What it feels like to be an open-source maintainer

A personal article about the emotional labor involved in managing open source projects.

Excerpt

After a while, you’ve gone through ten or twenty people like this. There are still more than a hundred waiting in line. But by now you’re feeling exhausted; each person has either had a complaint, a question, or a request for enhancement.

In a sense, these GitHub notifications are a constant stream of negativity about your projects. Nobody opens an issue or a pull request when they’re satisfied with your work. They only do so when they’ve found something lacking. Even if you only spend a little bit of time reading through these notifications, it can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.

Your partner has observed that you’re always grumpy after going through this ritual. Maybe you found yourself snapping at her for no reason, just because you were put in a sour mood. “If doing open source makes you so angry, why do you even do it?” she asks. You don’t have a good answer.

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