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Q&A What is a reasonable minimum for making a FOSS project inviting to contributors?

Matthew's list is pretty good, although I don't think one has to do all the things on it as a "minimum." I offer one minimum and a couple nice-to-haves. Some of these I have learned as a contributo...

posted 2mo ago by Michael‭  ·  edited 2mo ago by Michael‭

Answer
#3: Post edited by user avatar Michael‭ · 2024-03-25T20:03:01Z (about 2 months ago)
Clarify good-first
  • [Matthew's list][matthew] is pretty good, although I don't think one has to do _all_ the things on it as a "minimum." I offer one minimum and a couple nice-to-haves. Some of these I have learned as a contributor; some as a maintainer.
  • ## Must
  • 1. **Don't be a jerk.** When people engage with your project, don't be dismissive, haughty, or mean. There are definitely things you should ignore, and sometimes posts (or people) you need to block, but rudeness is never rewarded.
  • There are projects I know I will never contribute to because I saw how _someone else_ was treated by the maintainers.
  • ## Good
  • 1. **Have a scope.** It is extremely demoralizing to make a PR that does a thing, and have it rejected because "our project doesn't do that." Save that person the work, and/or encourage opening issues to discuss it first.
  • 2. **Don't summarily close stale issues.**[^stale] It is _terrible_ from the perspective of an invested party to be subscribed to a bug report that is then locked (especially by a "needs bump or else" automation). You can close issues as `WONTFIX` or `DUPLICATE` if that's the proper resolution, but otherwise leave them open.
  • The upvoting is important and should not be fragmented. It is also extremely frustrating to discover years later that someone opened _the same issue_ but without the previous context, and no one who was previously subscribed knew about it.
  • On the other hand: **Hide "me too" comments** that lack additional information, and gently suggest upvoting OP instead.
  • 3. **Builds should be easy.** This may be implied by [the previous answer][matthew], but I want it to be explicit: If people can't build your project with little-to-no effort, a large contingent are never going to contribute and won't ever tell you why.
  • Clone, (optionally) install dependencies, and make. Nobody downloads your source code to fuss with architecture differences or toolchain versions. If someone is sufficiently engaged to get past that, or to post an issue about a build error, great! You've found a good one! But if they decide it wasn't worth it, you may never hear from them again.
  • ## Maybe
  • 1. **Tag issues as "good first issue."** I am not certain that this helps, but it's low-effort and probably doesn't hurt.
  • [^stale]: This either a clarification or a rebuttal to [Matthew's][matthew] #6 "Clean out the tumbleweeds."
  • [matthew]: https://software.codidact.com/posts/291131/291133#answer-291133
  • [Matthew's list][matthew] is pretty good, although I don't think one has to do _all_ the things on it as a "minimum." I offer one minimum and a couple nice-to-haves. Some of these I have learned as a contributor; some as a maintainer.
  • ## Must
  • 1. **Don't be a jerk.** When people engage with your project, don't be dismissive, haughty, or mean. There are definitely things you should ignore, and sometimes posts (or people) you need to block, but rudeness is never rewarded.
  • There are projects I know I will never contribute to because I saw how _someone else_ was treated by the maintainers.
  • ## Good
  • 1. **Have a scope.** It is extremely demoralizing to make a PR that does a thing, and have it rejected because "our project doesn't do that." Save that person the work, and/or encourage opening issues to discuss it first.
  • 2. **Don't summarily close stale issues.**[^stale] It is _terrible_ from the perspective of an invested party to be subscribed to a bug report that is then locked (especially by a "needs bump or else" automation). You can close issues as `WONTFIX` or `DUPLICATE` if that's the proper resolution, but otherwise leave them open.
  • The upvoting is important and should not be fragmented. It is also extremely frustrating to discover years later that someone opened _the same issue_ but without the previous context, and no one who was previously subscribed knew about it.
  • On the other hand: **Hide "me too" comments** that lack additional information, and gently suggest upvoting OP instead.
  • 3. **Builds should be easy.** This may be implied by [the previous answer][matthew], but I want it to be explicit: If people can't build your project with little-to-no effort, a large contingent are never going to contribute and won't ever tell you why.
  • Clone, (optionally) install dependencies, and make. Nobody downloads your source code to fuss with architecture differences or toolchain versions. If someone is sufficiently engaged to get past that, or to post an issue about a build error, great! You've found a good one! But if they decide it wasn't worth it, you may never hear from them again.
  • ## Maybe
  • 1. **Tag appropriate issues as "good first issue."** I am not certain that this helps, but it's low-effort and probably doesn't hurt.
  • In my experience, most people who want to contribute want to fix _their_ pain point, not _your_ pain point. However, for those genuine altruists who are just a bit intimidated by your existing codebase, it might be helpful to suggest a good, encapsulated entry-point into making a change to the system.
