I have just a couple years of experience in software development and in the past few months have been dipping my toes in the water of making open source contributions. It was very exciting when my first patch was accepted! Recently I've opened pull requests to a couple projects and have gotten no response from maintainers. In one case it's been 3-4 weeks and in the other about a week.

In both cases it isn't clear to me how actively the projects are being maintained. There have been commits in the last few months but in both cases I can see that I am not the only person to submit a pull request or open an issue and not get a response.

What should I do in a situation like this? I could fork the repositories and use my own versions of the software but then I don't feel like I'm contributing. Also, is there a path for me to express interest in helping out with maintaining the original repos?


2 Answers 2


The primary way to contribute is by pull requests, just like you said. If your pull requests aren't accepted and you do not get any comments the project might as well be abandoned.

In this case I would open an issue/ticket and ask if you can participate as an maintainer. If you do not get a reply, create your own fork. Write a comment in your issue and say that you maintain an active fork so that other people can find it.

I don't see anything wrong with that. You tried your best to contribute to the main repos. The github issue is great approach, since it prevents multiple new forks, which in turn would make the application diverge and thus make it harder to find the new main repository or combine the development effort.


Although @jgauffin is giving you good general guidelines, I would add that it is important not to jump to conclusions too quickly.

In your question, you say that you haven't received any response for a few weeks but that there were commits to the projet in the last few months. To me it looks more like a project that is still maintained but not very actively. While it may feel kind of rude to be ignored, given how lots of other project maintainers reply very quickly, it really depends much on the way the maintainer is organized.

You can have a look at the history of issues / pull requests to see if it's common that a contribution receives a reply but only after some time. In some cases, you can also look for other users of the software and ask them.

If you are using the software and you want to improve on it, the standard way of doing that on Github is anyway to fork the repository and then submit a pull request. While you are waiting for a response you can very well use your own compiled version of the software.

Finally, if you have several improvements to be made. Do each of them in a separate branch to be able to submit them as distinct pull requests and use your own master branch to merge all of these changes for your own use.

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