TL;DR

Write a thank-you note to your favorite open source project on the NGO Thank you, open source.

Long Version

Here is what I thoughts about why we never thank open source maintainers.

I can build it by myself

“Come on, this is so easy to me”

“I can do a better version in a weekend”

It is true that some of you guys can build a tool in a hackathon, but maintaining a project is a lot more difficult than building a project. Most of the time they are not writing code, but:

  • Writing the docs
  • Reviewing the pull requests
  • Looking at the issues
  • Adding new features
  • Answering questions on StackOverflow
  • Discussing on google groups.

A maintainer has to do all the hard work day after day, year after year without pay.

It’s too easy to forget when it’s too easy to make use of their work

How do we use an open source project?

  1. We search for the solution to our problem.
  2. We visit some blogs and websites. (maybe just stackoverflow.com)
  3. We click on the project URL, read the README. We install and try it out. It works perfectly. Woohoo!
  4. We move onto our next problem.

While this also happens to be sometimes, because open source projects are so important just like air and water. We don’t say thank you to air or water because we don’t know who built it. But We do know who built these awesome open source projects.

The maintainers don’t care about this

“They don’t need this, they need to pull requests or fix bugs.”

“I think they would prefer donations.”

They do care, Sometimes all a maintainer needs is a “thank you” . Of course. It’s great if you could also donate some money, but most maintainers I know are not for profit. They can eventually make money but money is more of a byproduct than the main incentive. I’ve noticed that open source projects are always better than non-open source projects. because the most talented engineers do it out of passion and altruism. If you can’t donate some money, you can write a note.

We are too “busy”

“We are changing the world with our hands.”

“My project has to launch in a week.”

“We have hundreds of emails to reply everyday.”

“We just don’t have time for it.”

These open-source projects have more potential to change the world; or maybe they have already changed the world.

  • Github uses Rails on Ruby
  • Instagram uses django
  • Lots of our servers are running Linux.

Our projects would not have made it without these open-source projects.

10 minutes can do nothing. Modern social media forms us a habit of clicking an upvote button or a like button instead of spending 10 minutes to write a thank-you note, while a great project can save us so much more than 10 minutes. After I posted www.thankyouopensource.com on ProductHunt, some users complained about the 300-character requirement. That’s because we want to avoid simple notes such as:

“Thank you, you guys rock.”

“Thank you so much.”

“I love your project.”

I think these users are too “busy” to write a thank-you note. But this looks like meaningless spam to me and I think reading these is just a waste of time. We want notes out of genuinity instead of obligation. They are very different and we can all tell the difference by word. We want the maintainers to know that why we love their work and how their projects have helped us so that our genuine notes could serve as a motivation to them. And most importantly, we want to welcome everyone interested to join the maintaining community because it is indeed a cool job. Once you have become a maintainer, your work would be sincerely appreciated through the thank-you notes. I suggest Github add a tab titled “thanks” for every project, not just to appreciate the maintainers, but also to invite more people to join the project.

Final thoughts:

Maintainers are the friends we want and the employees companies look for. They have passion, willingness to share, and persistence. They are the real MVP and they deserve a thank-you note.

What is Thank you, open source

This is an NGO project providing a platform for people to express gratitude toward open source maintainers and authors. It also provides a platform for maintainers to advertise their side-projects. Cheers.