking: it means that we are surrounded by our own demons. Since everyone else is having the same experience, a forum like this is a community of people who all feel surrounded by their own demons, not realizing that they are mostly creating them for ourselves.

I've been thinking about this all day since I read it. Thanks for this. It's a profound insight for me.

This along with BurntSushi's insight about emotional code smell makes this one of the best hn post ever for me.


> Being polite, helpful, and correct is vastly more useful to the world than just being correct.

This is only true when being "correct" doesn't really matter very much (certainly true on the Internet). One of the hard earned pieces of wisdom from age is that the situations in which there IS a "correct" AND it matters are far fewer than you think. Most decisions are a wash so it's fine to concede.

In addition, "polite" is in the eye of the beholder. I can oppose something politely and people will still scream about how unreasonable I am being.

The problem is that "correct" sometimes matters a LOT and has opposition for non-"correct" reasons. Those same people that you deferred to so many times in the past now get very angry when you suddenly put a stick in the ground and go "No. This is correct and it matters and I'm not moving on it." In addition you will find that there is an entire class of social manipulators who just like to "play poker" and will go absolutely apoplectic when you will not budge a decision without new factual evidence.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”--George Bernard Shaw


Going against your, and parents, commentary, this is a semi-accurate description of how I used to see myself:

"I'd rather be right than popular, and I usually am".

But I mostly wasn't convincing, whether I was right or wrong. And that's what I'm continually working on. Being convincing is arguably more important than being right in the first place. And to be convincing you need to know your topic from a number of angles, and you need to know the audience you're playing to. But you also need to know whose worthy of convincing, because there are some (plenty) that won't be convinced either way, so don't waste your time on them - know a lost cause so as to avoid committing self-denial-of-service.


> Being convincing is arguably more important than being right in the first place.

Only from selfish point of view. If you are wrong and convince people to be wrong too, you just very likely made world less good place.

It is important to be right and double check yourself especially if you are able to be convincing.


Rightness comes in degrees. It can definitely be better to be _almost right_ but convincing than _completely right_ but unconvincing. In fact, all you need is to be _more right_ than people would be if you didn't convince them.


To add to your very good insight, I believe that oftentimes it's not even a dichotomy. Being right does not give a right to be condescending about it, because it turns the conversation into emotional clashes by triggering a desire to oppose on the other.

But the very bad thing about that philosophy is that it makes one tend to default to thinking that it's others that are inferior and can't handle the facts you see so clearly... so if it turns out you were not right in the end, we've got the worst case scenario -- Now you're not just preventing yourself from learning and improving (which should always be the goal), you've become just like a troll, an asshole who's wrong.


> Being right does not give a right to be condescending about it

I agree. It takes discipline to be right without being righteous.


> Being right does not give a right to be condescending

Not to disagree, but, quoting the article, I'd like to "underscore the asymmetry" between people that are right and condescending VS people that are wrong, think they are right (or don't care if they are, most of the times) and are condescending just because they can or because that's the way they think you advance your career.

They read somewhere that CEOs have a bad temper and imply that bad temper is necessary to become CEO.


I almost get the feeling that a lot of HN commenters actually pride themselves on writing terse comments devoid of emotion and sensitivity to the receiver/reader. Too often, I write such comments myself, as well. It seems to be part of a larger effectiveness trend, down to even keeping vocabulary as minimal as possible, and avoiding literature because it's too descriptive, a waste of time.

Is it tied to HN or hacker/startup culture, SV mentality? To pride oneself on being an effective robot? No care in the world except building the next great thing, damned be everything else? Maybe it's about the types of people attracted to computers? I hear the same kind of response daily at work, I mean, generally, we're not known to be the most socially intelligent group.

Thanks for your work BurntSushi, Andrew, ripgrep is great.


As a general rule this is completely fine. However, sometimes being impolite and correct is desperately needed. As long as you are being impolite with great calm and forbearance.


My personal view is that being polite is what a decent person does until the other party starts abusing it.

In short, be polite and understanding by default but don't be a pushover.


Perhaps, but in most cases, people vastly overestimate how common that "sometimes" is, how desperately the "needed" is, and how great their own "forbearance" is. They bring this argument up as part of denying their own contribution to a conflict. It's so easy to deceive oneself about this that a better strategy is not to go there. Self-honesty about what one is actually feeling will mostly eliminate it anyhow.


As someone who worked on a sizeable open source project, I sympathize with all of this. For me, part of growing as a person and making my own life easier were two things. First, to not hold everyone else to your own standards. That is, don't expect anything from anyone. Life gets a lot less disappointing that way. The other is to stop dwelling on what other people think. This one is hard, but if you can truly get there life gets a lot less stressing, programming included - you don't take such offense to the trolls. I think it's an unspoken part of aging and learning. You rarely see a shy old guy in the locker rooms.

All that said, as a complete aside, I have tremendous respect for Mr Gallant. Everything he writes is gold, and if you haven't yet, I'd recommend taking a look at his awesome open source projects.


When reading articles like these I am mostly surprised, because my experience with FOSS has been largely different. I maintain a few semi-popular libraries like shortuuid and catt, but users have always been helpful and courteous, the pull requests have always had the best interests of the library in mind and the users were open to feedback, and the worst I've gotten was users politely asking for support with their particular setup, to which I politely reply that I unfortunately don't have enough time to debug things outside the scope of the code and that's that.

Has anyone else had this experience? Maybe the trouble comes with libraries as popular as ripgrep, or maybe it comes more often to a specific type of person. I'm generally not very patient, so I'd expect to have much more trouble than other maintainers, but I'm also just not negatively affected by bugs and PRs at all. People filing them have taken their time to do it, which means my code is important enough to them to spend time improving it, and bugs happen, so I take bug reports as compliments rather than as personal failures.

Hopefully someone else has the same experience as me, and maybe we can figure out how to generalize that experience for others.


Yeah, not everyone is going to have the same experience. And I'm sure it's at least partially related to your user base. For example, most of the things I build are _mostly_ consumed by other programmers. But what if it was consumed by mostly non-technical users? I'm sure anyone could guess how that might impact your own experience with your users. (I do have some projects, like nflgame, that were mostly targeted at folks who were beginning coders or even sometimes folks who couldn't code at all. The experience was quite different, but overall still positive.)

I think the other thing I'd like to re-iterate is that the vast majority of my interaction with others in FOSS is either neutral or positive. This is kind of what I meant by the negativity overshadowing the positive and how, at least for me personally, the negativity sticks in my memories more than anything else.


> I think the other thing I'd like to re-iterate is that the vast majority of my interaction with others in FOSS is either neutral or positive.

I think this is the issue. I get maybe a few issues a month, so I don't get enough volume to have very negative interactions.

By the way, thanks for ripgrep, it's one of the most-used and most useful tools in my command line.


I maintain a TB extension for removing duplicate messages. It has ~70K users or so (of course, people use it rarely, not regularly).

I always get new bugs or low-score reviews claiming "the extension didn't detect my dupes!" - when actually the messages are not quite dupes, just very similar, and I have to err on the side of caution when suggesting messages to delete.

So I have to keep explaining this to people who are telling me that my extension sucks or doesn't work.

But - with some other FOSS libraries it's been mostly positive.


I think the author is on the right track with his section on Setting Boundaries.

Personally, by the time I release something as open source, it is Finished. That is, it's feature complete and working to my satisfaction, and as far as I'm concerned probably won't need much in the way of improvement going forward.

So while I do occasionally get feedback from people using it, there's never any pressing need for me to do anything about it. There have been a handful of genuine bugs over the years, but mostly it's requests for features that I don't need, and therefore probably won't add.

Occasionally somebody will go as far as adding one of those features themselves, including a patch or PR with the addition. Thus far, all of those cases have been for stuff I hadn't personally seen as necessary, so my only response is to politely decline and suggest the author forks off his own version if he wants to publish that change.

My philosophy, in short, is that the code I release is out there to use if you want. But it's not something that needs "maintenance". It's Finished.


Yours is the only mentally healthy attitude one can have today in regards to open source. The character and audience of OSS have changed and increased respectively.

