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If it's anything you expect other people to use, then I'd consider anything that hasn't been updated in the past year "abandoned", yeah.

If it's your personal projects though, I don't make that assumption.

I have several projects that haven't been updated in more than a year which are still maintained in the sense that if there are bugs, I fix them. They are rarely touched for a simple reason: They do what they're meant to, and they still work.

I wish more software took that approach. Far too often software quality drops after a while as developers keep piling on the features.

Abandoned or stable? If it has no dependencies and a small feature set, it may just be done. "Stable" is a good thing.

Let me give a more concrete example: if something was developed in Rails 3 but was not updated for Rails 4, then I assume it won't work (I'm on Rails 4.1).

This doesn't mean the entire project needs to be re-written. Often times, a simple note that says "compatible with Rails 4" would be satisfactory.

But if even the readme is not updated, that makes it difficult for me to put any faith in it. And unfortunately there are tons of projects like that on GitHub.

That's a fine example. It has dependencies, the dependencies change quickly, so the project needs updating.

Let me give a counter-example. PriorityQueue is a data structure implementation published as a Ruby gem in 2005: https://rubygems.org/gems/PriorityQueue/versions/0.1.2. It has not been updated since, because it doesn't need to be. It just works. (It could use better docs, but even that would be a one-time change.)

Similarly, I have a gem that helps build searches with ORMs - https://github.com/nathanl/searchlight. It doesn't directly depend on any ORM, just the "chained method calls to build queries" interface that they implement. That means I don't need to update it when ActiveRecord or Sequel or Mongoid gets a new feature. Which means I commit far less often. I consider it feature complete and only make bug fixes, which should eventually stop.

At that point, it may look abandoned, but it won't be. Just stable. Which I consider a good thing.

The Gemspec should have an upper limit on major Rails versions as a general best-practice.

But yeah, this happens all the time in this space.

Unfortunately, Rails APIs change a lot more than the time-trusted POSIX APIs.

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