Dear open source users,

If the author of your favorite open source app has announced they stopped developing and supporting the app (because they're frustrated and possibly burned out), please don't suggest they do more free work so that you can continue using the app.
Instead, consider thanking them for their past work and let them know that you enjoyed their app.

another open source developer


@cketti Yes. And also: If the tool they built mattered to you, maybe not just move along trying to look for "another alternative" but actually trying to figure out how to keep that alive, how to revive, fork, maintain, fund, ... a process that keeps this project from fading away because the lead developer had to pull out of it? In the end, a lot of this current dispute feels much more like consumerism than real "FLOSS community". 😟

@z428 @cketti The harsh reality is that people might depend on the software, so indeed in that case just saying "thanks" and moving on is not the best option. Someone has to pick up the mantle.

@csepp Agreed. But ... I bluntly think it needs both awareness and preparation on both ends. It needs "customers" or users that pay attention to what they use. But maybe it also needs developers who think about things such as, well, "continuity" or scalability. Like: Who or how to handle situations of load? How to fix that security issue that can't be postponed while you're on vacation? That kind of stuff. One-man-shows aren't a good idea here it seems. Communities could help here.


@csepp @z428 That sounds like a problem of the people depending on the software, rather than that of the original developer. You can't expect enterprise-level support for having paid 5 bucks (or nothing at all).

@cketti @z428 Well, it has a bit more layers than that. First, the user might not be aware of the risks. The license is not enough IMHO, after a certain adoption threshold, if the readme doesn't communicate the (lack of) support or stability, then the fault partially lies with the project lead(s).

It's like feeding birds. If they get used to it and then you take away the bird feeder on a whim, it's not the bird's fault. Obviously that's an exaggeration, but hopefully you get what I mean.

@cketti @z428
This isn't an all-or-nothing problem by the way. There are a lot more options than just "enterprise level support" and "project developed for the lulz and abandoned out of the blue".

Like, if the dev is burning out, they can communicate that before they completely give up on the project.

@cketti @z428 To clarify, the situation described in the OP is bad, I agree, having users shout insults at a burned out dev is bad and it should avoided.
But there are multiple ways to avoid it.

@csepp @z428 Developers generally don't trick people into depending on their software. If you do depend on it, that was your choice. If you didn't foresee that the software might be abandoned at some point, that's on you. Really, that's not specific to FOSS at all.

But with open source software you at least still have the source code and can continue development (or pay someone to do it for you).

@cketti @z428
> that's on you
I find that assigning blame is less useful than trying to figure out how to avoid the problem. 🤷
No one claimed anyone is being tricked, the point I was trying to make (maybe badly), is that it's possible to communicate issues in advance, before they pile up.

And yup, it's not specific to FOSS, all projects should be transparent about their sustainability. That only reinforces that issues should be communicated in advance, whatever their nature may be.

@cketti @z428
Also maybe I underestimate people, but I don't think developers have a clear perspective on how well regular folks understand how software projects are developed.
Realistically, just complaining about their lack of understanding won't make most of them understand. The most effective way to make this information reach them is via the channels where they read about updates and docs.

@csepp @z428

> That only reinforces that issues should be communicated in advance, whatever their nature may be.

You're asking for people who already basically work for free to do even more work, so that you aren't inconvenienced too much.
I'd say you can certainly hope for that, but you shouldn't expect it, much less demand it.

@cketti @z428
Adding a simple sentence to a readme is not a lot of effort. 🤷
Nor is writing a short "hey i'm having difficulties, don't expect a new release any time soon".
And no, that's not why I'm asking. *I* understand software development. A random person who downloads [insert software name] from a repo (or even from an official project page) might not. I hoped that was clear.
Devs and users alike are not exempt from societal norms or having to communicate and listen.

@cketti @z428
IMHO preventing contributor burnout is a more important problem than treating it after it already happened, simply because prevention is nearly always the better solution to any given problem.
If the dev feels like they are expected to do free work, they can lessen the expectation by telling their users they can't work on the project, instead of working on the project until they burn out.

@cketti @z428 Obviously they can just quit the project at any time too. But it's probably better for everyone involved if doesn't abruptly come to that. At least that's how I see it.

@z428 @csepp You can armchair figure this issue out all you want, at the end of the day the work needs to be done by someone™. You don't get to choose that someone, you don't get to choose their communication strategy or eventual lack thereof, and you don't get to tell them what they should have done afterwards.