It was quite sad to read this post for me, because I can see that the author has partly interwoven their sense of self-worth with their OSS work. The whole blog is a painful balancing act between speaking their mind and being polite which can only end in more grief for them until they let their displeasure show.

This is not coincidentally the impression I also get from the larger online Rust community. They repress their feelings, always trying to be prim and proper in their interactions, but those normal(!) negative feeling are still there and vent in bizarre ways, such as bothering random Rust developers the other day because their code is not "safe enough".


> until they let their displeasure show.

That's exactly what setting boundaries is.


I wish there was a well-understood convention to opt out of "social coding". A way to put up a project under an open source license (or CC0/public-domain) along with a notice that says effectively, "feel free to fork, but don't file issues or submit patches."

You can put that in a README, but people won't read it. Github won't let you disable i̶s̶s̶u̶e̶s̶ ̶l̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶I̶ ̶l̶o̶o̶k̶e̶d̶ pull requests, unless you archive the project (making it read-only). Is it possible on one of the other hosting services, like Gitlab?

We need better ways to draw boundaries around open source projects and contributors.

ETA: How can we counter the Bullshit Asymmetry Principle? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullshit#Bullshit_asymmetry_pr...

> The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.


You can do this on SourceHut, just make a git.sr.ht repo and don't make anything else (ticket tracking, mailing lists, etc, are opt-in).

On GitHub you can disable issues but not pull requests.


I have never tried but perhaps someone could come up with a useless_machine[0] type of webhook[1] such that a pull request would do nothing but close itself

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Useless_machine [1] https://developer.github.com/v3/activity/events/types/#pullr...


There are some projects like that on GH but they're marked as abandoned or clones of e.g. Linux. I understand where you're coming from but whatever it is you've open sourced won't be very popular, because open source software is less about technical excellence and more about popularity, market- and mindshare.

I mean I'm trying to pick an alternative to Ant Design (because Chinese) and there's a billion of them, but I'm having trouble deciding which one is the best option - Bootstrap, because most stars? Material UI because it shows up high in search results? And there's at least dozens more that will be objectively better (on a technical level) which I'll probably never see, and which I'll probably never use (because low popularity means low engagement and no guarantees that it'll still be around and maintained a few years down the line).


re: Ant - If you’re using React and don’t need more than barebones mobile support, I’ve found Blueprint to be great.


Assuming the author uses their own software, disabling the ability to hear about problems with it before you trip over it themselves is counterproductive. The minority of users would fix it and offer a PR in my experience, more would be willing to drop the author a note in an issue.

Unfortunately that useful information comes mixed in with, eg, users who think the author's time is worth so much less than theirs (didn't the author demonstrate it was worth nothing by offering this work for free?) they want hand-holding for every little thing. The author can put it in README.md and point these guys at it when closing their issue.


This is what we call "unmaintained" software. 'Unmaintained' may sound like a value judgment, but it's not - it's exactly what you're talking about; a project where any attempt to contact the putative maintainer is likely to be ignored altogether, and the "proper" channel for enhancement involves forking it and perhaps maintaining a version yourself.


Use the “No Maintenance Intended” badge:

http://unmaintained.tech/


Exactly – put that badge or the similar “Repo Status: Unsupported” badge (https://www.repostatus.org/#unsupported) in your README to succinctly communicate what users should expect from the project.


I would leave PRs available. Repo owner has no obligation to merge PRs however forks can still make use of upstream repo's PRs. That haplens usually when unmaintained repo accumulated a lot of popularity.


> Is it possible on one of the other hosting services, like Gitlab?

Looks like you can on GitLab under "Settings" > "General" > "Visibility, project features, permissions".


(new) GitLab engineer here. This is correct, it can be set to allow merge requests from "Only Project Members", or disabled entirely. You can also disable pretty much everything else as well, if desired.

Disclaimer: nobody submits contributions to my hobby projects anyway.


GitHub let's you disable Issues but not PRs. Not sure since when.


  echo "Don't" >CONTRIBUTING
  git add CONTRIBUTING
  git ci -m "Clarify that contributions are not welcome"
  git push


A "license" covers the legal situation, maybe we need a "social statement" or something to that effect that communicates the authors philosophy?


I'd be rather suspicious of pull requests from people too lazy to read the README, anyway.


> When I was a young adult, I'd pride myself on being “logical” and “free of emotional decision making.” Like all good lies we tell to ourselves, there's a kernel of truth to it. But for the most part, at least for me personally, I am a deeply emotional being.

I’ve seen this in quite a few people, both online and in the real world – people that think they are all about logic and not about emotions. And in each and every case, I believe they are only fooling themselves in thinking so. Emotions are really powerful and they affect us all in far more ways than a lot of people like to admit.

Love, hate, jealousy, insecurity, and the list goes on.

People are really good at rationalizing their feelings though, so it is easy to get fooled into thinking that a decision or stance we took was based in some objective truth when in reality emotions were steering us.

Yet so many people refuse to accept that this is the case for them just like it is for everyone else. Even though it is blatantly clear to a lot of people around them when they are acting as they do because of emotions.

I think the world would be a better place if everyone admitted to themselves that emotions is a part of our nature. Then perhaps more people would be able to handle their own emotions better, and we would all, including themselves, be better off.

I certainly try to listen to my emotions and to understand how they effect me.


Values, esthetics, craft, experiences, priorities, and whatnot.

All the stuff that's neither logic or emotion. Which tend to be invisible to geeks.

I came up with gamers. Most very smart, in the high IQ and educational achievement departments. About half were very dismissive of other people's ideas, views. "I'm smart and logical. You're wrong. Meaning you're dumb, illogical, or worse, emotional."


This is a really good article.

One thing that I found surprising was that the author considered comments along the lines of "Just chiming in to say that I would also really like this feature." to be rude. I would have thought it was helpful feedback; more people indicating the value of a feature seems helpful in assessing whether it's worth doing (if it's not obvious for other reasons).


I help with UX in a FOSS project. When it comes to comments of that kind, the problem is that they are usually quite low effort. The person thought: "X is a good idea" but never once considered giving proper reasons, exploring other possible solutions, thinking aboit how it should actually look like and so on.

In my opinion a good feature request does all that legwork. The goal (my goal) is to arm the maintainer with a action-plan that they can pull out of the drawer and start working on immidiately. If this doesn't work — seeing that the other side did the legwork can still be motivating and creates a good climate.

Just imagine we are not talking about code, but about cool Lego-towers for a moment. If you want the other kid to add a certain detail to the tower, the least you can do is explain it to them properly. Better is to inspire their creativity alltogether: who says your idea is the only/best way to solve the problem?


Yes, that's a fair point. Just "me too" doesn't convey a lot of extra information. Would "me to, because this would help solve my scenario xyz" be more helpful? What about "me too, because I also have the exact problem described" (which at least conveys that they've put more thought in to it than a totally light weight "me too")?


> Would "me to, because this would help solve my scenario xyz" be more helpful?

Quite definitly. But even more helpful would be if you listed all scenarios you can think of where this would be helpful, even ones that are not useful to you, but might be to others.

Then you think about how it would impact existing functionality (both positively and negatively), would it be the consistent thing to do? Where could be traps and pitfalls? Maybe even ad a mockup of hoe it would look.

If you did that, the maintainer sees that you didn't just demand a feature drive-by-shooting-style, but you did the actual legwork of fleshing the thing out. Don't marry your own ideas, others might be inspired by you and have a even better way of solving this.

If you are writing one sentence you are doing to little usually (in my eyes).


> But even more helpful would be if you listed all scenarios you can think of where this would be helpful, even ones that are not useful to you, but might be to others.

The danger with this is encouraging overengineering. It's easy, particularly if someone else is going to be doing the work, to say, "Maybe someone out there might someday want to do X, Y, or Z"; causing a maintainer to put a whole lot of effort and extra complexity into their code for use cases which nobody uses.

In fact, when only a single person wants a feature, there's a similar risk, that I'll put a whole lot of extra effort and complexity into the code for a use case which only one person thinks they want; and that after it's implemented, they decide they don't like it and go somewhere else anyway.

That's why I didn't understand why he considered "I would also use this feature" comments to be rude or unhelpful. I would think knowing that at least two (or three or four) people wanted a feature would be helpful feedback in knowing what kinds of things were worth adding extra complexity.