  • [^stale]: This either a clarification or a rebuttal to [Matthew's][matthew] #6 "Clean out the tumbleweeds."
  • [matthew]: https://software.codidact.com/posts/291131/291133#answer-291133
#2: Post edited by user avatar Michael‭ · 2024-03-25T17:23:37Z (about 2 months ago)
Delete remnant of deleted footnote.
  • [Matthew's list][matthew] is pretty good, although I don't think one has to do _all_ the things on it as a "minimum." I will offer some minimums and some nice-to-haves. Some of these I have learned as a contributor; some as a maintainer.
  • ## Must
  • 1. **Don't be a jerk.** When people engage with your project, don't be dismissive, haughty, or mean. There are definitely things you should ignore, and sometimes posts (or people) you need to block, but rudeness is never rewarded.
  • There are projects I know I will never contribute to because I saw how _someone else_ was treated by the maintainers.
  • ## Good
  • 1. **Have a scope.** It is extremely demoralizing to make a PR that does a thing, and have it rejected because "our project doesn't do that."[^scope] Save that person the work, and/or encourage opening issues to discuss it first.
  • 2. **Don't summarily close stale issues.**[^stale] It is _terrible_ from the perspective of an invested party to be subscribed to a bug report that is then locked (especially by a "needs bump or else" automation). You can close issues as `WONTFIX` or `DUPLICATE` if that's the proper resolution, but otherwise leave them open.
  • The upvoting is important and should not be fragmented. It is also extremely frustrating to discover years later that someone opened _the same issue_ but without the previous context, and no one who was previously subscribed knew about it.
  • On the other hand: **Hide "me too" comments** that lack additional information, and gently suggest upvoting OP instead.
  • 3. **Builds should be easy.** This may be implied by [the previous answer][matthew], but I want it to be explicit: If people can't build your project with little-to-no effort, a large contingent are never going to contribute and won't ever tell you why.
  • Clone, (optionally) install dependencies, and make. Nobody downloads your source code to fuss with architecture differences or toolchain versions. If someone is sufficiently engaged to get past that, or to post an issue about a build error, great! You've found a good one! But if they decide it wasn't worth it, you may never hear from them again.
  • ## Maybe
  • 1. **Tag issues as "good first issue."** I am not certain that this helps, but it's low-effort and probably doesn't hurt.
  • [^stale]: This either a clarification or a rebuttal to [Matthew's][matthew] #6 "Clean out the tumbleweeds."
  • [matthew]: https://software.codidact.com/posts/291131/291133#answer-291133
  • [Matthew's list][matthew] is pretty good, although I don't think one has to do _all_ the things on it as a "minimum." I offer one minimum and a couple nice-to-haves. Some of these I have learned as a contributor; some as a maintainer.
  • ## Must
  • 1. **Don't be a jerk.** When people engage with your project, don't be dismissive, haughty, or mean. There are definitely things you should ignore, and sometimes posts (or people) you need to block, but rudeness is never rewarded.
  • There are projects I know I will never contribute to because I saw how _someone else_ was treated by the maintainers.
  • ## Good
  • 1. **Have a scope.** It is extremely demoralizing to make a PR that does a thing, and have it rejected because "our project doesn't do that." Save that person the work, and/or encourage opening issues to discuss it first.
  • 2. **Don't summarily close stale issues.**[^stale] It is _terrible_ from the perspective of an invested party to be subscribed to a bug report that is then locked (especially by a "needs bump or else" automation). You can close issues as `WONTFIX` or `DUPLICATE` if that's the proper resolution, but otherwise leave them open.
  • The upvoting is important and should not be fragmented. It is also extremely frustrating to discover years later that someone opened _the same issue_ but without the previous context, and no one who was previously subscribed knew about it.
  • On the other hand: **Hide "me too" comments** that lack additional information, and gently suggest upvoting OP instead.
  • 3. **Builds should be easy.** This may be implied by [the previous answer][matthew], but I want it to be explicit: If people can't build your project with little-to-no effort, a large contingent are never going to contribute and won't ever tell you why.
  • Clone, (optionally) install dependencies, and make. Nobody downloads your source code to fuss with architecture differences or toolchain versions. If someone is sufficiently engaged to get past that, or to post an issue about a build error, great! You've found a good one! But if they decide it wasn't worth it, you may never hear from them again.
  • ## Maybe
  • 1. **Tag issues as "good first issue."** I am not certain that this helps, but it's low-effort and probably doesn't hurt.
  • [^stale]: This either a clarification or a rebuttal to [Matthew's][matthew] #6 "Clean out the tumbleweeds."
  • [matthew]: https://software.codidact.com/posts/291131/291133#answer-291133
#1: Initial revision by user avatar Michael‭ · 2024-03-25T16:07:16Z (about 2 months ago)
[Matthew's list][matthew] is pretty good, although I don't think one has to do _all_ the things on it as a "minimum." I will offer some minimums and some nice-to-haves. Some of these I have learned as a contributor; some as a maintainer.

