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I have a somewhat popular open source project. It's used by enough people to get a good number of bug reports and some pull requests per month, but not popular enough to have a development team or steady project managers or contributors.

Due to a lack of time, I haven't had the time to properly maintain the project. Even though I currently have some spare time that I can spend on the project, the time that's needed to get the project up to quality looks beyond my reach.

How do I salvage this project, instead of it coming abandoned?


Edit: I'm looking for a specific solution, preferably someone who has experienced the same issue and managed to overcome it. Answers like 'Trying asking for help' without more detail are not useful.

  • Try tp recruit co-developers. If there is no interest, well, then there is no interest. – vonbrand Jan 3 '16 at 18:20
  • @vonbrand Do you want to share who I should recruit and how I should approach this. – Jasny - Arnold Daniels Jan 3 '16 at 18:34
  • The project gets 100 new stargazer, 8 to 10 issues and 1 or 2 PRs per month, so there is at least some interest in it. – Jasny - Arnold Daniels Jan 3 '16 at 18:34
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    I really wish I knew. I'm lucky enough to have a partner who's been keeping the ship afloat while I've been too busy. – RubberDuck Jan 3 '16 at 21:06
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    @Jasny-ArnoldDaniels ask the people interested in your project to chip in. You can give them write access to your master source, once you trust them enough. Perhaps give them responsibility over a particular area. It very much depends on the people involved and your own leadership style. – vonbrand Jan 3 '16 at 23:11
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Start by writing down a list of current issues and make sure it's easily accessible. Other contributors will then have a clear objective: they can fix issues!

Continue by writing down a list of anything you would like to change long-term, in small steps. This allows new people to see what the initial thought behind the project was, and they might want to invest some time to complete these features.

Contacting contributors (and people who forked your project) is definitely a good idea. It's not difficult to do, takes little time, but there is a chance indeed that one of these contributors will be able to fully take over.

Depending on how much time you have, create proper documentation. Contributing is a lot easier when you don't have to spend a week trying to understand the code! Make it easy for people to take the first step, and they might take a few more.

In short, you simply need to communicate to the current and future users that the project is no longer maintained, and is looking for new people to maintain the project.

There's a good chance no-one is willing to do this, but I believe -in that case- it's probably not that big of a deal when development halts.

Remember that you do not owe anyone anything, but communication is a simple act of decency.

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    Where's the "highlight best part" feature in SE? I must stress out how the "communication is a simple act of decency" is an important phrase in the answer. – igorsantos07 Jan 6 '16 at 4:52
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When you abandon an open source project, your last duty should be to hand it over to a new maintainer to make sure it is in good hands.

One thing you could try is contact anyone who contributed to the project in form of pull requests if they want to take over.

Since your project seems to be a fork of a larger project, you also have another option which might be worth considering: Try to get it merged upstream. Consult the maintainers of Bootstrap if they would be interested in integrating your changes into the mainline.

  • Good answer (+1), though to no prevail. I'm trying again to reach out to the contributors, but that hasn't worked in the past. I've turned the project into a separate library after the maintainers of Bootstrap made it clear they did not want to add this functionality upstream. I might try again of course. – Jasny - Arnold Daniels Jan 5 '16 at 0:43
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In addition to the suggestion of Stephan, I'm also splitting up the project into smaller parts.

The core, which is pretty stable, will stay maintained by me. Features will now be plugins which can be maintained separately.

I'll ask developers that have contributed on a specific part of the project (which is now a plugin) to take over the plugin.

Less popular and/or troublesome plugins can be dropped in the future.

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Probably not what you want to hear, but anyway...

If you don't care enough for the project to continue investing (so much) effort in it, perhaps it is time for you to step back. If there is enough interest, someone will fork it and carry the torch on. If not, maybe it wasn't worth all that effort.

  • I'm not sure if it's precise to say "it wasn't worth the effort". It was worth for the time it was used by you, at the bare minimum. – igorsantos07 Jan 6 '16 at 4:54
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    Nonsense. The project is use by quite some people. Just google "Jasny Bootstrap". Though few people are interested in picking up an abandoned project. I know I don't. The whole question is about that I don't want to do what you're proposing. – Jasny - Arnold Daniels Jan 6 '16 at 7:12
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I would consinder using kanban and organize your effort in REALLY small steps but finish those small steps. Kanban is great for such a situation. It is important to publish something from time to time. Some small changes and a clear description whats happining is enough. Spend especially effort in explaining precisly how people could help -- also if they have not much time.

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