Perhaps in his mind they took the tone of, "Hey yeah, we're all waiting for you to do this work for us for free; what's the hold-up? Get cracking!" Which of course would be a bad attitude; but looking at the exact thing he quoted, I'd say that's more about what he's reading into it than what the commenter actually said.


I was mulling over that sentence too. While I’d probably not characterize them as rude per se, those little pings do intrude more than, say, adding another upvote on the issue. I already know there is a lot more that I’d like to do than have time for, and having these personal pleas add a little more guilt to the mix without providing any more substance are often a negative (especially when there are lots of them).


Yeah, that's fair, in the context of GH where you have the option of doing the thumbs up instead, a "me too" style comment is a little rude.


The number of big projects with over a dozen identical comments saying "Same problem" is quite astounding. At what point does the maintainer turn off notifications? 5? 20?

Perhaps the point was that unless you have something useful to add to a GitHub issue then don't comment.

People don't want Reddit style pun threads here and yet to hear complaints about that being enforced, in fact the opposite. GitHub issues is similar in that sense. Everything has its place and time.


Yes, I think that adding the thumbs up feature (which people still use badly) was a good solution to that. It lets you give a "me too" response without cluttering up the comments, and without spamming the maintainers with notifications either - but if they do look they can see people expressing interest.


> with over a dozen identical comments saying "Same problem"

That's an UI problem.

If a bug affects 100% of the users no matter what or just a few of them, in some weird condition and setup, is completely different.

There should be a way to be prioritize or sort bugs by popularity.


If the issue is a bug (as opposed to a feat request) maybe it's useful to know how common it is? It would imply its not just a one-off issue with a particular users setup.


As an OSS author, unless I ask for that feedback, “me too” comments both add noise to my inbox and come off as entitled. It feels like the author of the comment expects me to implement a feature for them because they want it. I don’t maintain OSS as a product, I maintain it because it is code that I need for my personal use cases and I benefit by having others participate in QA and feature dev.

This probably does not apply to OSS projects that are products built by companies.


Thanks!

> One thing that I found surprising was that the author considered comments along the lines of "Just chiming in to say that I would also really like this feature." to be rude.

I mentioned on r/rust that "rude" is perhaps too strong of a word. I was more or less thinking of things that annoyed or grated on me, and then just kind of lumped that in with "rude." To be sure, I do not get to lay claim to a universal definition of rudeness. :-)

But yeah, I think others responding to you pretty much summed up why it can be mildly annoying. And to be clear, I do think part of this is on me: I'm working on trying to let such minor things like this slide more. It's a process.


I probably wouldn't call it rude, but I'd say it's definitely unwanted. It just adds annoying noise to my inbox. In my time working on FOSS, it's pretty rare that more "votes" would make me more likely or more interested in implementing a particular feature. I certainly would have been interested in knowing what features were most important to users, but I think a drive-by "me too" on a feature request is a poor sample of what users overall really want.

And regardless, for some projects, at some times, you just feel like working what you feel like working on, and more users clamoring for a particular feature just doesn't motivate you.


There are two unstated assumptions underlying “helpful feedback” that need to be considered and re-evaluated.

First, the assumption that ‘voting’ is an appropriate and helpful form of social interaction with someone who has not expressly invited that participation from others.

Second, the assumption that a group expression of a statement is emotionally equivalent to a single individual’s expression of the same statement.

These are not universally shared assumptions, especially in open source.


It depends on the phrasing. If you’re just saying “me too” you’re just annoying the maintainer instead of adding a silent +1 reaction.

If you add one more use case that might help the maintainer reconsider the feature, then I’d find it acceptable. Sometimes the issue opener didn’t explain the utility that well or wrote some example that made it sound like it would be a niche feature and not worth it.


Yeah, I wasn't thinking of GH specifically, but if you have the silent thumbs up option, then a "me too" with no meaningful contribution is a bit rude.


I reckon that if you have to process a lot of communications about your project(s), and because you are the maintainer you HAVE to pay attention, comments like that are high noise, low signal, and while one of them is fine, dozens or hundreds of those a day just cost energy without bringing anything back.


Thought the same... maybe what he finds rude is the comment itself in cases (like Github) where you can react to the comment with a thumbs up to say the same thing, instead of a new comment that sends a notification and maybe even an email. There needs to be a non-rude way to show support for a constructive idea.


Yeah, I didn't think of that, and several people have pointed it out in the responses :) Agreed completely, if the silent :+1: option is there then a content free "me too" is a bit rude.


After thinking about it I agree with him. If you are going to stand up to speak in a community meeting, you should have something more thoughtful to say than "I agree with what that guy said".


If one doesn't have proper additional reasons for their chiming, thats what the vote button is for. Otherwise the useless text is just taking up valuable screen estate and making people scroll un-necessarily.


Just chiming in to say that I was also surprised by this statement.


This is a great article. I respect every FOSS maintainer for what they're doing and am saddened by the bs I often see them deal with. The article is balanced in describing different reasons for coming off rude--as a non-native speaker of English I've been rude without meaning to, for example. But even if the intentions weren't bad per se, these interactions are an unnecessary burden to the maintainer.

So to reiterate: any bug report or pull request that isn't good will waste the maintainer's time and effort. I wonder if the community could address that. I mean, most anyone could screen issues for tone and the effort taken. We could have a group of volunteers that tag issues worthy of the maintainer's time and explain to reporters how they should improve. That would be a valuable contribution to FOSS.

Setting up the system to do this is not trivial, however. Ideally I'd love to just tag my repos for issue review. I'd wish for the reviewers to be trustworthy. And as a volunteer reviewer I'd want a queue of issues to review, and I'd require some compensation (e.g. a profile page showing how helpful I've been).

I guess the feasibility of this idea comes down to the availability of volunteers. What do you people think?

PS. Burntsushi, if you're reading this, huge thanks for your great software. You're one of the people whose contributions I appreciate the most in FOSS.


Thanks for the kind words!

You have an interesting idea, but it seems tricky to pull off in practice. To be clear, I'm not necessarily trying to say that low effort issues _are_ a waste of my time, but rather, that is sometimes how _I feel_. I think it would be good to collectively reduce their occurrence---I'm not sure how---but sometimes the choice isn't between "low effort issue" and "high quality issue," but rather, "low effort issue" and "none at all." In the latter case, I'm not sure which I would prefer. Certainly, sometimes low effort issues really do lead to productive outcomes.

It's tough and it's not something that has an easy answer. Some part of it is me overcoming how negatively I feel about them and another part is perhaps others spending a bit more time filing good issues. At least, in my opinion anyway!


I didn't mean to imply how you think or feel. Sorry if my comment came off that way.

Maintainer burnout is a real problem and I personally would run a real risk if I ever released something worthwhile.

I agree that the idea is raw and difficult to implement, but we should think about these things as a community (ie. I don't have the energy to do anything about it, but I'm hoping someone would).


There's a reasonable amount of FOSS developers here, so let me ask a question.

Often times I'll run across a FOSS project that claims to solve a problem I have, encounter a bug that makes the project useless for my purposes, and discover that said bug has had an open entry in the issue tracker for years. This even occurs in major FOSS software with paid developers working on it.

Clearly no one actually cares about the bug, and "chiming in" is apparently considered rude. So I ignore your software and move on. Whatever, you don't owe me anything.

Then some day I respond to a forum post by someone asking about experiences with your software, and relate mine. Apparently this is also rude, and I should have filed a bug report.

I guess my question is: is there any scenario under which one can actually provide feedback other than praise that you will accept?


> Clearly no one actually cares about the bug, and "chiming in" is apparently considered rude.

I clarified this a bit more in my article.

> Then some day I respond to a forum post by someone asking about experiences with your software, and relate mine. Apparently this is also rude, and I should have filed a bug report.

... that is definitely not what I said. What I said was this:

> Unconstructively whining about software on [insert social medium here].

I'm not sure how this means you can't post constructive critical feedback. That's certainly fair game.


I actually came to this HN thread specifically looking for the word “chime” because it seemed so at odds w/ what I would personally consider rude.