Like @cketti said, all you said is right, but it's wishful thinking in the case of open source because the work itself needs to be rewarding on its own, and if some devs don't do this kind of preventative work, it's because they don't find it rewarding in itself, no matter where it may lead them down the line.

I'm grateful #Friendica has someone like @heluecht trudging along day in and day out because my own contributions have been inconsistent to keep them rewarding, and I wouldn't be able to sustain the project on my own. However, I'm not sure what kind of preventative work we could do to keep Michael trudging along, so far he's been wonderful keeping at it, but almost everything rests on his shoulders.

Does it mean Friendica is doomed if he ever quits for any reason? Absolutely, and I don't believe there's anyone that can prevent that, short of doing all the work Michael is doing by himself without any other reward than the work itself.
@hypolite @z428 @csepp @cketti Well, I think that everyone is replaceable. I saw it in our company. Over the last years we often had situations where coworkers left and we thought: "Now we are doomed! No one know that product, the customers will kill us!". Until now this hadn't happen.

Concerning the reward: recently I received several kilograms of chocolate from a user. So that's fine 😀
@heluecht @z428 @csepp @cketti Your company pays you and your coworkers to do your job. So the work itself doesn't need to be rewarding, including taking over a project not knowing anything about it. In the case of Friendica, we don't award any specific compensation from the project itself, so you definitely aren't replaceable in that regard.

@hypolite I don't really disagree but think you missed my point. A lot of FLOSS advocates, these days, still claim people should choose FLOSS software instead of proprietary offerings also because FLOSS is more "sustainable" and doesn't leave you at the mercy of a corporation that might discontinue a service at any given time. I wonder whether at this point we should either be more honest (and stating that this is the same or maybe even worse for ... 1/2

@heluecht @cketti @csepp

@hypolite ... projects driven exclusively by individual volunteer enthusiasts in their spare time) and/or try to strive for actually _getting_ to a point where this sustainability is even possible. Like: What would it take to make FairEMail, Friendica, Pleroma, Diaspora, ... more "sustainable" than, in example, Twitter or Flickr that have been around for 10+ years...? 2/2

@heluecht @cketti @csepp

@hypolite @z428 @csepp @cketti Friendica is a good example. It has been created by Mike Macgirvin. But several years ago he decided to leave the project for a new one. But other people took over. Same happened with Statusnet that developed into GNU Social. Also none of the original Diaspora developers are still active. Several years ago the community took over.

With commercial systems you can't take over a project when there is the danger that it will shut down. With open source projects you can take over the project.

@heluecht Yes. But GNUSocial also is a good example for what I meant: For most people I, in example, know on Twitter or Flickr, they have had "stable" accounts and reasonable stable networks there for > 10, in cases for > 15 years. I know _very_ little (no?) people that have been active with a stable crowd for that long in any of the open networks, no matter whether, gnusocial or Diaspora, let alone using this as their main means of communication... 😐

@hypolite @csepp @cketti

@hypolite @z428 @csepp @cketti I had an account on Google+ and on I used both very intensive and there had been a nice community. but the companies behind those two systems decided to shut the service down.

@heluecht Yeah, was thinking Google+ too (or the myspace decline). Not suggesting that this can't happen with corporate players, but point is that it is not _not_ going to happen with more open systems either. That's what sort of concerns me. Or, well, no, "concern" is a wrong word. It feels a bit sad because "we"(?) could possibly do better here.

@hypolite @csepp @cketti

@heluecht @hypolite @z428 @csepp @cketti Never use Corporate Internet. I stopped using Google 2013 die to Snowdens discoveries.


GNUsocial has been pretty much on its way down with ActivityPub and Mastodon around. My instance has closed down a few years ago. Similar things seem to happen to Diaspora at the moment, for the same reason. Who should I possibly have donated to? The developer of the software? The admin running that particular instance back then? What kind of impact would my donation have made do change that (or even to prevent right that from happening)?

@heluecht @hypolite @csepp @cketti

@heluecht @z428 @csepp @cketti The simple answer is that it would take a particular astral alignment. FLOSS is organic, with a mostly horizontal structure that doesn't allow for central planning at all. More generally, nothing can be expected to last forever, neither corporate platforms nor FLOSS alternatives, so a better question should be "what kind of platform do I want to be on right now" and "what is my contingency plan is when the platform I'm on inevitably declines/disappears?".

