A few years back I wrote about my experiences contributing to and maintaining open source projects. Since then, I’ve done my share of forking, pull requesting and even starting up new projects that people are forking and pull requesting. I make a very conscious effort to contribute to projects that I use and from time to time, even ones I don’t use but I wanted to help them out.
The thing is, people still treat open source as a fucking flea market for code. Why? Probably a combination of being lazy or just being selfish and entitled little pieces of shit.
Recently I had an issue opened on a project that I help with. They were requesting some feature. Sure, the feature would be nice to have, but since it wasn’t accompanied by a pull request here’s what I heard:
Love the project! It’s so awesome that it’s free because we’re using it in an application that is making us all of the monies. Know what would be cool as hell? If you added this feature that we need. Since you already devalued your time by releasing this as open source, I assume you don’t mind adding that in for us. kthxbai!
I’m sure the person that requested the feature wasn’t nearly that daft or oblivious and felt that making their suggestion was their way of contributing. Except we’re living in a world where ideas don’t mean jack shit without the ability to execute on them. Nice try, include a pull request next time!
The way I look at it, if the person that made the request was browsing code on GitHub, there is a very high liklihood that they possess the skills necessarily to be able to fork the project and contribute to it. Hell, even if they aren’t all that apt, they can still try and then reach out for some direction or whatever.
I get it though, open source is a way to speed up your development time. I’ve spent at least a few evenings comparing projects that all do the same thing to find the one that best fits my needs. Hell, most of those nights have resulted in me forking a project and adding the functionality I need. I was still able to save time AND was able to contribute.
Next time you are thinking of submitting a feature request for an open source project… don’t. Seriously, just don’t. Take a small bit of extra time and implement the feature you want. If everyone would do that, a lot of existing projects would be a bajillion times better instead of having a bajillion open issues that the core maintainers will probably never get around to.