I hope you don’t think this comment is also rude!

Anyway, let me say, ripgrep is an amazing fucking tool. Really love it. <3


I maintain some open source projects, and honestly, I've never considered chiming in on an open bug ticket rude. I also have never considered relating your experiences about my project on a forum rude, either. Don't get me wrong, I've had plenty of negative experiences with rude posts from users, but neither of these qualify to me unless the posts themselves are rude.

Something like this is fine with me: "I'm having this issue as well. It's unusable for me without this feature, because my use case is such that..." In fact, this is downright helpful, because I may be able to offer an alternative solution using already-implemented functionality.

Here's the same post, but rude and unhelpful: "I'm having this issue as well. This project is useless without this."

People often judge the merits of a project based on their own use-case and nothing more. If they can't use it for their use-case, they can't imagine any other use-cases where it's useful, and so the project is deemed useless (or some other hyperbolic, universal judgement of worth).


> For me personally, this is an area where I struggle the most. My emotions get the best of me, because all I can think is: why didn't this person take the time to read and fill out the issue template? Or, in cases where bugs are user errors that could be resolved by just reading the documentation, all I can think of is: I spent this time gifting this user some software, but they can't even read the README before filing a bug report?

This resonates so much. Users who blatantly waste your time despite multiple cues steering them towards actionable bug reports are worse then trolls or haters IMO. (I use issue templates, with all caps and explosive emojis, and I even put specific actionable wiki links in error messages, but some people still insist on opening barebones “doesn’t work” bug reports. Or duplicates. People open duplicates when there are like three open issues in total and one is clearly the same issue as theirs. What the hell?)

With trolls or haters you can simply drop the ban hammer, easy. With this kind of high-maintenance users, it’s hard to decide whether you should waste time helping them, or simply refuse action until they get their act together.

> It can be maddening. But that's emotions for you. They certainly aren't always rational. The documentation could probably be clearer. Or the user could have just missed that part of the documentation. Or the user doesn't have experience maintaining FOSS projects or filing bug reports and maybe does not know how to provide an easy reproduction. These are all perfectly reasonable things to have happen, and it's why I do my best not to let my emotions get the best of me. While the way I feel is important, empathizing with the person on the other end of the wire is important too.

Honestly it’s hard to empathize with users who can’t follow “run command with --debug, post entire output” or who don’t bother to read anything when the error message clearly says “here’s a wiki article for your specific error, read it before reporting a bug”.


Until recently I was working for a large startup where I would see this kind of behavior constantly. Join a inter-team developer-support channel, send a "I'm seeing errors from your service" and wait for you to respond. One time I ended up chasing the error back to a deployment done by the person sitting next to the reporter.

We also had a helpdesk-style support chat for our developer tooling, complete with a bot that would respond to common error messages with links to solutions and people would STILL directly message engineers that supported the tools asking for help on trivial build issues or inability to use command line tools.

It was sort of baffling to see, its not like its any quicker than doing the right thing, it was simply people being lazy. Some of it's an Eternal September, too, I think.


Ripgrep is a work of art and like every work of art it will find critics that dislike it for not fitting their own mind.

burntsushi is one of these people in open source that we would need more of — both because of the quality of his work and the positive and grown way he interacts with the world.

If you read this: thank you for the incredible effort, switching to your software was a complete no-brainer as it is well documented and works — and before this creates pressure: it certainly will not get any worse. Work at your own pace.


What a phenomenal article. It's shocking how entitled people get about 100% free software. Some really emotionally intelligent insights here.


Looking back, I've written some regrettable github issues with a lack of respect for the maintainers.

What I've learnt is that if you want something done then ask politely, if you want something done now then try and do it yourself. That's the inherent beauty of open source.


If you want something done, do it yourself or hire someone to do it. There is no implicit reason for you to share your desire with the maintainer, unless you have a working agreement with them or would like to initiate one.

If you consider what you want and you think that it clearly aligns with the maintainer’s needs, then consider sharing your ‘want’ along with an explanation of why you think it’s valuable for their needs.

If you can’t figure out what their needs are, and you can’t provide an explanation for why this is important to them, then there’s no reason for you to bring it up to them at all.

(This will seem abrupt, but it’s not meant to be hurtful in any way - I’m just literal and sociology-ish. I did my best to be clear and kind about my view. No harm intended, apologies if any caused.)


What if we required that people leave videos instead of writing up issues? I'm not seriously proposing that, but it's harder to be a jackass when speaking than writing. Especially to someone's face.


KernelPRBot on https://github.com/torvalds/linux/pulls just asks you to use the mailing list.


Then you would never recieve an issue from me. :(

I have a hard time conveying my thoughts properly without writing them down. You would watch me blubber about the process rather than the problem.

Beside, it being a privacy issue and not comfortable sharing something that might get memed or used for political purposes.


Funnily enough I often have the opposite issue. I will sometimes start writing up a bug report, spend a couple of hours trying to get my thoughts down on paper, then give up because I have neither the time nor energy to finish. I kind of wish there was an option to submit a voice recording along with some code snippets :(


True, it's not really a workable idea. My point is that text communication encourages jackassery, and many people don't think about that until they consider just how ridiculous or obnoxious their words sound when spoken aloud to somebody's face.


We should use more emojis. :D

It helps convey some intent. Hm, that would actually be interesting. A browser plugin that automatically inserts emojis to convey your current emotions or feelings. You can set it yourself, it may learn from your interactions too.


Video can be costly, especially in countries where data is still expensive. It can be a barrier to allowing more diverse communities to also contribute unfortunately.


I used to maintain a fairly popular and important open source project and I can definitely empathize with lots of what Andrew has written.

What always fascinated me is just how much the form of a request impacted the probability that I would spend energy to help. Someone who submits a polite and well thought-out bug report just makes you want to help them. OTOH someone writing "Hey when will you fix your stupid bug? My startup has already lost $XXX in revenue because of you" just fills you with schadenfreude and makes you want to troll that person, even if the request is essentially the same in both cases. Some users just don't understand how much they undermine their requests. This kind of attitude may work if you are a boss or a customer, but open source runs on common courtesy.

One bit of the article that I disagreed with is classifying "Just chiming in to say that I would also really like this feature" as rude. Yes, it is passive aggression, but it is better than active aggression and still provides a bit of valuable information. Open source at its best is like a swarm of locusts devouring the problem domain and for this to work information must flow from users back to developers.

Oh, and thanks for your open source work, burntsushi!


Yeah I agreed that this call-out seemed out of place. I wouldn't even categorize it as passive aggressive. I see it as attempting to give input as to what ought to be prioritized. The intent seems positive to me as long as it's not pushy.

Now, maybe the maintainer doesn't want this form of input, or prefers to have the input in the form of issue voting, etc. Overall though I don't see the action as inherently rude.

Then again I'm not a major project maintainer.


"rude" is perhaps too strong of a word. I've added a clarification to the article since a lot of folks seem to be getting hung up on this. I also responded to this here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22098281


Just like the author of actix-web decides to exit from his popular Rust open source project recently(https://github.com/actix/actix-web). As a maintainer of large open source project is not a fun task. whatever mental or physical, it's really a hard job.

Respent for every maintainer and contributor, it's not easy. You can read some issues in the repository, the authors of some issues are just complaining or criticizing the idea or bug, it's unfair and rude. in the end, hurt maintainer's passions. Every developer should know it and respect it like the README or guideline before posting issues or comments.

It's a fantastic post about the analysis of OSS maintainer, Respect for Mr. Gallant.


Pay the maintainer!!! We need Software Institutes fund by the United Nations for maintaining open software


> I taught myself to set boundaries: it's okay to say no to a feature solely on the grounds that you don't want the added maintenance that comes from it.

This makes perfect sense. The author seems to understand well that there's a balance to be struck when working on OSS; you can't always work only on the stuff you want to work on. On the other hand, being the one who initiates and maintains some FOSS has to mean something. If it doesn't mean you get to decide (within reason) on somewhat subjective calls such as "is this feature worth implementing when weighed against the maintenance burden?" then contributing and maintaining OSS ends up meaning nothing other than willingly doing work for free and letting everyone else in the world be your boss. Clearly that's an untenable situation.


