Over the past few months, I’ve been helping out at Qwilr upgrading the version the core library underpinning our editor experience, Slate. Slate is a really cool library that I have a hard time explaining, so I recommend checking out their docs for a real explanation:
Slate lets you build rich, intuitive editors like those in Medium, Dropbox Paper or Google Docs—which are becoming table stakes for applications on the web—without your codebase getting mired in complexity.
Reduced complexity? I’m in!
The library went through a major rewrite towards the end of 2019, and upgrading to use the newer versions is a nontrivial endeavour. Like all code changes, there are bugs in the new implementation, and one of them I helped fix this week! Yay!
The increasing unpleasantness of open source
I would like to mention that as part of getting this upgrade done and also contributing back to the repo (of which my contribution was incredibly minor in the grand scheme of things), I’ve seen some really awful, self-entitled and rude attitudes towards contributors and maintainers, both on the Slack community and on Github.
I know this is not a new problem, and this has been discussed to death, and I don’t have any “hot takes” I want to add to the topic. It does, however, make me very disheartened to see good, well-intentioned people being treated poorly by others, and it doesn’t make me want to be there at all. I don’t know if I would stick around, if I didn’t have to as an imperative from my workplace and my ability to get compensated for the work I do.
The economics and systems of and surrounding open source are unsustainable as they stand and getting worse.
We end up in the position where:
- Maintainers are doing most of the project maintenance, mostly or completely uncompensated and so doing it only in their spare time usually
- Others who ARE being compensated when using these projects, are highly motivated to hassle the maintainers to do things
Eventually, pretty much every active maintainer is gonna burn out, and then we’re all up shit creek. The fact that this is just one project in the many thousands of projects suffering from the same problems is SO FREAKING DEMORALISING.
I read somewhere (can’t find it anymore) that realistically what will come out of this (and what already has come out of this), is a lot of projects will start to have private forks where maintenance goes on, giving the impression from the outside of an unmaintained project, whilst contributors work in secret and share with only trusted collaborators, away from the ~ unwashed masses~ of the public open source community.
I don’t blame them.