## Must

1. **Don't be a jerk.** When people engage with your project, don't be dismissive, haughty, or mean. There are definitely things you should ignore, and sometimes posts (or people) you need to block, but rudeness is never rewarded.

    There are projects I know I will never contribute to because I saw how _someone else_ was treated by the maintainers.

## Good

1. **Have a scope.** It is extremely demoralizing to make a PR that does a thing, and have it rejected because "our project doesn't do that."[^scope] Save that person the work, and/or encourage opening issues to discuss it first.

2. **Don't summarily close stale issues.**[^stale] It is _terrible_ from the perspective of an invested party to be subscribed to a bug report that is then locked (especially by a "needs bump or else" automation). You can close issues as `WONTFIX` or `DUPLICATE` if that's the proper resolution, but otherwise leave them open.

    The upvoting is important and should not be fragmented. It is also extremely frustrating to discover years later that someone opened _the same issue_ but without the previous context, and no one who was previously subscribed knew about it.

    On the other hand: **Hide "me too" comments** that lack additional information, and gently suggest upvoting OP instead.

3. **Builds should be easy.** This may be implied by [the previous answer][matthew], but I want it to be explicit: If people can't build your project with little-to-no effort, a large contingent are never going to contribute and won't ever tell you why.

    Clone, (optionally) install dependencies, and make. Nobody downloads your source code to fuss with architecture differences or toolchain versions. If someone is sufficiently engaged to get past that, or to post an issue about a build error, great! You've found a good one! But if they decide it wasn't worth it, you may never hear from them again.

## Maybe

1. **Tag issues as "good first issue."** I am not certain that this helps, but it's low-effort and probably doesn't hurt.


[^stale]: This either a clarification or a rebuttal to [Matthew's][matthew] #6 "Clean out the tumbleweeds."

[matthew]: https://software.codidact.com/posts/291131/291133#answer-291133