Recently I’ve seen many people complaining on Twitter about Open Source development and I would like to talk about some of these complaints. Most of them are not healthy for the community and we should change that.

People opening issues are just trying to help

People opening issues aren’t trying to debunk your work, they are doing it to help you improve what you have already got!

If anyone opens an issue, doesn’t matter whether it’s a bug, a suggestion or a question, don’t take it personal.

In case you disagree let them know and explain why, that’s the whole purpose of the Issue Tracker. Don’t you think it is awesome to be able to get in touch with the ones who produce the software you use?

Open source decreases the distance between the user and the developer and that should be used to improve the quality of our software, let’s take advantage of that.

Not anybody that opens an issue wants to solve it, and that is okay

Yes, that is okay.

If anyone has a problem with your software or wants a feature they are not obliged to implement it, and neither are you, but please don’t just go ahead and tell them to code it themselves. Instead, tell them how to do it and write complete instructions on a comment in order for other people to be able to solve that.

Also, maybe the one who opened an issue doesn’t have technical skills or knowledge of the codebase enough to implement it, thus, even though someone wants it, it might be impossible for that person to get it done.

The whole point of doing open source and free software is helping people and democratizing access to tools, so any input should be valued, even if it’s not accepted.

I remember when I was just starting out and I wanted to help a project and these kinds of comments helped me a lot! When you create a healthy environment for people to start contributing they will contribute more times, you will have less work to do alone and you will have more brains thinking on the project, which also increases its quality.

People are not their code

Everyone deserves respect, doesn’t matter how good or how bad their code is.

Whenever you receive a Pull Request with code you think it’s bad or an issue you think is too basic you should still respect them.

Everybody has to start somewhere and we don’t want to scare new contributors, we need more people if we want to build a great community. The more people we have contributing, the more good tools we will have.

Always thank people for their input, even though you’re going to refuse it.

If they have any doubt, it doesn’t matter how simple it is, take your time to send them links and explain what they should do.

One of my first PRs to a big project was sent to NodeSchool and I was asked to rebase it. At that time I still used Windows and I didn’t know how to do it, so a fellow programmer told me how to it and after many tries I managed to achieve the rebase I wanted, so I apologized and said that “it was quite a journey”. The guy who answered me (which is ralphtheninja btw) told me I should not apologize and that “it’s in journeys like that you learn something”. This may sound simple, but I will always remember this guy and this is what made me dig deeper into the open source world. Now I want to help other people like this guy did with me.

Let’s help other people and share knowledge, open source is great and it’s all about people.

If you have any cool stories regarding open source projects, let me know on the comments or send me a tweet at @lfernandescosta.