Pelle Wessman

Things about me and the world around us

We should have co-maintainer best practises

Collaboration is one of the key aspects of open source. The collaboration though is often dependent on the maintainer being able to accept or deny a contribution and to give feedback on the next step.

Many have over the years rightfully voiced concerns about this reliance on the single maintainer – what do we do when the maintainer no longer answers?

Drupal solved this by both making it easy to add co-maintainers, through clear best practices for co-maintaining projects, and by having clear procedures for handing abandoned projects over to new owners.

That has enabled Drupal to push hard for collaborating on existing projects rather than adding new duplicates, which is a stark contrast to eg. the WordPress and jQuery communities where duplication rather than collaboration sadly seems to be the norm. (How many carousel, Facebook share plugins and parallax scripts do the world really need?)

More open source projects, and especially so the Node.js/NPM one which already have a high level of collaboration, should follow Drupal in defining clear best practises for co-maintenance. Sure, Felix Geisendörfer’s Pull Request Hack goes a long way – but it would be fairer for everyone if the expectations were clear and well communicated up front. It would lower the threshold of participation even further.

Through such best practises more maintainers would probably dare to add co-maintainers to their projects and co-maintainers would hopefully dare to go even further in their contributions to a project or even dare to step up as a co-maintainer at all in the first place. And that’s where we should be heading – towards more and easier collaboration.

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