After attending YAPC::NA this year, I decided that it was time to get on IRC, in order to open another avenue for users to contact me. This has been an eye opening experience to say the least.
I have taken over the role of developer for a Perl open source project that shall remain anonymous for the purposes of this story. I describe myself as the “release manager” for the project, and refer to the project “team” in official communications because I hope to entice others to contribute, but the truth is that aside from some code reviews I do almost all of the work. That is okay because it gives me additional control, but it is also disappointing because I wish others were more excited about this project.
Anyway, last week I was reviewing my personal log of an IRC channel that I monitor, and I cringed at what I saw. The former maintainer of the project was arguing
belligerently with and equally belligerent system developer. They both had a point, but to a certain extent they were both wrong (the project does have too many
dependencies, but on the other hand the project isn’t inherently hostile to system developers). There were a few bugs that needed to fixed for our project, the system
developer’s system, and also to a third party project that fit between the two. Lets just call the author of that “third party”.
I discovered to my horror that the system developer had sent a pull request to third party to remove all use of our project. While from his point of view this is not a bad way of fixing things, it does break things for a lot of other people. I am not sure why he didn’t come to our project to see what could be done. The only thing I can think is that he went to the former maintainer and he told him to go f* himself.
Anyway, I offered to work with the system developer and third party to get things working right. I managed to get the system developer to generate working packages using our project, but I am not certain they will actually use them. I am hoping that in working with him I will get some good will going between us. Third party merged some fixes into his software, but not enough to get it working completely. I asked the system developer to chime in, in the hopes that it would help, but he refused, understandably so since third party has been somewhat obstinate in this whole thing.
I have been writing technical blogs about this stuff in the hopes of raising its profile, but not much seems to be happening. I think part of the reason is that even though we have made huge strides in reliability since I took over, things were so bad for so long that people have written the project off. I haven’t given up yet though.