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Ash Furrow @ashfurrow

Open source maintainers should diffuse responsibility early, and often. Add new contributors, give contributors push rights, empower existing contributors to keep contributing.

It's hard, because we start open source projects usually because we like to write code for them. But once it becomes a community, our priorities need to shift from coding to helping others code. It's uncomfortable.

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And there's ego involved, too. Like, there's a part of my brain that says diffusing responsibility means I'm less important to the project. And yeah, I am. That's the point.

Being a single point of failure for an open source community is not healthy, leads to burnout, and puts the health of the community at risk.

I'm speaking about this topic at a conference next week, going to be a great talk! So don't, like, assume these are subtoots.

I've written about this before, too:

As the founding maintainer, you are the biggest existential threat to your open source project.

Build a community, not a codebase.

@ashfurrow good point. And, imo, true for every software project.

@ashfurrow can you give a guide to how to add new contributors? I've been trying so hard to recruit for my project but I can't seem to do it right. And you're a really knowledgeable person and I'm desperate enough to ask for help on Mastodon now.

I've tried talking about my project on IRC (which got me testers and users, but no devs), Reddit (which got me testers and someone to donate me hardware to test on, but no devs), and Birdside (which got me a tester, but no devs).

@awilfox that's tricky, I have a policy where I'll add someone as a contributor after it first merged pull request. It makes them feel welcome and increases the likelihood that they'll contribute in the future. Having a "fit for newcomers" issue tag can help too. I'm here if you ever want to chat – good luck 👍

@ashfurrow I have yet to have a pull request, even as the number of interested users and testers nears 50.

Tagging issues as "easy for newcomers" is a good idea. Thanks!