> why didn't this person take the time to read and fill

> out the issue template?

Really? I'm thankful when people just report bugs, rather than ignoring them. Assuming they're actual bugs. I can always ask them for details and wait until they give them.

I feel like I've been saved the embarrassment of the bug continuing to live on in the code.

> Or, in cases where bugs are user errors that could be

> resolved by just reading the documentation, all I can

> think of is: I spent this time gifting this user some

> software, but they can't even read the README before

> filing a bug report?

For me, I'm frustrated that the UI and documentation are not clear enough, or not attractive enough, to ensure everybody reads them and abides by them. I mean, for me it's an imperfection on my part, or perhaps "basic human nature".

What I'm most frustrated about is when people can invest the time and effort to write long bug reports without realizing that the behavior they're seeing is not a bug at all.

Another source of frustration is bugs which are not mine, but affect the behavior of my software, and which I can mostly do nothing about.


I think there might be value in creating a “Maintainer’s Cookbook” of socially appropriate phrases that they can use to decline interest in feature requests, technical support, pull requests, bug reports, etc.

That looks like an excellent feature! Good work, thanks for showing it to me :)” [pull request closed]

I’m sorry to hear that it’s not working out for you. If you’re able to work out what went wrong, feel free to post an update.” [closes issue]

That’s an unfortunate flaw to have encountered. It doesn’t come up in my usage, but I agree with your diagnosis. If you end up fixing it in your own fork, please do mention this issue.” [closes issue]

And an accompanying “Open source user guide” that covers the basics (much of which I don’t know today)

How to fork, repackage, and replace an upstream Node dependency when you’re trying to fix a bug

When is it appropriate to submit an issue/feature/pull request?

How do I upvote something I want to see an open source author do for me?

etc.


As somebody who works with data a lot, the need for analysing and transforming CSV files comes up and I recall, how I needed something fast. Then I discovered `xsv` about a year ago, and since then I still use it on a weekly basis. since then also discovered ripgrep.

It was also for me a gateway in the sense I see rust come up on HN, but only when I started using these tools I realised how fast and light those little apps can be. It made me want to learn Rust and seeing the community around it I realise, it is a very wonderful thing.


I can fully sympathize with this. We have an open-source app on Google play, and the amount of dirt flying at us from users is astounding. What makes matters more funny, app is a client, so most of the problem are related to improperly configured servers. Also, since Google play allows users to leave ratings, every jerk feels entitled to award you 1/5 rating for every minor glitch he experiences.

We have learned to ignore this, and adopted a policy that we just don't care about ratings. If the user is asking for help in a polite way, we help him however we can, for free. If he is an entitled jerk, we just mock him for being entitled.

Of course, then some start ranting how immature our behavior is are and how we must learn to treat our 'customers' better. Of course, right.


I am curious if your open source app is on F-Droid, and if so do you find a better class of user there?

Slightly off topic - I can understand that people publish on Google Play to get reach, but it's upsetting when open source projects make it their sole binary distribution mechanism. It is strange to mandate that the user adopt the model of centralized control by Google, when 3rd party binary distribution is just as well supported on Android as any other platform. This goes for any app, of course, but open source apps in particular ought to know better (and with F-Droid, need not even host the files themselves).


The app is on F-droid as well, but the audience there is much smaller. Also, F-droid apps can't use push notifications from Google,and it severely limits their capabilities.


Getting way off topic now, but I've heard this about Google's "push notifications" before - what's the technical restriction? Surely whatever Google is doing, anyone else can do? Anecdotally, using K9 mail and a GMail account on a Google-free phone, my emails invariably arrive instantly (to my great surprise - I expected periodic polling).


The technical restriction is that you need to have google apps installed and have a valid app certificate to use FCM (the current name of Google's push notifications).

As for alternatives. FCM (or, for that matter, Apple's APNS) requires a persistent connection between a device and push servers to work. Curiously, both Google and Apple seem to be doing this via maintaining a modified XMPP protocol. And this just can't be replicated by any other party: to maintain a persistent connection an app must work all the time and be active in the background, and both Google and Apple heavily suppress background app activity (google has some workarounds, but they become more and more restricted with each OS update).

All in all, I believe that this policy is begging for some antitrust action, so device owners could legally subscribe to alternative app stores and push notification providers. From what I know about XMPP, replicating a server part of a push service should not be insanely hard to do.


It also omes down to power consumption and special mobile protocols.

Keeping a TCP connection open on a mobile link requires occasional keepalive package exchange. That wakes up the mobile radio, which is quite power hungry if the device isn't doing anything else.

That radio wakeup is needed for each independent TCP connection's keepalives, so to minimise the power consumption of multiple idle app/notifier connections, you want them multiplexed over a single TCP connection.

Another factor is the ability to send the underlying event over a lower-level mobile protocol. The mobile base station is regularly exchanging with the handset anyway, to maintain a link which can carry station-to-handset events already and to monitor the link. The whole thing is very well optimised for the radio. So an occasional application event can be sent over that link as well without needing any extra keepalives or radio wakeups. That's the most power efficient thing to do in principle, assuming application events aren't happening often.

Unfortunately, having lots of independent push notification providers being used by different apps at the same time would be quite power hungry.

I think it would be great if a user could direct all the subscriptions through one or two services of their choice though, including an option to provide their own service URL that they run themselves.


It's an unusual comparison, but this New Yorker story about a Buddhist monk maintaining the equivalent of a suicide hotline in Japan struck me as one of the best things I've read about the difficulty of being a maintainer: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/06/24/last-call-3


I own a couple or FOSS repos myself, and after some years I tearnt to classify my projects into two categories:

ego-boosting: projects I don't care much and that I give away just because I enjoy making them and increment my selfish ego-feelings when someone uses it.

work: a project that has a specific work purpose or is the base or core product and that I want the users to adopt it.

Now, I hope the following isn't too rude, but it's the way I developed a thick skin, and also how I think about it when trolls and haters come around my projects: being a repo maintainer gives you a (small) position of power (take it easy, you are not Torvalds!). That is, when someone downloads or uses your project, is that someone that came to you and not the way around; when shitposting in some forum happens, it's them talking about you and not the way around. When there is a rude request of some type, it's them needing you and not the way around.

When someone comes with "you should X...", my toughs are "yes, I should because, instead of being completely useless about it, I'm the only one who can do something about it".

Of course, the above applies to the ego-boosting kind of projects more than to the work ones (since I want adopters coming and staying around, I can be more flexible).

If the request or critique comes from well educated, patient users, then obviously the above doesn't apply and the support/request goes through smoothly.

If the critique comes from a peer maintainer or someone you esteem, then the situation could be different (and happened a few times to me, and I can't remember how I felt).


That’s a fabulously well-written article: very insightful and demonstrating remarkable self-awareness. It inspired me to check out the README for ripgrep and I was equally impressed with the quality of its documentation.

Until now, I’ve always shied away from any of the modern `grep`-like programs as I prefer to be comfortable with the standardised utilities as specified by POSIX (`find` and `grep`). However, I often find myself using GNU extensions – since they’re so useful and make certain tasks easier. I figured today would be a good day to take it a step further and try out `ripgrep`. One feature that immediately appeals to me is that `rg` automatically respects `.gitignore` and skips hidden files/directories and binary files; When searching recursively, I pretty much always use `-I` with GNU grep and often use its `--exclude` and `--exclude-dir` options (features not specified by POSIX). I’m looking forward to experimenting with ripgrep and discovering what other benefits it can offer.

So thanks, Burntsushi/Andrew.


Burntsushi, as part of the mostly silent crowd I also want to share, for once, how much I learned from reading some of your code, mostly in the rust regex crate. Amazing work, truly inspiring.


As someone with a footprint in open source, I agree that giving labor for free sets an expectation.

That said, I never had the request to rewrite in a different programming language, yet. Downstream library users as well as package maintainers seem delighted with Python.

I think GitHub sponsors and patreon-like systems can be the way forward. If open source users said "hey, I'll give (10/20/50/whatevers affordable to me now) bucks a month toward open source projects" and then proportion them across projects they choose, that can go forward to things.

