A piece of etiquette – respect contributors by not asking this one question

Open source projects thrive on collaboration, community support, and the dedication of contributors. However, one common mistake made by users and newcomers is inquiring whether an open source project is dead. This question can be discouraging and demotivating to the developers and contributors behind the project. Here’s why it’s important to avoid asking this question and how to approach the situation more positively.

Understanding Open Source Dynamics

Open source projects are often managed by volunteers or small teams who dedicate their free time to create and maintain software that benefits a wider community. Contributors juggle these projects alongside their jobs, personal lives, and other commitments. As a result, project progress might not always follow a conventional timeline or be as rapid as expected.

Impact of the “Is it Dead?” Question

When users inquire about the status of a project in such a blunt manner, it can undermine the efforts of the contributors. It can be demoralizing for the developers who invest their time and effort into the project. Instead of motivating them, this question can create a sense of doubt or pressure.

A More Constructive Approach

Rather than asking if a project is dead, there are more constructive ways to engage with open source communities:

  • Check the Project’s Activity: Look at the project’s repository, GitHub issues, or forums to gauge recent activity. This will provide insights into ongoing work, discussions, or updates.
  • Engage Positively: Ask about the status of the project in a more positive and supportive manner. Inquire about the roadmap, upcoming features, or ways to contribute. This approach shows appreciation for the project and encourages contributors.
  • Offer Help: If you’re genuinely interested in the project, consider contributing. Whether it’s by reporting bugs, improving documentation, or writing code, your contribution can revitalize and strengthen the project.

Respect for Contributors’ Efforts

Remember, behind every open source project, there are individuals investing their time and skills for the benefit of others. Respect their efforts, even if a project might not have seen recent updates. Instead of assuming the worst, offer encouragement and support.


Open source projects are driven by the collective efforts of a community. It’s crucial to approach inquiries about a project’s status with tact and positivity. Instead of asking if a project is dead, engage constructively, show support, and consider contributing to breathe new life into the project. By fostering a respectful and encouraging environment, we can empower and motivate open source contributors to continue their valuable work.

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