I've found an open source project (MIT-licensed) that I really loved the idea and the project code base itself, however it seems to be abandoned and people are doing their own forks from it.

I did that too, but then I realized I can continue working on this project.

However I don't want it to look like stealing code or anything. What should I do?

  • Since this appears to be about etiquette, rather than legality, I've edited the tags. I also edited the title. Feel free to revert or edit any of my changes.
    – apsillers
    Jul 28, 2017 at 17:32
  • @apsillers , not at all, I was trying to find more suitable tags , but this site appears to be at beta and many of them are not formed yet, also I don't have the right to create new so, thanks for the help
    – kuskmen
    Jul 28, 2017 at 22:20
  • Unless you have access to the original repository or can contact the person who abandoned it, your only option is to create a fork of it. If you are worried about logos or trademarks, look in the project's documentation for any information, or, again, try to contact someone who used to work on the project.
    – user7644
    Aug 6, 2017 at 18:34
  • I made PR to the original repo but no reply or what so ever:(
    – kuskmen
    Aug 8, 2017 at 5:23

1 Answer 1


Forking implies a few things which may answer your question.

First, the original author - by using a free/libre license - authorized you to fork, for whatever reason. You cannot "steal" something what has been explicitly offered for you to take.

When forking, you keep the (preferably full) list of the original authors, giving them their credit. Since you do the same free licensing, there's nothing stopping them to integrate back your changes, or to join the two projects. Or others.

Sometimes it's worth a try to contact the original people since they may be more familiar with the code, but abandonware authors rarely want to touch it again after decades. On Github there's a feature which shows you the network of forks, which sometimes cannot even display the network due to the large amount of forks around, so I may say forking is really commonplace activity nowadays and you need not to worry about it.

If the project is a useful one you will see plenty of people who will come to you and help you, or ask for your help. By forking and working on it you make the world better, more diverse (for better or worse).

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