But open source is much bigger than projects themselves. One example would be package maintainers on Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch, BSD port systems, and so on. They put enough time into it they should be compensated.

I think with these new platforms like GH Sponsors, we're on a trajectory toward fixing this.

> I got a drive-by comment effectively telling me to use a “working” license instead, along with some (what felt like) condescending lecture on how licensing works.

I hope my many drive-by github issues on licenses over the years weren't taken as condescending. I want to avoid the headache in the future of a migration, an example of what it can entail: https://github.com/twbs/bootstrap/issues/2054

That's a lot of work.

Worse is the matter of ambiguity with certain licenses. Having something clear and simple that'll work across jurisdictions is a winner.

Wishful thinking or intent doesn't matter when the door is left open for a legal adversary different interpretation of the facts, then having to pay expenses to defend it. That's drama in and of itself, but could also really hurt a business, esp. in early phases.


I have mad respect for Andrew (burntsushi). I use ripgrep everyday. Thank you for the awesome tool. Anyone who uses VSCode also uses it since it powers the underlying search.

I made some issues asking for some enhancements and was kindly denied. I like this. It tells me the project is focused. Well I liked it because I got a proper response within 48 hours. Most projects just have things laying there forever.

Andrew, if you’re reading this. How do you manage your time to get so much time to write OS code? Also how do you make enough money to be sustainable ?


Thanks for the kind words! :-)

> How do you manage your time to get so much time to write OS code?

I don't think there's any secret to it. I just love it, so I wind up _making_ time for it. And my life circumstances allow for it.

> Also how do you make enough money to be sustainable?

I work in Cambridge, MA on stuff mostly unrelated to FOSS. I'm very fortunate to live in a location where salaries for engineers are pretty good.


What a great article.

I'm a happy ripgrep user. I'm impressed by its speed, its ease of use, and the positive vibe on the issue tracker. Naturally, I never reached out to burntsushi -- I don't have anything to complain about!

> When I was a young adult, I'd pride myself on being “logical” and “free of emotional decision making.” Like all good lies we tell to ourselves, there's a kernel of truth to it. But for the most part, at least for me personally, I am a deeply emotional being.

I wonder if this is in part related to getting older. When I was younger, I was into being logical myself. But as best I can tell, that was true for myself back then: I cared about work progressing effectively, and in my mind the best to achieve that was through direct, blunt communication. When I was on the receiving end of that, I was happy about it. Now that I'm older and have kids, I do think a lot more about how to say things. It does make working with people who are exactly like I was a bit slower, but it increases the pool of people I can collaborate with. So it's worth it (...I tell myself).

> Rudeness, on the other hand, comes in all shapes and sizes: “Just chiming in to say that I would also really like this feature.”

This is a great example. From the side of the person leaving this comment, it feels so innocuous! "I'm just saying I'd like this too. Ignore me if you want, I'm just adding a harmless data point." But from the side of the person who's getting tens of these messages, it feels so very draining.


Andrew, if you're reading this! I use ripgrep every single day and it has never failed me. Thank you for all your hard work! It's nothing short of incredible.

Regards, A very happy user


Communicating expectations / setting boundaries feels key to avoiding negativity on both sides.

I recently read an article titled "Healthy Open Source Maintenance"[1], which proposed the introduction of a MAINTENANCE_MANIFESTO.md, meant to communicate expectations.

Quoting the fun part:

"Even though this idea is still in early stages, for the sake of clarity, this is what a selection of manifestos could look like:

- The sponsor me to get priority on your bug fix manifesto.

- The this is free goods and service, so you get what you get manifesto.

- The micro-donations to keep the project alive, but I decide what to work on manifesto.

- The hire the agency I work for to sponsor features manifesto.

The presence of the Healthy Maintainer Manifesto will be a tool to deflect social pressure. This will help maintainers that suffer from avoidance anxiety because they are not obligated to pay the maintenance taxes. Their manifesto says so! If any demanding user wants to pressure them into doing anything in particular, they can point them to the manifesto. The manifesto replaces complicated social interactions with a discharge form. The goal of this is to protect the maintainer, because, after all, maintainers are the cornerstone of open source—and thus all the software industry. And because we all prefer a community where maintainers are happy, and not at the brink of burnout."

[1] https://www.lullabot.com/articles/healthy-open-source-mainte...


I think offering only a bug tracker and no forum can contribute to some of these problems.

I only create an issue in a bug tracker for bugs or change request. The interaction feels impersonal.

On the other hand with a forum you get more of a community feel. There might be a subforum for writing about your experience with the software (so you get positive feedback) and one where users help each other, with the maintainer only chiming in occasionally.


Dear BurntSushi, thank you for your hard work and ripgrep which I use on a daily basis. Ignore the trolls and dismiss the people that take more than they give.


These issues aren't specific to FOSS, just ask Shareware authors or website maintainers. From personal experience and other such stories, I suspect they are also more frustrating if one's motives aren't exclusively altruistic or professional, i.e. if one craves the attention a little too much. The whole FOSS scene seems to me to be too much about other issues than quality software lately (10-15 years or so).


Andrew (burntsushi) is a tech leader. He's got a huge heart and a whole lot of grit. I see him enduring as a high-profile open source project author. How many battles a day does one accept before reprioritizing life decisions? One too many strained interactions takes a toll on anyone. No matter how much grit someone has, everyone has a limit defining how much is worth enduring.

Andrew should not have to deflect burning arrows fired in his direction on a regular basis, and when they are fired he needs be able to cut them down before they make a mark. Further, while he has developed the required skills, his counterparts haven't. I remember an interaction I had with Andrew where he mistook something I said as a flaming arrow and acted accordingly. Realizing this, I immediately considered how what I said could be misinterpreted and did not take offense to his reaction. His situation is far different from mine and he's fighting battles I can only imagine.

For his sake, and that of others, there needs to be a concerted effort to address the difficulties that open source authors are dealing with. In an organization, an employer facilitates various types of training to help employees navigate challenging situations. Ethics and professional conduct are learned, as well as conflict resolution. I've taken such training a number of times and continue to learn from them. There is a huge chasm between knowing and doing, though, so hands-on training is required to internalize these skills.

I propose a concerted effort to provide "soft skill" training for the technology community. Users and authors of open source will benefit. I realize that this alone will be insufficient but it is one concrete step that can be taken in the immediate future to begin to address challenges that many people are having.


@burntsushi I use ripgrep all the time. I was also able to learn how to go from 0 to release just by reading through your codebase and documentation to see what goes into a release. When I was writing my foss project I asked myself wwbsd (what would burntsushi do). Even stumbled onto how to create and maintain a homebrew tap thanks to you. I appreciate you and the work you put out, thanks!


I see that ripgrep is dual license by MIT license and the Unlicense. I suppose that might be a reasonable way to do it. All of my software is I release it as public domain, but maybe the dual license might help. A variant I have seen is a program that uses MIT license, but it also says that any Discordian pope (which is anyone) is allowed to grant themself a license to use it by WTFPL (which effectively makes it as public domain, even if it isn't).

Free time is unscheduled is I think reasonable and it make sense. But also you might have nothing to change for some time, so until then there would not have any next release.

I write many programs too, but rarely get any comments, whether positive or negative or neutral. (One exception is my "bystand" NNTP client; I have received a patch to make it work on BSD, and some bug fixes, which I have accepted.)

And to write a FAQ document, I think you would need to know the questions.


If you want your code to be maximally useable, slap an MIT or BSD license on it. Anything else is commentary; the Discordian pope one makes me smile, to be sure.

But yeah, public domain isn't well-defined internationally, so MIT and public domain is more permissive than just public domain, in practice.


> But as anyone who has been a FOSS maintainer can attest, positive comments are almost always dwarfed by negative comments.

This sounds really weird to me. It's not the first time it's been said either, but my experiences being a FOSS maintainer (for some reasonably popular projects) aren't at all dwarfed by negative comments. In my experiences, the comments are almost universally along the lines of "How do I do X?" and "Thanks!".

Thinking it over, there have been 2 instances I'd consider rude in the last few years. One was just... someone being overly demanding, the other was (I think) just a young person not used to being told No. ;)

Nothing else negative comes to mind.

