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Revisiting an old project, and thoughts on open source expectations

So a while back (back in 2020) I put together a project where I wanted a Masonry layout. I don’t even remember the project, but I’d grabbed the code from a CSS-tricks tutorial by @anatudor, put it up on Github and npm and kind of forgot about it.

Fast forward to last week, I was doing some spring cleaning in my Github and noticed this repo, a few stars and forks, and a bunch of issues… turns out people had been using it, and been having problems with it!

Back when I put it up I had big warning signs that “this will not be maintained” but that didn’t prevent a few people from posting issues; also cool that other people have forked it and made updates. In matter of fact, is a demo someone made based on my code!

Is it irresponsible for people to just put up “dirty, semi-working code in the public” like this, on Github and npm no less, and not maintain it for a few years? Even if it in large letters proclaimed it won’t be maintained?

I’ve thought about the burden of putting out code in the open, and the “responsibility to society of maintaining it.” I don’t think it should be the publisher / “maintainer’s” responsibility, but at the same time, I’ve been annoyed at bugs from others’ repos that have gone untouched for months or years. I’ve been that person who’s complained before.

I’ve just now gone back and fixed and closed all the issues, bumped the demo project from Sapper to Sveltekit, and put up a new barebones demo page showing Masonry in action:

It doesn’t seem right that such a burden or expectations should fall on someone who released the code — it’ll have the effect of either burning out the people who DO release public code, or teach people to not make their repos public (which I rarely do)? No one actually complained that the code was unmaintained, but it does feel like there’s some amount of implicit pressure on the maintainer. Also — I wish there was another name for “maintainer” to describe the person who committed and walked away from public code, not to maintain the code, but to put it out there for others to remix.

Between so many open source / open core YC companies and open source AI projects, it seems like the appetite for more open repos, and the expectation that those will continuously be improved and maintained indefinitely will spiral out of control.

The reason I found this svelte-masonry project in the first place was because I needed to showcase some projects, and never expected anyone to submit issues or star anything I’d ever done.

I can’t imagine what the pressure is like for some AI devs who get 100k+ (let alone 1k+) stars.

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