Sometimes, I'll start writing some code with no actual expectations about where it will end up or how useful it will be.

Is there any point in releasing the code for a small project, mainly done for myself, which will likely never be finished? Or is it better to keep that code private?

I'm looking for answers that take into account both the benefit for the general public as well as the potential future of the project.

  • Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. – Madara Uchiha Jun 24 '15 at 10:02
  • I'm looking for answers that take into account both the benefit for the general public as well as the potential future of the project. - not opinion based in either case. Both supportable by evidence and examples. – trichoplax Jun 29 '15 at 1:26
  • @MadaraUchiha I see your concern so I'll add something in the comments here: when answering this question, try not to get too bogged down in what you think, but rather present the views as those who hold them do. (minus some bias where possible/necessary) – overactor Jun 29 '15 at 13:10
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Open sourcing a project is never evil. You can open source small scripts to full scale applications if you want, and be assured that among the millions of programmers out there, even if it is useful to a few of them, you've succeeded. You have essentially helped someone reduce his/her work by using your code.

Regarding the future of your project, well, I'm sure if you do something useful, and it is something that can potentially help out several others like you, people would want to contribute.

  • 3
    "Open sourcing a project is never evil" -> Except when your project is so specific or dysfunctional that it requires significant effort to get working (for example because it depends on strange/undocumented system settings), does something different than advertised, or is riddled with bugs; in which case you're wasting the time of everyone downloading it. – user38 Jun 24 '15 at 10:15
  • @Carpetsmoker I would never choose such 3rd party code for my project. One would obviously want it to be documented, and if I go to a Github page where a 10 line project has 30 issues, I'd never use it. But again, this is a discussion for some other question :) – Ranveer Jun 24 '15 at 10:18
  • 1
    The problem it's not always obvious from the outset whether a project is bad or not. Many projects are good in spite of sparse documentation, lack of website, or many open issues... – user38 Jun 24 '15 at 10:19
  • @Carpetsmoker generally you'd want to go for a well-documented or well-reputed project. – Ranveer Jun 24 '15 at 10:22
  • I think this is a discussion relevant to this question. Part of a good answer will include examples of times when it would be better not to release your code, or to only release with clear warnings. – trichoplax Jun 29 '15 at 1:29

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