My point is that being an OSS maintainer isn't automatically something like the author describes. Some Communities are nice, and the people help each other out authentically. :)


Thanks burntsushi for this and all your work on FOSS. There's one thing that I'd be interested to hear about that's not in the blog post -- stuff to do with how your FOSS involvement and your professional life impact each other. Ultimately it's zero-sum: 24hrs in a day. Do you often find you much prefer working on your side-projects than on your day job? Do you think you'd be a more productive / more engaged / deeper contributor in your day job if it weren't for the side projects? Or is it more that your love of software would suffer if it weren't for the side projects and hence you'd actually be a worse employee? Perhaps those three sentences are bit facile, but hopefully the question is clear.


Good question. I don't want to dig too deep into it, but at this point in time, I really enjoy the diversity. The stuff I do at work and the stuff I do in FOSS are fairly different and exercise different portions of my brain. I think I fundamentally enjoy having that difference, although it's hard to say for sure.

Even just restricting in to FOSS, I will often oscillate between different projects in order to keep things fresh and avoid burning out. For example, almost a year ago, I started working on a rewrite of one of my Rust libraries. I hit a thorny problem and my motivation waned, so I moved on to something else. I've just recently moved back to continue my rewrite, now almost a year later, with renewed vigor.


While I highly appreciate the contribution Burnt Sushi made, I've personally gone through a not so great experience contributing to one of Burnt Sushi's repositories.

I personally think a major issue is he may have over-stretched in terms of the repos he sought to create and support as a maintainer. He has 140 public repos many of them significant. As his interests, shifted I have experienced that the pace of reviewing and responding to comments and pull requests became really slow and ultimately led to frustration among contributors as well.

Might have been better to clearly prioritize and state which repositories he planned to support and which not and possibly either hand over ownership or mark the repo he didn't intend to support as orphaned.


Stop expecting that of him. He wrote the code, and open sourced it. He doesn't owe it to you or anyone to say that he doesn't care about it anymore, though doing so would be a nicety. It's open source. If you feel he isn't maintaining something, fork it and own it. Or pay him to.


Going against the grain here, but, why so sensitive? A simple suggestion is not an insult, a sign of unthankfulness, or in itself denigrating the author's efforts.

I got the same vibe from the article TBH, a lot of what he considers rude just seems like well intentioned, if possibly misunderstood, suggestions.

Consider that even filing a bug report is an effort 95% of users would never make. So even doing that is in most cases a contribution, at least as seen from the point of view of the submitter. But the author actually considers it an affront if it doesn't conform to the bug report template.

With the disclaimer that I have never maintained a highly popular GitHub repo, I get a lot of feedback for my projects that is unuseable, and some that is aggravating. I always have the option of simply ignoring it, and that's the end of that interaction. Perhaps the author is not actually good at setting boundaries and ends up blaming others for imposing.


> Consider that even filing a bug report is an effort 95% of users would never make. So even doing that is in most cases a contribution, at least as seen from the point of view of the submitter. But the author actually considers it an affront if it doesn't conform to the bug report template

This was not the vibe I meant to express. I'm sorry it came across that way. I meant to express how it made me _feel_. The next paragraph goes on to say how such issues are eminently reasonable in a lot of cases, and my coming to terms with that is a struggle I face.

My goal was to explain my own perspective in the hope that it increases understanding of everyone involved.

> Perhaps the author is not actually good at setting boundaries and ends up blaming others for imposing.

I tried really hard to leave blame out of my article (for anyone other than myself). That is not how I feel. On the contrary, as I mentioned in my article, setting boundaries is exactly what has helped me so much.


The problem is not the "expectation" of ownership. The problem is in lack of clarity in communication. For whatever reason (usually because they're very good), a lot of Andrew's libraries became very popular in the Go world. If his interests have changed to Rust, all he needs to have done is say so.


I'm not faulting you for your expectations, please see my other comment for thought on that. The problem is that even expecting that is more free labor. Sure it's small, and courteous, but is labor. Speaking from experience, I go through weird phases where I want to hide from the world. I know things suffer for it, but it's me. And even writing a short note to let people know is not on my radar as something I care about.

I hope you don't take my comments as combative, I'm trying to speak from experience. I also learned of Mr. Gallant from being on the Go code review lists. I also noticed he seemed to "switch" to Rust. With that knowledge, anything I used heavily I would fork. If one day the two can reconcile, great. If not, congratulations, you own it until you get tired of it and someone else forks it. Such is the nature of open source!


> even expecting that is more free labor

Mentioning that you don't intend to maintain a project is not "labour".


Deciding that you don't intend to maintain a project is labor. This sort of decision is hard to make and extremely hard to undo. Much easier to keep thinking, "I'll get to it next month."


Is it hard to undo? How so?

If you don't look at any PR in the next 3/6 months, mark it unsupported.


You don't think forking would be considered rude?


Depends on whether the upstream project is still active, and whether your fork is targeting the same audience.

eg If you fork the code where the upstream project is obviously still active, and your changes target the same audience as the original (eg not taking in a new/experimental direction), then it could be rude.

However, if the upstream repo is no longer active the upstream authors may even happy to have someone picking up the leadership role for that particular project.


That was my thought about the "Dealing via Boundaries" section. The solution of "defer some maintainer responsibilities to someone else" never came up. When you insist that you have to do everything by yourself, you are creating that massive asymmetry between users and maintainers.


> "defer some maintainer responsibilities to someone else"

I have of course done this many times across different projects. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. It isn't the silver bullet you portray it to be. Nevermind the risks involved due to supply chain attacks.


good point!


This sense of entitlement is specifically addressed in the post.


Sort of. But, the most egregious form of entitlement is low-effort.

Whereas "the account has too many prominent repositories to accept contributions to in a reliable manner" lowers trust (which the burntsushi post also discusses).

It's as fair to say "I don't trust the project because it isn't maintained" as it is to say "the code is free, the maintainer's time is not". - I think this is exasperated by that "just fork it" works in a small sense for one or two patches; but there's a communal inertia that complicates it in a larger sense.


Buddy I made an actual contribution taking the trouble to understand the codebase and contributing a feature which was in the spec but not in his library. If Andrew didn't have time to address it as his interests were changing or whatever, he could have clearly stated it upfront in which case I probably would have picked a different library to invest in.

Characterizing this as "sense of entitlement" in a one liner is quite uncalled for.


A contribution to an open source project is a gift with a hundred strings attached.

In most cases it's a request for more of the maintainer's time to review, fix, and merge a change which they themselves likely don't need (otherwise they would have added it). In my experience, at least 80% of the time I end up spending more time and effort on accepting someone's change than I would have writing it myself. It only becomes net-positive when a contributor has a long-lived interest in the project and turns out to be a capable maintainer with similar sensibilities; even then there is significant ramp-up time. 99% of the time this doesn't happen; most contributions are drive-bys.

P.S. It so happens that that we previously interacted on that very PR thread: https://github.com/BurntSushi/toml/pull/65#issuecomment-1919...


> P.S. It so happens that that we previously interacted on that very PR thread:

Yup. I recognized your username and note that our interaction happened over a year after the original pull request discussion with no response from the repo owner.

> In my experience, at least 80% of the time I end up spending more time and effort on accepting someone's change than I would have writing it myself

Sure but the general culture and expectation in open source is when people find bugs or create features, as good citizens they share the changes upstream. If what you want to do is "throw the code over" or you've lost interest in developing further, all you need to do is to say that as common courtesy to your fellow open source developer especially if like in this case a lot of people use it. Lots of repos do this and clearly stated deprecation.


@cespare Which section?


This should have been solved ages ago but it isn't. What is the problem with allowing repositories with specific licenses or label to be transferered to contributors after certain length of inactivity?

The one contributing the most gets notified to accept or deny the request.


> What is the problem with allowing repositories with specific licenses or label to be transferered to contributors after certain length of inactivity?

This is unworkable for a large number of reasons. But it's also largely beside the point. If the code is available under a permissive license and is not being maintained, fork it.


Security is the main issue: you can’t just give away control of a widely used tool without vetting the new maintainer because that would open all your users to malicious code.


You aren't giving control to unknown people here. You are giving it to good contributors who you have added personally. We can still have a system where core contributors can vote on someone accepting the request or author can disable this feature.

