How GitHub made me go insane (Or: Don’t worry about catering to everyone).

Ryan Rion
Ryan Rion
Jan 25, 2016 · 3 min read

For some background: I’m a web developer who rarely ever has time to work on things yet still tries to. I’ve spent many months trying to make a decent application while trying to juggle school and a job. I would not consider myself the most active developer. Because of this, things tend to pile up. To get rid of the shadows looming over me, the mountainous piles of issues and big reports, I’ve finally snapped and started removing projects. Years of work was being eliminated from existence by a few key presses. When I finished, however, I felt relieved. I’ve started examining why this is and have come up with a theory: GitHub has destroyed the ability to develop individual applications as a hobby.

I began programming when I was still in elementary school; I knew not of using generators with for loops, or how object oriented programming worked, so I began to look for a way to communicate with other developers. I found out that I could talk with other people I knew locally about software design and bugs. If I had too much stress, I was capable of just deleting emails. This was the way I was used to doing things.

When I was about 14, I found GitHub and thought it was my savior; I could have people collaborate on software, distribute my software online, and manage bugs and issues in one, clean location. However, not soon after that, I was unable to develop due to personal issues. However, GitHub was nice enough to keep me in the loop of how well my projects were doing through email — or, alternatively, how bad they were doing. Software that started as a side hobby began digging into my brain that I MUST help people. I then went back to the painful horrors of trying to support old software because two people used it.

This is not how I wanted to live as a programmer. I wanted to be able to relax and cleanly mark a thing a day off of a to-do list. Instead, I had numerous problems adding up. I then started just closing issues, telling users to fix it themselves and leaving the issue to rot. This worked until I started gaining issues. The guilt sunk in as the issues unsolved grew into the double digits. And I just left them there to rot.

I began to tire of the guilt so I did the last thing I could: I deleted history. I simply took everything and got rid of it. I couldn’t face the guilt of people expecting me to dedicate time to their specific issues. This is what I fear will come of people who begin programming open source software: they will get caught in a loop of supporting the worst nightmares known to GitHub.

To reiterate: You do not owe anyone your time when you program software as a hobby. You will feel guilty at first, but you should realize that trying to cater to everyone is never optimal; it’s the reason Windows, OS X, and UNIX-likes exist. You should write the software you want to write, not the software people believe they are entitled to.

Ryan Rion

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Ryan Rion

Programmer, web developer, system administrator, and cuddly teddy bear. Coming to a store near you.