Make an open source maintainer's day with this one weird trick

Jerod Santo Jerod Santo

Little bits of appreciation can make big differences in maintainers’ lives. Here’s one way you can show appreciation that will take less than five minutes out of your day and just might make someone else’s. 🙌

The one weird trick

  1. Think of an open source project that you use often.
  2. Open your browser to its GitHub Issues (or alternate platform equivalent).
  3. Open an issue, thanking the maintainer(s).

That’s all there is to it! Weird, right? Let me get out ahead of some FAQs. 💡

How do I pick an open source project to thank?

Tools are easy: just think about what you’ve been using lately to get stuff done. Chances are it’s open source! Libraries are even easier: check your package.json, Gemfile, or Cargo.toml and find a dependency that has made your life easier. Done and done!

What do I put in the Issue subject?

I suggest going with “Thanks!”, but feel free to get creative with it. 😀

What do I say in the Issue body?

Tell them how long you’ve used the thing, how it’s made your life easier, why you think it’s awesome, etc. You don’t have to write a book!

I also like to mention that I expect them to immediately close the issue, to spare them the awkward decision of whether or not to keep it open indefinitely.

Do I have to use Issues?

No way! Tweet at them, email them, or send them a letter by carrier pigeon. It doesn’t really matter which medium you use. It only matters that go out of your way to say thanks.

Do you actually do this, Jerod?

Yes! But not as often as I should. Most recently, I realized just how much time I’d saved thanks to the excellent HTTPoison library, so I thanked the author. It made Eduardo’s day, which subsequently made my day, too! Weird how that works, huh?

A bonus trick 🎁

If you want to go the extra mile, JS Party panelist Feross has a super cool npm package called thanks. It will crawl your package.json and print out a list of maintainers who accept donations. Because saying thanks can make someone’s day, but giving thanks is on a whole other level. 💚

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