How many people vet the author before installing something from npm? If you trust someone because they have some code that looks good, then shouldn't you trust contributors who have good code in there too.

How many points of cracks are there in the dependencies of dependency?

If it's a widely used tool then author wouldn't go inactive for a year without doing something unless they are not getting paid or even acknowledged for their efforts.

If people like security, then pin and mirror your dependencies. Don't update without checking them.


My point was that the maintainer shouldn’t give up maintenance unless they trust the new maintainer, so we agree. (I did misread your original post, but I think it can’t be just any contributor)


Could I use this opportunity to ask a more general question: What are your incentives and goals when creating and maintaining open source projects? I appreciate this sounds a little disillusioned, but after creating a number of reasonably succesful projects (http://golden-layout.com/, https://deepstream.io/, earlier https://wolframhempel.github.io/photobooth-js/) and I still can't find a fully satisfying answer.


It should be possible to block people on Gh in the same way blocking on Twitter works. So they can't access your repos anymore when logged in. That would help a lot of the rude people to learn.


> But other projects begin to pile up with issues and pull requests. The inbox gets longer. Each day you see a new issue come in, and you say to yourself, “yes, I will really look at it this time once I get home from work.” But more just keep coming in. Eventually you work up the motivation to context switch back into that project because That User has pinged you once a month for four months and their pull request is probably Really Important.

That's my software development experience in a nutshell.


In my experience the bug tracker is always full of reports that are ignored or forgotten. Even a closed project with dedicated staff and limits on who can file bugs, it's unlikely that all bugs get triaged much less resolved..

In big projects, it's less problematic because it's never your failure, it's the entire teams failure :)

But this idea that you can respond to all issues won't scale very far.

As the author says we need to set boundaries. Maybe sometimes we're too nice in trying to respond to all bugs...


> There is no legal relationship here. There is nothing in my licenses that say I ought or have to do this. At least for me, it's an implied agreement among humans acting in good faith.

It's important to remember this. Many developers maintain software because they personally care about the projects, not because they have customers. They can always just drop everything and let the community deal with it, no questions asked.


For awesome FOSS projects, like ripgrep, I wish there was a way to donate praise or goodwill, in addition to donating money. In other words, people can write in a special area dedicated to words of appreciation and gratitude. All those FOSS maintainers need to know just how much positivity there is.

Obviously it won't fix the damage of those who are rude or entitled, but perhaps it'll help provide a boost.


I appreciate the intent here! For positive vibes, I think emails or social media is good. But for money, I'm not sure it would work for me. I'm just going to copy what I wrote in r/rust[1]:

---

I think the various things people are trying to do to fund open source contributors and maintainers is a great thing. I love what GitHub is doing with its sponsorships and encourage folks to use that if it helps them.

But for me, I do not want money to get involved with what is right now a volunteer activity that I perform exclusively in my free time. If I accepted money, then at least for me personally, it would magnify a lot of the problems I struggle with in my blog post. I do not want that.

If folks insist, then I generally advocate donating it to a cause they find important. The ones I like are Wikipedia, The Internet Archive and Rails Girls.

---

[1] - https://old.reddit.com/r/rust/comments/er4qrn/my_foss_story/...


When a project reaches a certain level of activity, maybe the solution is to find people to help with e.g. triaging issue. It seems a waste that the core maintainer is having to back-and-forth with people to get them to fill out the bug reports fully; and willing contributor could probably do that without needing core-dev expertise.


This post reminds me very much of my own writing last year where I covered several of the same topics, https://blog.alexellis.io/the-5-pressures-of-leadership/

Hope this also resonates with you Andrew.


I appreciate the author's self-knowledge and honesty, as well as the quality software.

My own motivations in open source have been a bit different (and sometimes conflicted), and my experiences and perceptions also a bit different, but a lot is the same.


Just here to add the chorus of ripgrep fans. Was initially skeptical that it'd be worth switching from the extremely available and basically functional find / xargs, but having switched I absolutely wouldn't want to be without rg.


Great post, just keep doing what you're doing! I, for one, have a ton of respect for the work that you do and the projects that you've created. I've never been the steward of a super popular project, but I can imagine it must be demanding.


Being a maintainer means that you often have to deal with things when they go wrong. This can lead to the wrong perception that everyone dislikes you and your software while in fact it's the opposite.


I, for one, when I read burtnshushi's blog on its design, I switched to rg and never looked back (had used pt, ag, and grep in that order before).

And xsv has been a standard work tool.


(wanna be, old man Rust hacker here)

  If I *EVER* write a piece of code that's .1% as good as RipGrep, I'll feel like a damned Superstar.


In terms of a practical takeaway, how much would FOSS maintainer's lives be improved if you could actually require a runnable example before filing a bug?


How many bugs would never get reported? Not saying it is a bad idea, but not all bugs are so clear.


I've never heard of an AGPL project being beset by entitled leechers... granted the license doesn't really matter with end-user applications.


Your `xgb` and `xgbutil` libraries did exactly what I needed, and helped me write a nifty little window management utility for myself. Thanks!


It’s quite a tome, and I’m glad to see a lot of these topics covered. Not sure how many folks will read it, though.

I too, tend towards “prolix” (you can see that in my HN comments), and have often been told “TL;DR.”

I’ve been writing FOSS stuff for a couple of decades, and can relate to pretty much all of it.

But I keep writing it. No intention to stop.

I tend to write for a pretty tough crowd. It’s helped me to get comfortable with the fact that I only do this for my own reasons, and I’m glad to help others, but I don’t need their approval.

I write Swift code, these days. Has some similarities to Rust.


A great read, thanks!

I use ripgrep and xsv daily at work - thank you Andrew aka burntsushi for sharing your code!


Lesson (not?) learnt: choose your audience. Choose what crowd you want to hang out with.


> How much time did that user just waste because of the bug?

I've run my fair share of OSS over the years and had negative comments, rude bug reports, unconstructive API complaints etc. At my feelings about this specifically have evolved to: Fuck 'em it's free.


A consummate professional.


This resonates with me on every level. Great article.


the standard response to every unhelpful communication to a FOSS project should be either silence or a "Fk Off".


I don't really understand why anyone would do FOSS, beyond the ideological. Most of the problems of this person come from the fact that he has no financial incentive / means to quit his current job and focus on / grow his project. I feel like I read this exact same story from different people each month of HN.


With respect to this post specifically, their reasons are clearly presented in a billeted list at the end, along with a warning that their brevity is not representative of their frequency.


> I don't really understand why anyone would do FOSS, beyond the ideological.

Two big incentives that you see in most human activities:

* build something for other people

* try to be recognized

Money is a tool to make society work, it isn't really what people live for. People inherently want to contribute to society.


I get paid to <shrug>.

When I didn't, it was a fun hobby. One that lead directly to my job, so there's another incentive for you. Enjoying oneself is also quite sufficient.

There's a significant and growing free-rider problem with open source software, but your not understanding why people do FOSS is on you. It's not difficult to understand.


shared QA, eyeballs on code, consultancy funnel, freemium software, simple ego kicks, getting a proof-of-concept in front of a bunch of people interested in that specific sort of thing, the list goes on...

FOSS, itself, is the necessary lego kit the entire web (and to a lesser extent mobile and desktop etc) rns on... are you suggesting that everyone go buy Coldfusion or ATG Dynamo? the 90's called and want their time machine back...


Steady revenue stream, financial incentives and unlimited initial ways to monetize your venture beat your entire list, which are definitely not necessary for a successful project, given by the numerous non-FOSS successes in the real world.

I honestly don't care that people work for free, it just saddens me that it takes so long for these people to realize how important financial incentives are. It is clear as day that this model rarely produces any financial results for the developer, even if people and companies are actively using and profiting from your work. That stuff seriously makes me wanna puke.

The reason why it doesn't work is because it violates a very basic business principle. You don't wait for someone to "give" you money for your product, because noone is going to do that. As a manager it is incredibly painful for me to go through the entire chain of command to give you money "for maintenance". Instead you should "take" it by making me wanna buy it.

The strawman part of your argument i will avoid, since it is a clear nonsensical trap.




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