Common problems with open source projects

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What are the challenges people face when they decide to Open Source their projects?

The lack of guidelines creates a lot of anxiety before open-sourcing. People don't really know what and how to do it and may skip very important steps to ensure a long-lasting project.

  • Lack of organization:
    • E.g. missing contributing guidelines
    • Committing to master directly, even after releases
  • Reproducibility
    • It is crucial to have a versioning system, so people can verify the exact status of the algorithms
  • Lack of attention to documentation
  • Lack of incentives, why would someone go through the trouble?
  • Tests? Can we afford not having tests?
  • Open-source has a big problem with maintainability. Willing to pass the project to others (or forking) should be an established and encouraged behavior. See: Maintenance costs of open source projects and extractive contributions to open source projects


Open source projects can be abandoned from one day to the other, creating bottle-necks in the development of packages that depend on them. They may be small, obscured packages, or even larger ones (example: Django Channels). Do commercial counterparts provide any better reassurance? Comsol could go out of business from one day to another, and then? Choosing technology based on their incentives could help shape decisions.

To keep thinking: governance of open source


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Aquiles Carattino
Aquiles Carattino
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