PSA: If You See Something, Say Something
January 24 2015
I’ve observed an unfortunate pattern when developing software:
Developer identifies a need that would require an opensource module or tool.
Developer finds a tool that fulfills that need at the usual sources (Github, NPM, Bower, RubyGems, etc)
Developer hits unknown issues that are not solvable with Google or StackOverflow while using the module.
Developer moves on and looks for a different tool.
This happens for a lot of different reasons (and who isn’t guilty of this kind of behavior?), but it ultimately does a disservice to the Open Source community at large.
Some of the reasons for not reporting bugs in Open Source software include:
Fear of publicly appearing unknowledgeable or being told to RTFM.
Time crunches and frustration over needing something that “just works”
Not learning how to report issues to the appropriate channels
Every question on Github or StackOverflow that helped you write better code is ultimately the result of an individual who set aside their time to fix a problem and help others in the same situation. In the case of solving rare bugs or edge use cases, sometimes that person needs to be you.
Not raising concerns about tools in the Open Source ecosystem slows down or impedes progress for software that could have otherwise served many uses.
Opponents of Open Source Software often mention a lack of support as one of the main reasons to not use it. It is also my experience that the vast majority of Open Source Software consumers are
not reporting issues or requesting support from maintainers. Few people ever do, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Opensource is about people, so go out there and interact with them. You’ll make the Open Source a better place for everyone.