The story of Google+ is a good example both of a corporate platform disappearing, and of the flexibility of its former users who found their solace again, either on the Fediverse or elsewhere. Your home on the Social Internet may move, but at the end of the day you're still you.

@hypolite How did we manage to get things such as Wikipedia, Debian or larger GNU/Linux distributions to "fly"? Of course at least Linux, too, is suffering from fragmentation and having way too many different "just because" - reimplementations of virtually everything, but maybe in the last couple of years we just unlearnt how to focus on shared goals? I'm not sure here, and maybe this sounds more harsh than it is intended to, yet still it feels quite ... weird.

@heluecht @csepp @cketti

@witchescauldron I'm not really sure, to be honest. Not even sure which side to start with... Maybe the FLOSS movement has aged poorly because some of its ideas and approaches don't work that well anymore in days of ? Maybe, worse, current FLOSS to quite some point has even made ethically disputable business models possible in the first place?

@hypolite @heluecht @csepp @cketti

@heluecht @z428 @csepp @cketti That's an obvious question, but I'd like to ask you another one to provide some perspective. For each stable project like Wikipedia or main Linux distributions, how many other projects didn't make it? We weren't better at focusing on shared goals before, it just that only the memory of surviving projects remains from that time. It's called survivor bias and it often leads to the wrong conclusions regarding the success of any endeavor.

I get your need for stability, but so much of success is about being at the right time in the right place that individual behavior matters very little in the long run, so the best you can do is cheer on the projects you like and plan for a move if they fall apart.

@hypolite @heluecht @z428 @csepp @cketti

that's a total passive view of social change/challenge

Are you a fan of #pomo am cureuse about people who think like this - it's very #mainstreaming while often seemingly being radical.

It's kinda why we are in such a mess I think, what do you think?

@heluecht @z428 @witchescauldron @csepp @cketti I don’t know what POMO means (post-modernism? I’m still not familiar with the concept) but what I know for sure is that it isn’t “kinda why we are in such a mess”. It doesn’t even matter what kind of mess you are talking about, it is such a simplistic take it can’t be right.

What I am suggesting is to do whatever you can at your level and not worry too much about the grand scheme of things because of both the complexity to grasp (and the obvious pitfalls associated with it when biases and fallacies kick in to replace actual understanding) and the limited agency at the individual level.

I joined Friendica in 2016 specifically because I could contribute code to it, and we’ve made strides in code quality and stability since thanks in part to my work. But contribution isn't limited to code, we have plenty of tasks that can be accomplished by non-devs like translating the interface, running a public node, reporting bugs, spreading the word, sending chocolate to Michael…

But I also know this project is precarious. It doesn’t prevent me from working on it though.

@hypolite @heluecht @z428 @witchescauldron @cketti
re: "Do what you can"
That's pretty much what I said, just focused on the communication aspect. 🙃
Like you said, "do what you can" should also be taken to apply to non-code contributions, including writing docs, helping out on issue trackers, and keeping the community healthy. If it improves things, it's worth doing.

@heluecht @z428 @witchescauldron @csepp @cketti "If it improves things, it's worth doing."

My issue with this phrasing is that, especially for non-code contributions, you can't possibly know if and how it will improve things. So there's the risk of overthinking it while not doing anything like in this thread. Just do the things you like doing is plenty enough already, project stability be damned.

@hypolite @heluecht @z428 @witchescauldron @cketti That's where guidelines come in handy. In my eyes, it's not much different than adding a CoC, or using issue templates. It just makes things smoother at very little cost to the contributors.
If just jumping head first into the project and not managing expectations leads to burnout, then I don't understand the opposition to preventing that, especially if the dev's enjoyment of their work is so important.

@hypolite @heluecht @z428 @witchescauldron @cketti

Like, you write a two sentence update every so often and maybe add a sentence to the readme, and it lifts the pressure from you. Worst case scenario you wasted 10 minutes writing it. 🤷

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@csepp @z428 @cketti

Well, no, no-one "has to" pick up the mantle. If no-one does, that simply falls under the category of "shit happens" and there's really nothing you can do about it, unless you're both able and willing to do it yourself. _That_ is the harsh reality.

@fossil @z428 @cketti No one has to do anything, we can all just ignore all consequences to our actions and never plan ahead. 🤷
But I think everything that could be said about this topic has been said in the thread.

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