The Ostrich Developer

Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, with it’s shifting view of time, fits the life on GitHub like a glove.

In “Coders Fly Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” it was about The Ungrateful Eastern European, He Who Submits Cryptic Bug Reports, He Who Thinks His Project Is Much Better, He Who Bails the Ship and others.

This time it is about the open source calendar. This calendar does not look like the Julian or Gregorian cousin. It’s weird.

GitHub demographic. Photo: Stefano Desabbata

GitHub demographic. Photo: Stefano Desabbata

The Project Owner Who Cried Wolf

This is typical for popular projects. The number of user requests escalates – and the project owner gets more attractive on the job market. So the software project he created for fun two years back, is now a fountain source of bad conscience.

He still wants to keep the users, his fans, happy. So he starts to make promises he knows he can’t keep.

“I’m 90% done with that new feature. I’m super-busy at work this week, but I will get time to finish it next week.”

The “Almost Finished” Developer

This is he/she who takes on a development task with bravado and big optimism, then it gets silent.

When asked for a status report:

“I will finish it in two days.”

Two days later:

“I was hindered by real life! But I’m almost finished …”

This “real life” argument is common. As if open source development is some fantasy world and not that important.

The Developer Who Silently Caves

One way to get into working on an open source project is to read the open issues on GitHub. Then find something that doesn’t look too hard to implement and write: “I’ll take a stab at this!”

Project maintainers know that this most likely means having to help this developer getting up to speed, even to teach him/her some programming skills. But the project maintainer is more than willing to do this, because the potential reward is big: A new worker that works for free!

But more often than not this developer gives up. He/she doesn’t understand the task in question, or the technology used – so he/she surrenders in silence, too embarrassed to admit it or ask the questions needed.

The Ostrich Developer

The Ostrich Developer Who Hides the Head in the Sand or He Who Fire and Forgets. This is the developer who submits a pull request with a bug fix or a new feature. Then, when you ask him/her to make some adjustments – adding a test, maybe some documentation – it is total silence. No response.

He/she will get notified in a mail about this. Developers read their mail.

So this must be the ostrich tactics:

“If we just stay still he will think that we’re not really here, and eventually he will add that boring documentation himself! It’s not like this is real work, anyway …”


This is a post in the Mental GitHub series. Posts in this series:



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