Martin Peck
Martin Peck I write code, and manage people who write code.

Highlighting the Health of an OSS Project

Recently, I was having a conversation with a co-worker about what should happen to OSS projects that have become dormant. It’s very common for people to publish something on GitHub, maintain it for a period of time, but then their work (or home) life moves in a different direction and the project is no longer something they want to spend time on. Or, the project was only ever designed to be a sample…a snapshot in time of something that worked when it was published, but years later shouldn’t be relied upon.

When people stumble across such projects it might not be obvious to them that the project isn’t being actively maintained. They may raise issues, create pull requests, or take dependencies on the code. The owners of such projects often feel pressure to then maintain their dormant project, or even guilt when they have to disappoint people.

So, why not just be honest, and up front, with people who find your project? Why not signal the health of your OSS project on README home page for the project so that potential contributors know where they stand?

It was with this in mind that I created a project on GitHub, to try and define some typical OSS Project Statuses:

I’m not sure if the example statuses I’ve defined are great. I think the main message is that project owners should define, somewhere, their level of commitment to the project. That way a potential contributor or user of the code can make an informed decision. It may also help the authors of projects find new owners, who are willing to take ownership of projects.

If you have thoughts on this, please raise an issue in that project: