It doesn't work

An inspired blogpost by Frank Denis on the depression that may be felt by FOSS maintainers


I sympathize with his pain, but some of the solutions he mentions are very bad and unnecessary. The proper solution is to simply stop treating the issue tracker as a todo list for the maintainer; treat it as a todo list for the community. Automatically closing issues is harmful:


The author ignored that most people who report issues are, by no means, techies. You can use all fancy tools you want, it does not change anything on the fact that the average Joe is not a developer - in most cases.

The more popular your app or project gets, the more you fight with users over specific things, I think uBlock is a popular example. It often ends up with more restrictions and limitations for those who want to report something, which overall results in the opposite you normally want.

You can also regulate notifications on GitHub or turn it off, no one forces you to track every little mini fart in the wind. A filter function would be nice or highlight specific regex specific terms or words, but this is something GitHub could improve, but then again it changes nothing regarding how the end user will use the comment function or report function. At the end you workaround with restrictions, templates and something you can optionally enforce, but if that is really better is up to a debate. The more complicate you make things, the more your users going to not report anything at all, especially if they made negative experiences … because their report got locked, ignored, etc.

Afaik, a code of conduct as well as a bug report template is more than enough. If people really ignore it, then they have not much interest at all in providing something useful in the first place.


I observe it daily, people putting 50 extensions of doubtful origin and usefulness in their browser and then complaining that the browser is slow or such a video or page does not work.


I fear that ignoring tickets just makes them stack. Similarly, closing and locking tickets arbitrarily may affect your reputation. This may or may not be a problem depending on how you feel about your reputation. Still, it is worth remembering that some maintainers do care, and that they don’t want to look bad (even though most would understand).

I personally don’t think that setting a bar high to deter less motivated people from contributing is a sane approach. I suffer from poor quality bug reports every single day, at work, and yet, they often are an indicator of something that IS broken in my software. I need them.

The key difference is that I am paid for it, and that my contributors are also paid employees, that I have to work with every day, and that will learn over time. Being on the receiving end of an endless streams of negative comments, for no other reason that being willing to share some of your work, as-is, is not an appropriate retribution. And even if that was a paid job, I’m not sure one would want to keep it.

I don’t think the issue is whether contributors are tech pros or not, and whether one should do gatekeeping. I think that the point is that it is worth remembering, when you contribute an issue to a project, that the maintainer is a human being, probably giving some of its own free time, out of passion and compassion, to fix your issue, and that negative comments are plainly abusive and should probably be worded in a gentler way.


i’ve been on Linux for over 2 years and have wanted to file a big report many times, but the process is intimidating - looked like learning an entire project or new software. FOSS is not easy usually. The best luck i’ve ever had was offering to test a new markdown software out and emailing the dev with screen shots - using Flameshot to circle the things i wanted him to see.He made many improvements based on my feedback. If he’d made me fill out a lengthy bug report - especially one unique to his software/project, I wouldn’t have done it.


You will always suffer, as a developer, from low-quality comments, pull requests and argumentation. There is no tool to change that since you cannot influence, change or put force on people doing XZZ. Over 70 Percent of FOSS work is talking talking talking and it is annoying and boring, but this is the way how it is.

You are incorrect saying this is not a user thing, it absolutely is. The only way is to enforce something on them, platform wise or manually, but that is all you can do. The more experience a user has with FOSS or contribution in general, the more advance he will become, and therefore the overall quality of his interaction will usually go up. As always, there are exceptions.


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