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One reason this situation is so frustrating is that, increasingly, I find that issue triage takes time away from the actual maintenance of a project. In other words, I often only have enough time to read through an issue and say, “Sorry, I don’t have time to look at this right now.” Just the mere act of responding can take up a majority of the time I’ve set aside for open source.

Nolan Lawson — What it feels like to be an open-source maintainer

Down to SF for WONTFIX Cabal

Flying down to SF for the day to attend WONTFIX Cabal, an unconference on open source project maintenance. The topics I’m struggling with most right now are: support burden (where to draw the line helping end users), and new feature development (how to decide what gets built). Even though open source has been around a while, it still feels very much like the early days.

And our users clearly thought of us as an open-source developer tools company, because that’s what we really were. Which turned out to be very unfortunate, because the open-source developer tools market is one of the worst markets one could possibly end up in. Thousands of people used RethinkDB, often in business contexts, but most were willing to pay less for the lifetime of usage than the price of a single Starbucks coffee (which is to say, they weren’t willing to pay anything at all).

This wasn’t because the product was so good people didn’t need to pay for support, or because developers don’t control budgets, or because of failure of capitalism. The answer is basic microeconomics. Developers love building developer tools, often for free. So while there is massive demand, the supply vastly outstrips it. This drives the number of alternatives up, and the prices down to zero.

Slava Akhmechet – RethinkDB: why we failed

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Daniel Bachhuber

Proud father and husband. Principal, Hand Built. Maintainer, WP-CLI. Sales, rtCamp.