There are countless initiatives today aimed at helping more developers contribute to open source projects. These efforts are widely championed as "good for open source," and they are frequently accomplished by tapping into a public sense of goodwill.
However, in speaking to maintainers privately, I learned that these initiatives frequently cause them to seize with anxiety, because such initiatives often attract low-quality contributions. This creates more work for maintainers—all contributions, after all, must be reviewed before they are accepted. Maintainers frequently lack infrastructure to bring these contributors into a "contributor community"; in many cases, there is no community behind the project at all, only individual efforts.
In my conversations with maintainers, I heard them express a genuine conflict between wanting to encourage newcomers to participate in open source and feeling unable to personally take on that work. Maintainers simply don't have the energy to onboard every person who shows passing interest. Many told me they were frustrated by prior attempts to cater to a revolving door of contributors—sometimes hundreds of them—who didn't stick around. Maintainers recounted how those who'd expressed interest sometimes disappeared before they'd even submitted their first contribution.
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- Finished: ~Dec 25, 2022
- More from this year: 2022